2016 Call for Proposals: Adaptation

While past Steedman Fellows were chosen based on a design competition, the 2016 call for proposals marked a shift to a new process. Applicants were asked to develop research proposals that responded to a particular theme. The 2016 theme, developed by jury chair Mason White, is described below.


Our age is increasingly defined by unpredictability and a need for contingency in design. However, the life of a building or design cannot always keep pace with changes in culture, context, or climate. How is the rigidity of architecture slackened? Where does the ability to adjust, modify, or respond to factors exist? Can (and does) Architecture adapt?  

This year, the theme of adaptation is offered as an area of enquiry. In biology, adaptation enhances the survival and fitness of organisms. Within design, demands for adaptive responses to climatic, cultural, or societal change have tested architecture’s transformative properties. More than ever, exciting new considerations of accessibility, sustainability, and flexibility are being incorporated earlier and earlier into design processes. It could be argued that an inability of architecture to adapt will be its demise.

The Steedman 2016 jury seeks forward-thinking research proposals on instances and ideas of adaptation in architecture.

2016 Jury

Mason White,
Principal, Lateral Office, Toronto
Associate Professor of Architecture & John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design, University of Toronto

Mason White, along with Lola Sheppard, is a founding Partner at Lateral Office. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech and his Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is an Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design at the University of Toronto. He has taught at Harvard University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, and UC Berkeley. WHITE previously worked at Moncaelli Press (New York), Machado Silvetti Associates (Boston), and Panter Hudspith (London) before forming LATERAL OFFICE. He is convinced that there are new roles for architecture out there that we do not know because we are not looking, really looking. WHITE is the recipient of the 2008-09 Arthur Wheelwright Fellowship from Harvard Graduate School of Design and the 2012-13 Howard Friedman Visiting Professorship in the Practice of Architecture at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.


deborahberkeheadshot_webDeborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP
Partner, Deborah Berke Partners

Dean, Yale School of Architecture

Deborah Berke is an architect, educator, and the founder of New York-based Deborah Berke Partners, which she leads alongside two partners and eight principals. Among the firm’s works are the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, the 21c Museum Hotels across the South and Midwest, and the 122 Community Arts Center in New York City. Berke is the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, the first woman to hold the position. She has been on faculty at Yale since 1987. In 2012, she was the inaugural recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize at the University of California at Berkeley. She is a board member of the James Howell Foundation, and a member of the board of directors of Yaddo. Berke is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and The City University of New York. In 2005, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from RISD.

10.14.2014--Elena Canovas, Senior Lecturer, at the Sam Fox School at WUSTL. Photo by Joe Angeles/WUSTL PhotosElena Cánovas
Principal, aSZ arquitectes
Professor of Practice, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis

Elena Cánovas is principal of aSZ arquitectes, which she co-founded with Antonio Sanmartín in Barcelona in 1996 after several years of joint professional and academic experiences. Projects by the firm have included the Badalona Central Library, the Santiago de Compostela Towers at the Cidade da Cultura, the Vidrá Public Housing, the Rianxo Auditorium, the Gavá seafront units, the Capuchinas Building for Huesca University, and the Tramway system for Barcelona. Canovas has been an associate professor in design projects at Escola Técnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona (ETSAB, UPC) since 1993, and has served as coordinator of the first-year design studio since 2009. She is a professor of practice in the Sam Fox School of Architecture & Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis and has been a lecturer abroad for the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design’s international summer studio in Barcelona since 2007. She is working on her PHD on Contemporary Public Space, and its chances in sprawl cities.

joycehwang-photo2_webJoyce Hwang, AIA, NCARB
Director, Ants of the Prairie

Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo

Joyce Hwang is an associate professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, and is the director of Ants of the Prairie, an office of architectural practice and research that focuses on confronting contemporary ecological conditions through creative means. Currently she is developing a series of projects that incorporate wildlife habitats into constructed environments. Hwang is a recipient of the Architectural League Emerging Voices Award (2014), the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship (2013), the MacDowell Colony Fellowship (2016, 2011), and is a co-editor of Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice (Actar, 2015). A registered architect in New York State, she has practiced with offices in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Barcelona, Spain. Hwang earned her MArch from Princeton University and BArch from Cornell University, where she received the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Bronze Medal.

jeff-ryan-headshot_webJeff Ryan, AIA, LEED AP
Director of Design and Principal, Christner Inc.

Jeff Ryan is the director of design at Christner, Inc. Ryan earned his BArch from Tulane University and his MArch from the University of Texas at Austin. He has over 25 years of experience practicing architecture, and has worked as a project designer for HOK, CannonDesign, and Danze Blood. Additionally, Ryan has taught design studios at Washington University and the University of Texas at Austin. His work includes projects in higher education, science, research, healthcare, as well as corporate office buildings and headquarters, and a large aviation project. He has completed several international projects and his work can be seen throughout the Midwest. Ryan’s focus is on how the particular circumstance of each project can inform the making of places that have a genuine and meaningful impact on their users