Each year, Mellowes Research Assistant funding is available for up to three M.Arch graduate students. "Alongside expert faculty, paid graduate students will develop proficiency in researching and communicating advanced topics in architecture. Research will have broader implications for the field of architecture while reinforcing SARUP’s reputation as a leading research institution."
Image courtesy of Tania Gutiérrez-Monroy.
Please share your academic background and how your research interests will engage prospective graduate students.
Tania Gutiérrez-Monroy (TGM): I was trained as an architect at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and did an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. at McGill University. What interested me in this assistantship program was the opportunity to engage a master's student in a project where we can both learn about the spatial form of Indigenous subversive actions. Participation in this research is a great opportunity for students to help develop tools of analysis beyond those traditionally used in our field since social dynamics and their impact on the built environment call for inventive readings of visual and textual materials. The research focuses on the networks of Indigenous protests against (neo)colonial occupation and extractivism built across urban and rural landscapes of Mexico.
Lindsey Krug (LK): I received my undergraduate degree (B.A.) from the University of Pennsylvania and my graduate degree (M.Arch) from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. While I studied architecture at both universities, my undergraduate degree was a major in architecture within Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences. This way of being introduced to architecture, with a heavy focus on inter-disciplinarity and not purely on buildings and building science, has stayed with me throughout my academic and professional career. I firmly believe you have to look outside of architecture to understand it, which is where my interest in researching the intersection of law, sociology, policy, culture, and architecture is rooted. I think of architecture as the lens through which we can study the world around us, and the built environment as a landscape of artifacts that have solidified flows of money, power, and material into fairly permanent form.
Currently, the focus of my research is the topic of privacy, and how we define and establish it legally (as a right), architecturally (as a designed quality of our spaces), and culturally (as a product of our expectations). The research began by looking at U.S. Supreme Court precedent and how the right to privacy has been located within the U.S. Constitution over the past century, and will now shift focus to the State of Wisconsin and its own legal and social frameworks. The research uses architectural representation and explores innovative ways of drawing and modeling to help illustrate these complex social issues and distill challenging legal jargon.
Maura Lucking (ML): My Ph.D. is in the history of architecture from UCLA, where I focused on nineteenth-century histories of race, land, and labor, especially in North America. My new research is specifically looking at the role that provisions for housing and building practices played in treaties and other government aid to Native American communities at the turn of the twentieth century and identifying Native-led proposals and building projects that actively challenged those agendas. Perhaps because I hold other degrees in fine art and art history, I’m interested in interpreting the built environment in creative ways, helping make visible and material these sometimes very abstract histories of land policy, financialization, and state dispossession. That’s where design work and my interest in engaging students come in!
Image courtesy of Maura Lucking.I want to work with Mellowes students to research and build speculative models of this plan to fill in the blanks of all that we don’t know... – Maura Lucking
I’m currently very fascinated by a proposal for a Garden City model village that was made by an Oneida activist but never realized–what would it look like and how would it operate? How did the Garden City's aesthetic ideals of greenbelt space come together with its radical ideals about land ownership and economic self-determination? How do these ideas fundamentally change and enrich how we understand the Garden City as a modernist planning ideal? I want to work with Mellowes students to research and build speculative models of this plan to fill in the blanks of all that we don’t know because it was the work of a young Indigenous woman over one hundred years ago–how can we as designers make those histories more alive, more visible?
In your opinion, how do SARUP's programs differ from other Master’s programs?
TGM: There is a great opportunity for students to turn the funding that supports their pathway through the university into research experience that will strengthen their portfolio.
