The SOM Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Research Prize. Two teams—one from Yale University and the University of Houston, and one from Carnegie Mellon University—will each receive a $40,000 prize to conduct original research that contributes to this year’s topic, “Shaping Our World Through Air.” The Research Prize was created in 2018 to cultivate new ideas and meaningful research that addresses the critical issues of our time.
Liz Gálvez (Yale University, School of Architecture) and Dalia Munenzon (University of Houston, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture & Design) won with their proposal “Collective Comfort: Framing the Cooling Center as a Resiliency and Educational Hub for Communities in Desert Cities.” The project aims to develop a public program that rethinks the cooling center as an educational resilience hub. Furthermore, “Collective Comfort” aims to bring education on heat risk and weatherization efforts to the forefront, helping to destabilize the fossil-fuel reliant single-family home by providing alternative visions that foreground collectivity and community resilience in desert cities.
Juror Daniel A. Barber commented: “Gálvez and Munenzon’s research on cooling centers in the face of increasing heat threats will prove essential to the discipline’s attempts to engage the climate emergency. Their framing of the cooling center as both a place for heat relief and for education promises to bring this spatial and organizational intelligence to a broader public—a project not only conceptually rich but also eminently practical and possible.”
The second winning proposal, “Taking Back the Air: Collective Learning, Advocacy, and Design for a Healthy Environment” led by Nida Rehman (Carnegie Mellon University, School of Architecture), asks how spatial design pedagogy and research can engage in interpretive, collaborative, and community-centered approaches to weave together the complex histories, political ecologies, material effects, modes of resistance, and everyday experiences of toxic systems to help shape better worlds.
“‘Taking Back the Air’ builds on the researchers’ commitment to community engagement and offers a new approach to architecture’s social role amidst the exigencies of the climate emergency—at once spatial, collaborative, and focused on communities and the narratives that resonate with them,” mentioned juror Daniel A. Barber. “The project’s Atmospheric Justice Curriculum and Archive of Air will a rich resource for practitioners, scholars, and teachers.”
This year’s jury was led by SOM Foundation Executive Director Iker Gil and included Daniel A. Barber (Professor of Architecture and Environment in the Faculty of Design, Architecture, and Building at the University of Technology Sydney; Research Affiliate at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), Giovanna Borasi (Director and Chief Curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal), Mario Gooden (Professor of Professional Practice and Codirector of the Global Africa Lab at Columbia GSAPP, New York City; Director of Mario Gooden Studio: Architecture + Design, New York City), and Sarah Herda (Director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago).
Research Prize recipients are expected to collaborate with students, faculty, and leaders from various disciplines to pursue their research topics. They will be required to document their findings and develop suggestions for application to professional practice. The outcome of the research will be shared publicly on the SOM Foundation’s website as well as other mediums identified by the winning teams.