Graham Foundation Announces 2015 Individual Grants. What Were They Looking For?

The last time we visited the Graham Foundation, it was accepting applications from nonprofit organizations to assist with the production and presentation of "significant programs about architecture and the designed environment." At the time of this writing, the foundation's website notes that the 2015 grants to organizations and the winners of its Carter Manny Award, geared towards architectural doctoral students, will be announced later in the year.

What we didn't look at last time was Graham's grants to individuals. It's a topic that's long overdue, especially considering the foundation recently awarded $495,350 to 63 projects—including exhibitions, publications, multimedia archives, documentary films, podcasts, symposia, participatory workshops, and live performances—by artists, scholars, photographers, and other "architecturally-oriented professionals."

These projects fall into five principal categories: Exhibition, Film/Video/New Media, Public Program, Publication, and Research. I must admit, some of the winners—at least in this provincial reporter's opinion—come across as a bit, well, arcane. For example, one winner, a film entitled Le Cas[k] consists of a "model-prototype in process derived from two tales: 'Councillor Krespel' by E.T.A. Hoffmann and 'Blue Beard' by Charles Perrault. The title of the project navigates between Kafka’s Mr. K, Citizen Kane, Buzzati's novel, Lacan’s ça, Artaud’s KK, and the French phonetic pun cas(k)=facesfaeces."


On the other hand, the joint book project between Iwan Baan and Harvard GSD Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Silvia Benedito focuses "on the role of atmosphere, as matter and affect, in the disciplines of landscape architecture and urbanism."

Winning projects "advance new scholarship in the field of architecture, fuel creative experimentation and critical dialogue, and expand opportunities for public engagement with architecture and its role in contemporary society."

If this language sounds familiar, it echoes what the foundation is looking for in its organizational round of grantmaking. As the aforementioned hyperlinked article noted, winning organizational proposals will "promote dialogue, raise awareness, and develop new and wider audiences."

Bottom line? Architecture, the view of the Graham Foundation, is a means to an end. It's a springboard to deeper interaction, dialogue, and collaboration.