Foo Wins 2017 KPF Traveling Fellowship

concrete model
Adalaj Preschool by Justin Foo (B.Arch. '18).
columnar structure on Arts Quad at Cornell
Plastic Loop Column, by Justin Foo (B.Arch. '18) and Xinyu Xu (M.Arch.II '16).
News
June 16, 2017

Justin Foo (B.Arch. '18) is one of three winners of the prestigious 2017 Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Traveling Fellowship. Foo will travel across the globe to sites in Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Bangladesh, Japan, and the U.S. during an eight-week journey this summer.

The ambitious itinerary is designed to allow Foo an extensive investigation of "the most ubiquitous architectural material in the world — concrete," according to his proposal. Foo has long been interested in materiality and has tried to challenge the limits of every material used in his work, including wood, metal, and plastic. His particular fascination with concrete is based on its difficulty of classification.

"[Concrete] is at once liquid and solid, polished and rough, ancient and modern, natural and constructed, brutal and sensitive," Foo says. The buildings he has selected to investigate during his trip were selected as examples of the adaptability of concrete to each architect's agenda, and for their divergent geographic and cultural contexts. Sites include the Bank of London and South America in Buenos Aires; the church of Saint-Pierre in Lyon, France; the Palazzo dello Sport in Rome; the Kyoto International Conference Center in Osaka; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, among many others.

Winners of the annual competition are selected by portfolio review. Foo's portfolio included various projects that address some of the sites he will visit this summer.

"Justin's portfolio contained an impressive range of scales and types of work, from a wearable drawing instrument to a multistory building that explored the visual, spatial, and structural possibilities of a uniquely stacked set of story-height folded plates," says Mark Cruvellier, department chair and the Nathaniel and Margaret Owings Professor of Architecture. "Beyond this, however, was a unifying close engagement with and representation of materials — whether by means of spectacular models or through inventive, project-specific drawings, and often both working together. These representations directly supported the theme for his proposed itinerary: namely, an in-depth and exhaustive study of concrete in architecture."

Each year, KPF awards three travel grants to students who are in their penultimate year at one of 26 design schools. The goal of the award is to allow students to broaden their education through a summer of travel before their final year at school. Each winner receives $8,000 for their trip and another $2,000 after submitting a report about their travels.

The other two winners of 2017 fellowships are Jocelyn Sivakorn Arnold from The Architectural Association and Jane Jia Weng from Yale University. This year's jury included Forth Bagley, principal at KPF; Deborah Berke, dean and professor, Yale School of Architecture, and founder, Deborah Berke Partners; Victoria Sambunaris, photographer and lecturer in photography, Yale University School of Art; James von Klemperer, president of KPF; and Michael Young, assistant professor, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union, and principal, Young and Ayata.

Previous recipients of the KPF Traveling Fellowship include Javier Galindo (M.Arch. '11), Hyemin (Amy) Jang (B.Arch. '16), and Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17).

By Rebecca Bowes