James Leng is the winner of the 2013 SOM Prize. The graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Master of Architecture 1, March 2013) will use the $50,000 award to visit countries on four continents while exploring his research topic, Useless Architectures: A Search for New Meanings After Obsolescence. Leng explains: “The notion of the obsolete is a familiar theme in architecture…However, the circumstances surrounding a building’s fall into disuse vary broadly from cultural shifts, disruptive technological innovation to even catastrophic disaster. As the rate of technological innovation and progress increases, it becomes critical to ask ‘What becomes of architecture after usefulness?’”
Maged Guerguis will receive the $20,000 SOM Travel/Research Fellowship. He earned a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2013. As an SOM Foundation Fellow, Guerguis will travel to scientific research institutions in Australia, Europe and North America to carry out his research topic, Soft Boundaries - The Emergence of Material Energies. Noting a personal long time goal ‘to pursue a harmonious blend of a diverse set of fields as applied to the discipline of Architecture’, Guerguis observes that Architecture ‘has always kept a tight connection with the Sciences, and has always relied on borrowing themes from other disciplines’.
The SOM Prize is awarded annually through a national competition. The SOM Foundation received 76 portfolio submissions from students at 34 American schools with accredited programs in architecture, design and urban design. The submissions were judged on the quality of the design portfolios, research proposals and travel itineraries. The 2013 jury met in Chicago and included Helmut Jahn, FAIA , CEO of JAHN, Chicago; Tom Leader, Principal, Tom Leader Studio, Berkeley, CA; Robert Somol, Interim Dean, University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Architecture, Design and the Arts; and was chaired by Brian Lee, FAIA, Partner, Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM).