Thursday, September 21, 2017

UTSA architecture students win national competition

UTSA architecture students win national competition

UTSA architecture students set the datum on the Original Dining Room at Taliesin West in 2014.

(Sept. 6, 2017) -- A team of University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) students instructed by Sue Ann Pemberton, FAIA, assistant professor in practice in the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, has been named the first place winner of the Charles E. Peterson Prize, a national student competition of measured drawings. The award is given annually for the best documentation of a historic building submitted by an accredited school of architecture in the United States or its territories. Pemberton and her students were honored for their documentation of the Original Dining Room at Taliesin West, the 620-acre Arizona compound designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright treated Taliesin West as a place for experimentation for his ideas and changed various aspects of the site and its buildings almost on an annual basis.

“This is still this case,” said Pemberton. “Our greatest challenge in documenting the site is identifying subtle changes in the color of the concrete and going through old photographs to understand the transformation of a building over time. We document what is there today, knowing that the preservation of Taliesin West relies on continued experimentation of materials and detailing.”

The competition is juried by architects representing the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the National Park Service, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Historic Resources Committee. Currently in its 35th year, it honors Charles E. Peterson, FAIA (1906-2004), a founder of the HABS program, and is intended to heighten awareness about historic buildings in the United States and to augment the HABS collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress.

As a result of their first-place win, Pemberton and her students have also been honored with the Kenneth Lanier Anderson Prize, which is awarded annually to the highest-ranking Peterson Prize entry from a Texas university. Administered by the Texas Architectural Foundation, the Anderson Prize was established to honor the memory of Kenneth L. Anderson, former principal architect and later chief of HABS. Students instructed by Pemberton also received the Anderson and Peterson Prizes in 2009 (Peterson – Fourth Place), 2010 (Peterson – Third Place), and 2011 (Peterson – Third Place).

Students in Pemberton’s Architectural Surveys and Measured Drawings class have traveled to Taliesin West to complete documentation work for four consecutive summers. The project is an ongoing collaboration between UTSA and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in which students measure, prepare field drawings, sketch, photograph, research and dig into historic archives to understand how the buildings came into existence. The Original Dining Room was documented in 2014 as part of the pilot class, while students moved on to Frank Lloyd Wright’s public office, the Cabaret building, and the drafting studio in subsequent years. At the end of each project, the Foundation receives the students’ documentation files for baseline information. Archival quality documents are then submitted to the National Park Service and the Library of Congress for the public to view.

The UTSA student team honored with the Peterson Prize for their documentation of the Original Dining Room at Taliesin West consists of Maria Cortez, Juan Dominguez, Sara Jacobs-Davenport, Michael Jay Rodriguez, Augustin Salinas, Antonio Sanchez, and Ana Villarreal. Final drawings were completed by Jonathan Rafael Gonzalez. They will be presented with their award on November 10, 2017 at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Montana State University’s School of Architecture took second place, while the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico’s School of Architecture placed third. Honorable mentions were received by Louisiana Tech University’s School of Design and the Preservation Design Program in the Savannah College of Art and Design’s School of Building Arts.

UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education. 

- Nicole Chavez


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