James Leng is the recipient of the prestigious 2013 SOM Prize, a $50,000 Travel and Research Fellowship. Mr. Leng received his Master of Architecture degree in March 2013 from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he was also awarded the highly competitive GSD Thesis Prize. Growing up in Castro Valley, CA, James attended UC Berkeley where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree in 2007.
In the interval between graduation from Berkeley and commencement of his study at the GSD, James gained professional experience in the Netherlands, working initially for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and later, with UN Studio. James professional experience was further enhanced in 2011 when he received a GSD Half-year Fellowship to work in the Paris office of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
James plans to utilize his SOM Foundation Fellowship to travel to regions on four (4) continents, carrying out his winning research proposal on the topic, “Useless Architectures: A Search for New Meanings After Obsolescence.” As James explains, “The notion of the obsolete is a familiar theme in architecture… However, the circumstances surrounding a building’s fall into disuse vary broadly from cultural shifts, disruptive technological innovation to even catastrophic disaster. As the rate of technological innovation and progress increases, it becomes critical to ask what becomes of architecture after usefulness?”
Since graduation from GSD, James has relocated to Los Angeles, where he is currently employed in the office of Michael Maltzan Architecture.
Maged Guerguis is the 2013 Recipient of the SOM Foundation’s $20,000 Travel / Research Fellowship. In May 2013, Mr. Guerguis received his M. Arch degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and was honored with the 2013 Alumni Choice Award for Best Portfolio. Born and raised in Zagazig, Sharquia, Egypt, Maged received his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2001 from Helwan University, Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, and received the 2002 Society of Egyptian Architects Award for Excellence in architectural design for his thesis project.
Prior to enrolling at UIC, Maged gained his initial professional experience in Cairo at the architecture firm Dar Al-Handasah, and subsequently in the office of AEC in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
From an early age, Maged had always been interested in all forms of visual arts as well as the sciences. While the art of creating things became the focus of his study at university, he also observed that, "…successful endeavors in any field have always relied on borrowing themes from other disciplines."
As an SOM Foundation Fellow, Maged will travel to scientific research institutions in Australia, Europe and North America, to carry out his research topic, “Soft Boundaries – The Emergence of Material Energies. Noting a personal long- term goal, "… to pursue a harmonious blend of a diverse set of fields as applied to the discipline of Architecture," Maged has observed that Architecture, "…has always kept a tight connection with the Sciences, and has always been influenced by discoveries of new materials and technologies."
Since graduation from UIC, Maged has been working as a project manager at the architecture firm Morgante Wilson in Evanston, Illinois.
Yao Xiao is the recipient of the SOM Foundation 2013 Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship. Born and raised in Beijing, China, Yao is an April 2013 graduate of Stanford University with a Master of Science Degree in Structural Engineering, and also holds a BS in Architectural Engineering, received from the Illinois Institute of Technology in May 2011.
Ms. Xiao received the Foundation’s $10,000 Prize for her award-winning Essay, “Repetition and Modularity in Structural Design.” In her Essay, she notes that, “In contemporary architectural design, the use of architectural and structural modules in repetition can lead to divergent results, ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary…. Remarkable structures designed by modernists such as Gaudi, Felix Candela and Santiago Calatrava express elegance through repetition of modules that enhance architectural visions and support structural functions.”
In researching examples of notable buildings and structures that, “...demonstrate the critical architectural, structural and construction techniques of modular repetition that differentiate the selected structures from the typical,” and to find out the design stories behind them, Zao will travel to locations on three continents in seeking to answer the question, “What design choices make the difference in promoting elegance, efficiency and economy?”
On the occasion of the annual President’s Medals 2013, Ben Hayes of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London, received the SOM Foundation Travelling Fellowship Award and the RIBA Silver Medal. The awards are given to a student who has completed the Part 2 Course of Study at a school of architecture in the United Kingdom. Ben’s winning submission is entitled Kizhi Island.
Ben proposes a museum landscape that will facilitate the restoration and reassembly of over 200 wooden Orthodox churches on Kizhi Island in Northern Russia. He explains, “these fragile, desecrated structures have a spiritual presence that commands respect, however, in the next 10 to 15 years these wooden monuments will almost totally disappear. This proposal explores in-depth the changing relationship between the Russian landscape and national identity, tracing back the influence of Romanticism at the start of the nineteenth century and looks at the wide scale impact of Soviet collectivization and de-ruralization. Challenging the program of the existing museum on the island, the proposal will include temporary and permanent structures for research, storage, preservation and exhibition of each church which has been relocated. The project dramatically redesigns the visitor experience on the island, and is an earnest call for the protection and celebration of this most fragile part of the cultural heritage of Russia.”
In continuing his interest and research in Russian heritage, Ben will use his research fellowship for further travel to Russia to continue to work on the Russian Ark Project, and collaborate with the charity, Wooden Architecture at Risk (WAaR).
Ben has previously worked at Matthew Springett Associates, Foster + Partners, and has lived and worked in both London and Beijing. Ben joined Niall McLaughlin Architects in 2013, where he is presently employed.