Rong Receives 2016 KPF Traveling Fellowship

Work by Helena Rong
superCloud (2016), a proposed data center in Svalbard, Norway. rendering / Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17)
Work by Helena Rong
City Storage: An Urban Manifesto for Rome (2016), a “ready-to-store” temporary warehouse to house and exhibit archaeological fragments discovered during excavation in Rome, Italy. rendering / Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17)
superCloud (2016), a proposed data center in Svalbard, Norway. rendering / Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17) City Storage: An Urban Manifesto for Rome (2016), a “ready-to-store” temporary warehouse to house and exhibit archaeological fragments discovered during excavation in Rome, Italy. rendering / Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17)
News
June 22, 2016

Helena Rong (B.Arch. '17) is one of three winners of the prestigious 2016 Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Traveling Fellowship. Rong will travel to eight sites around the world this summer including Seinäjoki, Finland; Fordlandia and Brasilia, Brazil; and Songdo, South Korea, among others.

Rong's extensive itinerary is part of her proposal to investigate and remediate what she has identified as "strange urbanisms." According to Rong, she has selected specific sites where she will analyze "discrepancies between often utopian blueprints envisioned by great architects and their unexpected realities."

"Utopian urbanism becomes strange when the site or structure falls out of context and fails to address contemporary needs or keep up with the constantly changing demands of the world," says Rong in her project proposal. "The journey will primarily be documented through intensive research and site visits, photographs, and analytic drawings. Using these insights as a foundation for my understanding of strange urbanism, I will form my own agenda to speculate on ways of remediating these urban conditions."

Winners of the competition are selected by portfolio review. Rong's winning portfolio featured various projects that addressed several of the sites she will visit this summer.

"Helena's portfolio is not merely an assemblage of beautiful and varied design projects; rather, it comes together as one meticulously constructed and unified body of work," commented Mark Cruvellier, department chair and Nathaniel and Margaret Owings Professor of Architecture. "From imagined reconstructions of the flooded Campo Marcio in historic Rome to skyscraper IT-data-server farms in the Svalbard Islands, from body armor that becomes constructed landscape to six-arm robotic manipulations that mimic coral growth patterns, the portfolio effectively represents Helena's creative work and graphical abilities in support of her written travel proposal to visit, examine, and project upon utopian cities and landscapes in Europe, South America, and Asia."

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.

This year's KPF Fellowship jury included Nader Tehrani, dean of Cooper Union and principal, NADAAA; Sara Goldhagen, author and architectural critic; Andrés Jaque, professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; David Malott, principal at KPF; and KPF President, James von Klemperer.

By Edith Fikes

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