LK: Studying at SARUP provides students with extremely rich and unique educational opportunities, both for graduate and undergraduate students. SARUP has a unique identity as one of the largest schools of architecture in the country and the only accredited school of architecture in Wisconsin while also being located in a major and fantastic American city. Not only does this give students a dynamic architectural and urban environment to learn within, but SARUP students have real opportunities to influence the local design culture of Milwaukee and Wisconsin. UWM and SARUP are both invested in helping students find research opportunities with faculty, so there is a great culture of undergraduate and graduate students at the school contributing to advancing the discipline at large.SARUP students have real opportunities to influence the local design culture of Milwaukee and Wisconsin. UWM and SARUP are both invested in helping students find research opportunities with faculty, so there is a great culture of undergraduate and graduate students at the school contributing to advancing the discipline at large. – Lindsey Krug
Between the Mellowes Assistantships, Community Design Solutions (CDS), Support for Undergraduate Research Funding (SURF), the Marcus Prize studio, and much more, SARUP is committed to extending educational opportunities for students beyond the classroom. Throughout my own graduate education, the opportunities I had to work with faculty mentors were some of the most fruitful and enriching in helping me clarify my own interests in architecture and to learn about the many professional paths one can take in the field after graduating.
Image courtesy of Laura Krug.
ML: I am new to SARUP this year, so I don’t know if it would be fair for me to weigh in on the program as a whole, as I’m still learning. But I will say that for anyone interested in working with community-engaged design practices, there are incredible resources both within the department and in the city more broadly, which has, for example, an amazing social justice tradition of regenerative urban agriculture and its role in community placemaking despite the city’s long history of segregation–organizations like Alice’s Garden that have been doing this work for years.
Do you have any advice for future candidates looking to apply for the Mellowes Masters Research Assistantship?
TGM: Candidates should select the project that better fits both their experience and interests. The Mellowes Masters research projects require deep analysis of materials that do not always seem architectural at the beginning (architectural researchers sometimes work with plans but sometimes also encounter other pieces of evidence). It is important to emphasize the ability to read spatial artifacts, dynamics, and narratives that, at first sight, appear unrelated to the work of architects.The Mellowes Masters research projects require deep analysis of materials that do not always seem architectural at the beginning (architectural researchers sometimes work with plans but sometimes also encounter other pieces of evidence). – Tania Gutiérrez-Monroy
LK: My advice for graduate candidates applying for Mellowes Research Assistantships is to really take the time to look into the topics being proposed and choose the direction you’re most invested in. Faculty members looking to assemble a research team are looking for collaborators, not assistants. We want collaborators who will bring a voice to the project and invest themselves in advancing the topic. Of course, the relevant skills and experience you have that are conducive to assisting with the project tasks as outlined are important, but more than anything, being prepared to be fully engaged, self-motivated, and self-critical with the subject matter is crucial. Another piece of advice is to be prepared for a wide range of project tasks and goals, and responsibilities. Architectural research is unique and fantastic in its ability to work with many media types as both inputs and outputs. We will read dense texts, summarize them, and dig through online and physical archives; we will draw using CAD and 3D modeling software, construct physical models, and interview people; we will organize events and exhibitions, write articles, render, and so much more.Architectural research is unique and fantastic in its ability to work with many media types as both inputs and outputs. – Lindsey Krug
ML: I really encourage applicants to make a personal connection to the subject matter of their chosen Mellowes assistantship–to tell us about how it speaks to your lived experience, any prior undergraduate study or professional experiences, or to the political and social issues that have brought you to study design. It’s also helpful to call out specific technical skills, like, in my case, filmmaking, gardening, construction, and graphic design, in addition to architecture.
Thanks to the donations of James and Maureen Mellowes, this unique master's research assistantship allows students to "work closely with faculty exploring topics that will vary annually [...] Mellowes Master’s Research Assistants (MMRAs) will receive a stipend of $11,000, which can be applied to cover tuition or dispersed as a summer salary. Note that the stipend covers the full cost of in-state tuition."
*Mellowes Master’s Research Assistantships are open to newly accepted incoming fall of 2023 3-Year and 2-Year Master of Architecture graduate students. Apply before January 1, 2023. To learn more about the Mellowes Master’s Research Assistantship, click here.
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