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Proposal for sustainable urban architecture takes the prize

Reflecting the prominent role that environmental sustainability has assumed in architecture, Northeastern University Assistant Professor of Architecture Kiel Moe has been named this year’s recipient of the American Academy in Rome’s Prize for Architecture based on his proposal entitled, “The Thermodynamic Figuration of Rome.”

Moe’s winning proposal builds on his books, Integrated Design in Contemporary Architecture, and the forthcoming Thermally Active Surfaces, in which he outlines a future for architecture that engages both collaboration and energy innovation.

For example, a major element of his proposal is to use circulating water within the mass of a building for heating and cooling, a low-technology approach that uses less energy than current systems and is easily adaptable in developing countries.

“I am flattered that this significant prize was awarded based on my work on the fundamental thermodynamics that stand to amend building systems and the role of architecture in the 21st century,” said Moe.

“This award points both to the fact that these thermodynamic and physiological aspects of architecture have profound formal and compositional possibilities and to the role of artistic and humanistic research in the 21st century transformations that will make architecture, our cities, and multiple aspects of life more ecologically and economically sane and sustainable.”

The Rome Prize recognizes Moe’s work, part of a trajectory of research within the School of Architecture at Northeastern, for its innovation in resolving contemporary issues within the conventions and disciplinary procedures of architecture.

The fellowship that goes with the prize will enable Moe to spend 11 months in Rome, beginning in September 2009, where he will continue his research.

Established in 1894 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905, the American Academy in Rome sustains independent artistic pursuits and humanistic studies. Each year, through a national competition, the Rome Prize is awarded to emerging artists and scholars, and only one prize is awarded to a practicing architect in the United States.

Previous winners of the Rome Prize include Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, Colin Rowe, and other important figures in the history of 20th century American architecture.

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