July 1, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — Each year, the Lyceum Fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts, asks a distinguished practicing architect to develop its national design competition for architectural students. The Lyceum Fellowship is the most prestigious of its kind in the world, due in part to the prizes it awards. First prize is $10,000 to fund six months of travel for the winning student. Second prize is $6,000 to fund three months of travel. Third prize is a $1,000 grant.
This year, the Fellowship Committee asked Frank Harmon, FAIA, principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA of Raleigh, North Carolina, to create the project by which the 2009 students will be judged.
The Lyceum Fellowship was founded in 1985 to advance the development of the next generation of architectural talent by creating a vehicle for stimulating perceptive reasoning and inspiring creative thought in the field. The prize money is targeted for travel grants during the students’ academic study years so that their travel experiences will directly influence their studies.
The project Harmon has developed echoes one of his own: a blacksmith’s studio for the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC (http://www.penland.org), where iron forges are the workplaces for a dozen students and teachers. Harmon designed an actual blacksmith’s studio for Penland in 2000 and subsequently received five design awards for it.
The Penland School of Crafts, set in 700 acres of the Black Mountains, has taught iron, clay, wood, glass and fiber craft-making for nearly a century. “Students come to Penland from all over the world to reacquaint themselves with the joy of using hand and eye to shape inanimate materials into objects of beauty,” Harmon said.
He chose this sort of project for the Lyceum Fellowship because it offers today’s architecture students “the opportunity to bring together the skills and techniques of the digital/machine age with the qualities expressed in handcrafted construction,” he said, “so that our buildings return to being humane and connected to their place.”
The immediate goal for the architectural students who participate in the program will be “to create a workplace that is clean, well lit, safe and convenient,” Harmon explained. “But beyond those ‘givens,’ the higher goal is to create a studio that will lift the human spirit and celebrate the making of crafts by eye and hand, which has been misplaced in the digital age. We want the building to have a sense of life in its skin and bones.”
He has titled his program “Making As A Way Of Thinking.”
The Lyceum Fellowship is open to selected design schools by invitation only. For more information, go to http://www.lyceum-fellowship.org. For more information on Frank Harmon, visit http://www.frankharmon.com.