Graham Foundation … thanks in advance!

September 17, 2009


Ernest R. Graham (1866–1936)was a prominent Chicago architect who was a protégé of Daniel Burnham.  The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.

I heard about the organization and their grants to architectural research last Friday when I dropped by Ozayr’s office for a little academic/psychological checkup and check in during my whirlwind one-day tour of the cities.  He’s been recommending that I apply for supplemental funding to augment my potential Fulbright grant (which will cover only living and international travel expenses, not academic or research costs).  Friday he listed a couple specific places, including Graham Foundation and we looked up the deadline … it was September 15th!

I had a bit of an ARGH! moment  because the week ahead was already totally booked up with a Whole Trees booth at the I-Renew energy fair, out of town house guests and a really nasty sore throat as well as the usual clutter.  However I couldn’t deny that it was a fabulous opportunity so on Monday after work I sat down and looked over the application and in the next thirty hours (it was due 11:59PM CST) I pulled together what I think is a quite decent application.  For anyone interested, here it is:

PROJECT TITLE: Sustainable Policies in Dutch Construction Methods
I seek funding for research into effects of regulation on sustainable construction in the Netherlands.  I wish to understand how Dutch building policy regarding sustainability supports or hinders residential building design and construction.
Based on discussions with academics in the field at TU Delft and other institutions I will select several building case studies to observe. Through observation and interviews with interested stakeholders, I will
compile a comprehensive overview of how building policy affects sustainable construction practices in the Netherlands today.  I will identify points which may be successfully applied to American building
code systems with the goal of improving domestic regulation and oversight, thereby promoting a more eco-friendly and equitable built environment.Graham Foundation funding will supplement my concurrent application for a Fulbright Fellowship for academic year 2010-11 and cover costs of observational and interview-based research.

PROJECT END  06/01/2011
REQUEST : 4,000

ADDITIONAL FUNDING SOURCES: Fulbright Fellowship, $16,000 dollars, application to be submitted October 2009

I seek funding to support my research into the effects of regulation on sustainable construction in the Netherlands.  Concurrently, I am applying for a Fulbright fellowship to study in the Netherlands from September 2010 to June 2011.  The Fulbright grant covers international travel and living expenses during an academic year but does not extend to academic or research costs.  My application to the Graham Foundation is for funding to cover the cost of my observational and interview-based research investigating how the Dutch use legislation and planning policy to promote sustainable practices in contemporary residential construction.

Hands-on design work with post-hurricane Katrina Biloxi, MS sparked my awareness of the challenges inherent in the American building code system. I pursued this interest in my thesis research on the problem of how to work within FEMA building codes to rebuild several dozen units in flood zone neighborhoods.  At present, my work with Whole Trees Architecture and Construction, (a “two-man” residential design office) often involves struggling against roadblocks in local building code standards in order to integrate safe engineering practices into novel small-scale sustainable designs.  These experiences motivate my interest in promoting building policies that foster environmentally-sound innovation.

I am in contact with Andy van den Dobbelsteen and Pieter C. le Roux of Delft Technical University and am pursuing an institutional affiliation with the Center for People and Buildings at TU Delft.   I am also in
dialogue with Saskia Ruijsink at the Institute for Housing Studies in Rotterdam and Leonie Janssen-Jansen of the Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan and International Development.  Once in residence, I plan to pursue case studies of buildings and developments currently underway in the Netherlands as well as several recently completed projects.  My goal is to gather information, opinions, and perspectives from all interested stakeholders, including: clients, architects, engineers, planners, developers, code officials, contractors and community members.   I will research literature covering the evolution of the current policy system, and will incorporate interviews and observations of active projects.

Research questions: How does the interplay between regulation and sustainability facilitate or impede the Dutch design and construction process?  How interested and engaged are the various stakeholders in energy conservation and sustainability practices, and how does this interest level affect the characteristics of the completed building?  To what extent, and at what point in the design process, are technical specialists consulted?

My initial aim is to compile a comprehensive overview of how building policy affects sustainable building construction practices in the Netherlands today.  Furthermore, I intend to identify specific points which are potentially applicable to the municipal building codes.  Upon return to the US, I hope to collaborate with a sympathetic planning office to develop these research ideas into a working proposal for domestic
changes.  My overarching goal is to encourage energy-efficient and sustainable practices on a larger scale, thereby promoting a more eco-friendly and equitable built environment.

I am currently employed as intern architect for a small residential architecture office focused on sustainable design.  I received my Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 2008.  During my professional studies, I pursued every opportunity to augment my design studies with academic research.  My teaching appointments focused on architectural research, including two years as adviser to the third-year graduate students on the written portion of their design theses.  My own thesis focused on working within FEMA building codes in the rebuilding of flood-damaged neighborhoods in Biloxi, Mississippi.  My interest in the Netherlands extends from a year of residency there in childhood.  I went on to study Dutch in graduate school and won a fellowship to attend a summer language immersion program in the Netherlands in 2007. My focus on Dutch sustainability legislation integrates these longstanding interests.

September 2010: I will arrive in Netherlands and take up residence with host institution.

September-October 2010: I will pursue archival research regarding historic and contemporary Dutch approaches to building legislation and policy.  I will continue to communicate with professionals in design, construction and building regulation while seeking out new contacts in those areas.  Based on preliminary research, I will select several current construction projects and several recently completed projects as case studies for further development.  In addition, I intend to audit an advanced course in Dutch language to augment my current language proficiency.

November 2010-April 2011: In the spring term I will pursue case study research through on-site observation, research and informational interviews with all available interested parties, including but not limited to clients, architects, engineers, planners, developers, code officials, contractors and community members.

May-June 2011: Based on my findings, I will compile a comprehensive survey that summarizes my understanding of the Dutch building design and construction process, and makes recommendations to smooth and improve relations between American municipal code officials and designers.

June 2011: On my return to United States I will contact several planning agencies in view of collaborations to pursue American applications of my findings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s