Recipients of the Research Through Making grant competition present research, research on display in college gallery

Historically, research and creative practice have been constructed as “opposites.” This is not an unusual struggle in architecture schools, particularly in the context of a research university. Moreover, this perceived tension between design and research is indicative of an age-old struggle within the field of architecture to understand its own nature as an “applied art.” The boundary between the “art” and its “application” has always been an existential crisis for the field. In some instances, design can be a purely creative activity not unlike creative practices in music and art. In other cases, design can be a purely problem solving activity, not unlike research in engineering and industrial production. The boundaries between these activities are never clear, since their methods and techniques in the context of design are ultimately very similar.

The Research Through Making Faculty Research Grant Program at the University of Michigan seeks to set aside these struggles by acknowledging MAKING as the common denominator that cuts across the imaginary boundaries between design and research.

The 2010 Research Through Making Faculty research grant recipients were announced and awarded to Taubman College architecture faculty on April 30, 2010. Five grants of $20,000 each were competitively awarded for the production of a research or creative project that is predicated on MAKING.

Funds can be used for project materials, student assistance, and other expenses. Entries to this competition were anonymously evaluated by a distinguished jury from outside the College. Projects will completed by Jan. 8, 2011. The work is exhibited in the Taubman College Gallery from Jan. 13-Feb. 2, 2011.

Jurors were Ned Cramer, editor-in-chief of Architect Magazine; Karen Fairbanks, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Professional Practice in Architecture and the Chair of the Department of Architecture at Barnard College; and Joe Rosa, the John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago and recently named UM’s Art Museum (UMMA) director.

Projects include:

Storm Glass
Associate Professor Craig Borum

Associate Professor Geoff Thun and Assistant Professor Kathy Velikov

WATERSHED (or) Wrapping Sheds with Water
Assistant Professors Maria Arquero and Jen Maigret

Hair, Spikes, Heather and Sedge: the research of thatch through Making
Lecturer Vivian Lee

Re-vault: Extending form finding with computation, ecological inputs and robotic fabrication
Lecturers Maciej Kaczynski and Wes McGee, and Visiting Professor Dave Pigram

The program, initiated by Dean Ponce de Leon in 2009 and sponsored by Taubman College to promote making, was continued this year based on the success of last year’s projects To learn more about the projects and presentations: