Roddier and Mitnick Receive 2021–2022 Rome Prize

Mireille Roddier and Keith Mitnick, associate professors of architecture and founders of the collaborative design practice Mitnick Roddier, are the recipients of the 2021–2022 Arnold W. Brunner/Frances Barker Tracy/Katherine Edwards Gordon Rome Prize in Architecture.

Awarded annually by the American Academy in Rome, the Rome Prize is a highly competitive award that supports advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities. Rome Prize winners are selected by independent juries of distinguished artists and scholars. This year, the Rome Prize Competition received 874 applications representing 46 U.S. states and 22 countries. Thirty-five American and five Italian artists and scholars were awarded the prize — described by the American Academy as the gift of “time and space to think and work” — which includes a stipend, workspace, and room and board at the Academy’s 11-acre campus in Rome, starting in September 2021.

Roddier and Mitnick’s project, “Six Architectures in Search of an Author,” will stage six buildings into a composite and multi-layered architectural reconstruction of Rome that takes artistic license in the creative representation of existing buildings in order to present new and contemporary views of the city. 

From the project proposal:

Films like Paris, je t’aime (2006) and Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth (1991) present new experiences of familiar cities by portraying them through the experiential lens of a diverse set of characters. Such films challenge our conventional views of places by overlaying them with fictitious narratives that, in different ways, transform how we experience them in life. In “Six Architectures in Search of an Author,” we will create a collection of visual stories through a variety of forms and points of view, our stories will eschew the traditional narratives generally used to depict historical works of architecture to reveal new ways of seeing them in relation to the contemporary city. With architectural models and drawings, we will overlay divergent views and “gazes” to create multi-layered architectural reconstructions of Rome that, like Capriccio paintings, present new versions of la Città Eterna.

Roddier, a former Sanders Fellow at Taubman College, holds a joint appointment with U-M’s women’s studies department, and a faculty affiliation at the Institute for Research on Women & Gender. Her research focuses on urban representation through the lens of class and gender. Since exploring the architecture of working-class women’s civic spaces in Lavoirs: Washhouses of Rural France (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003), she has studied the traces of modernization and its discontent onto the contemporary city, with a heavy focus on Paris and Detroit. Borrowing criticism developed in other fields (theatre, film, photography, ethnography), and informed by interdisciplinary fellowships, her work currently centers on the relationship between urban narratives, the production of the public realm, belonging, and appropriation. 

Mitnick, a former Sanders Fellow at Taubman College, previously received two Graham Foundation grants and the Burnham Prize Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. His first book, Artificial Light, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2008, and he is currently working on his second book, Rainy Sea, a novel that uses fiction writing to contemplate spatial concepts and architectural ideas. His essays and creative work have appeared in such publications as LOG, Praxis, Thresholds, and Harvard Design Magazine.

The work of Mitnick Roddier has been featured as part of the Emerging Practices series in Architectural Record as well as the On the Boards series in Architecture Magazine, and has been exhibited in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. The firm has received numerous awards including the 2004 Young Architects Forum award from the Architectural League of New York, The Unbuilt Architecture award from the Boston Society of Architects, and the ACSA Faculty Design Award. Mitnick Roddier was among ten international firms selected to receive the 2005 Architectural Record Design Vanguard award. Their Split/View pavilion is on permanent exhibition on the grounds of the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was included in the publication XS Green: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. 

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