BY RYAN WADDOUPS
The architect’s winning proposal “Anatomical Transformations in Classical Architecture,” examines classical Roman and Italian architecture through contributions of the African diaspora.
What’s Happening: The Harvard University Graduate School of Design has named Germane Barnes the winner of the 2021 Wheelwright Prize.
The Download: The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s annual Wheelwright Prize awards $100,000 to a promising early-career architect who’s pursuing travel-based research that may leave a wide-ranging impact on the field. Previous winners have circled the globe to unpack a wide range of social, cultural, environmental, and technological issues, such as Aleksandra Jaeschke’s study of greenhouse architecture and Daniel Fernández Pascual’s research into the intertidal zone.
This year, Harvard GSD selected architect Germane Barnes, whose proposal, “Anatomical Transformations in Classical Architecture,” examines classical Roman and Italian architecture through contributions of the African diaspora. Barnes will start his research this summer, with archival research geared toward generating an index of the portico typology in Italy and Northern Africa, as well as maps that show the spatial mobility of the porch and portico across cultures. Central to his proposal is the idea that “porch-as-portico” may offer a new frame on the spatial and conceptual terrain through which one finds inventions of race, identity, and the built environment.
In Their Own Words: “The past year has shown the world that marginalized communities offer more than a cursory look, but a thorough excavation of their contributions and legacies,” Barnes said in a statement. “As a Black architect, I’ve struggled with the absence of my identity in the profession, and there have been moments where I questioned my ideologies because they failed to gain recognition in prominent architecture circles. To believe that the only way to measure success is acceptance was a thought I had to exertimate. I’m fortunate to have a support system that challenges these systems of exclusion because it gives importance and agency to Black spatial investigations.”
Surface Says: A well-earned congrats to Barnes, who’s shedding much-needed light on the overlooked contributions of Black architects throughout history.