History of Art and Architecture

Undergraduate Research Awards Summer 2011

The department is eager to congratulate our undergraduate majors who secured fellowships and awards to conduct independent research in the summer of 2011!

Two architectural studies majors and one HAA major won Summer Research Abroad awards from the University Honors College: 

Alex Cornhill, who is working under the direction of Drew Armstrong, traveled to Paris to conduct archival research and site analysis in his study of the ‘pensionnaires’, winners of the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome, granted annually to one architecture student at the École des Beaux-Arts in France. In particular, he is interested in how pensionnaires of the Romantic generation of the early nineteenth century developed interpretations of history that differed significantly from the institutional traditions of the school that was training and supporting them, and their subsequent development of a ‘hybrid’ architecture.    

Chong Hu traveled to east Asia with a specific interest in examining the intersection of a western-influenced modernism with indigenous building styles and traditions.  In Japan, she devoted her attention to buildings of the 1960s, while in China she examined the more recent architecture of the early 21st century.  In both cases, frenetic building activity followed years of significant economic growth and development resulting in tensions between indigenous tradition and the western influence of modernism.  Katheryn Linduff is the faculty sponsor of Chong Hu’s research.  

Lucy Peterson also traveled to Japan this summer as a recipient of a School of Arts and Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Award. While there, she engaged in language study and continued work on a research project that was begun in the spring of 2011 in a class taught by Karen Gerhart on Japanese handscrolls. Lucy is interested in the various meanings that are conveyed by flowers that are an important feature of the handscrolls, particularly those produced in the 17th century, which is her area of focus. To develop her thesis, she also examined the art of flower arranging and the rich role it plays in Japanese culture. She will continue this work in her honors thesis project in the fall of 2011.

Two students are undertaking Brackenridge Summer Research fellowships, awarded by the University Honors College, giving close scrutiny to local Pittsburgh architecture and urbanism:  

Gavin White, an Architectural Studies major, is working with Gretchen Bender on “From The Nose to the Nation: The Multi-Scaled identity of Pittsburgh’s Strip District.” This summer Gavin sought to understand and explain Pittsburgh’s Strip District as a unique place.  To do so, he had to look at and beyond its geography, architecture, infrastructure, or other physical characteristics. After all, the identity of a place cannot be gleaned from materials alone but also resides in a vast number of intangibles.  The social dynamics, politics, economics, history, cultural representations (within the site and beyond), even the very people who sell, walk and shop there contribute to its atmosphere. From the tiny aromatic particles that the nose takes in, to the nation (or region) that a store claims to represent with their goods, multiple scales of identity coincide and compete to give the Strip District its distinct flavor.  Thus, through a survey of theoretical works dealing with these issues of place, space, and culture, he established a framework for researching and understanding this place in particular. Nevertheless, without substantial on-site research the project would be only half complete.  Smelling, seeing, touching, eating, hearing—all the senses are integral to understanding a space.  For this reason, Gavin created a multimedia text linking image, map, data, narrative, history and theory, with the aim of considering as many perspectives as possible, while simultaneously narrowing in on key aspects contributing the continued livelihood and particularity of the Strip District. 

Evan Zajdel, who is pursuing the historic preservation certificate, is analyzing the now vacant Schenley High School in Oakland in his project, “Schenley High School: A Plan for Rehabilitation, Restoration and Reuse,” under the direction of Franklin Toker.   

A listing of all recent undergraduate research fellowship and award winners can be found here.