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Sirota, Wilkins Awarded Graham Foundation Grants

Taubman College faculty members Anya Sirota and Craig Wilkins have won highly selective Graham Foundation grants for their work to expand contemporary ideas of architecture through rigorous interdisciplinary work.

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation recently announced the award of $519,500 for 56 grants to individuals in 2024. There were nearly 600 submissions from around the world.

Sirota and Suzanne Lettieri won in the publications category for a book they are co-editing, Junior Architects (Park Books, 2024). Sirota is an associate professor of architecture and associate dean of academic initiatives at Taubman College, while Lettieri is an assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University.

Junior Architects explores the evolving landscape of architectural and design education, propelled by student-led movements advocating for an emancipatory education in the face of broader socio-political divisions around race and class. The book investigates avenues for achieving enduring diversity in design education, critically assessing early-learning initiatives at accredited U.S. architecture schools. Junior Architects forecasts a momentous transformation for educational institutions, the field, and the profession at large.

Wilkins, associate professor of architecture at Taubman College, won in the exhibitions category for an exhibit called if history were told as stories it’d never be forgotten … The exhibit, slated for display at the Detroit Historical Museum in February 2025, will tell the story of the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture. Despite the plethora of press and publications on the museum, the story of its improbable journey has largely remained untold – much less understood – in its proper context, one that centers on the unique relationship of African Americans to the National Mall and the Mall’s singular importance in the construction, celebration, and aims of national identity.

Deploying a mix of historical documents, images, and original text, Wilkins’ installation creates four time-specific, intersectional, creative nonfiction narratives tracing the African diaspora in the American identity project. Through the lens of a century-long quest to establish a distinct presence of African Americans on “America’s front lawn,” the exhibition interrogates and makes plain the real and often contentious connections between history, architecture, aspirational, and everyday experience, revealing the “evidence of things not seen” as James Baldwin once lamented.

The 2024 grantees join a worldwide network of individuals and organizations the Graham Foundation has supported over the past 68 years. The foundation has awarded more than $44 million in direct support to more than 5,100 projects by individuals and organizations. The 2024 grants to organizations will be announced later this summer.