Six Knowlton Students Awarded 2018 ARTA Grants

Six Knowlton School students are this year’s recipients of Architecture Research and Travel Awards (ARTA) which support independent research during summer 2018. This year’s awardees are:

  • Tyler Cloud (MLA), Embedded Landscape Histories
  • Alexandra Oetzel (BSARCH), Wo[man] in the Landscape
  • Andrew Polefrone (MLA), URBAN AGRICULTURE AS CRISIS RESPONSE: A Comparative Study of Cuba and Colombia
  • Brittany L. Schroeder (MLA), The Forest Plantations: Characterizing the Plantings of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Eastern United States
  • Lucia Aguiar (MLA) and Rachel Smith (MLA): Living Land in New Zealand: Legal Personhood in the Context of Cultural Landscapes


Tyler Cloud has been invited to assist archaeologists and members of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe document a prehistoric cultural landscape consisting of stone effigies and cairns near Watertown South Dakota. Cloud plans to augment the archaeological and historical research that has already been conducted with a methodological and theoretical approach grounded in landscape architecture. First, he will digitally survey and identify features that are both intact and disturbed with LIDAR and then map them in ArcGIS. He will then visit the area with tribal members and elders to record their knowledge of the rock arrangements and photograph the features. Finally, he will prepare a report that synthesizes these data sources and interprets the relationships of the features to the culture traditions, to one another and to larger landscape features in order to understand their role in the creation of sacred and ritual spaces on the Great Plains.

Alexandra Oetzel plans to examine man’s attitude towards the environment through a study of the American National Park Service. Guided by Kaiser’s The National Park Architecture Sourcebook, Berger’s Ways of Seeing, and Shepard’s Man in the Landscape, this research will analyze art history (Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt), architectural artifacts and constructions (Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings, Mary Colter), and both artificial and naturally occurring landscapes across the United States. Oetzel is interested in exploring specific ways of seeing and understanding our environs as we describe them: sublime, beautiful, dangerous, paradisiac, picturesque, mysterious, etc. Further, she intends to reproduce the distributed survey of the seminal report “Will Success Spoil the National Parks?”, the 1969 Pulitzer Prize winner for National Reporting as one quantitative method of gathering data on otherwise subjective understandings. Through this research, she hopes to understand the larger implications of man within his surroundings.

In the latter half of the 20th century, urban agriculture emerged as a major productive force in Cuba and Colombia, in response to crises in each country. The crises are strikingly different, yet urban agriculture has emerged as a response to both. Andrew Polefrone believes that by comparing the two cases he can map these successful typologies for urban agricultural responses to political or economic crisis. These emergent practices offer three opportunities for comparison: deployment, variance in governmental systems and the nature of the crises that formed the agricultural responses. Through field work, interviews and data collection, he plans to develop a series of maps at the site level, and at the system level, that trace the socio-political systems, food economies and urban metabolism of these cases. Polefrone plans to formulate my findings (if possible) into typologies that could then be considered for deployment elsewhere - a project he hopes to carry forward into my third-year directed research project.

Brittany Schroeder plans to research work completed by the Civilian Conservations Corps (CCC), which conducted conservation and infrastructure projects in the nation’s parks and forests as part of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. Because no comprehensive record exists for where the CCC planted trees, Schroeder intends to expand documentation of notable plantings in the East, especially in light of foresters now managing these areas with native regrowth. First, she will observe and document these forest plantings through sketching their form, proximity and existing species. Secondly, by visiting federal records depositories, she will use existing primary sources to reconstruct the CCC’s plantings history and begin to piece together the records of where they planted, why and in what capacity. Lastly, she will extend this research into my third-year directed research project. Using the archival material and her site observations, she will reconstruct the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps planting operations through a series of maps, historic plans, and construction drawings. Her focused study will illuminate conservation practices that laid a foundation for future conservation movements that are still relevant today.

The Maori people in New Zealand believe that land has its own identity and needs to be preserved for its intrinsic value. In 2014, Te Urewera National Park was granted legal personhood. Renamed simply Te Urewera, it is an entity protected by law from harm, but remains under the stewardship of the government and an appointed Maori tribe member. The Whanganui River, a river the Maori find to be life-giving, followed, being granted legal personhood in 2017. This unprecedented legislation granting rights to over 800 square miles of land has profound implications on how this land is perceived. The intention of Lucia Aguiar’s and Rachel Smith’s research is to learn more about the implications of what legal personhood of land means in the context of New Zealand’s unique cultural landscape, and what impacts this has on conservation practices. Aguiar and Smith will travel to both Te Urewera and the Whanganui region to conduct interviews, archival research, and observation. They hope to begin to understand the answers to the following questions: What does the redefinition of these spaces as single entities mean for conservation or cultural use? How have these places and spaces been shaped historically? How might they be shaped in the future due to this new legal status?

The Knowlton School Architecture Research Travel Awards program was established to encourage independent travel and research initiatives of up to 30 days by Knowlton students from all degree programs. The ARTA program is made possible by generous support from the Columbus Foundation. In the fall semester following completion of their projects, ARTA winners present their work at the school.