For the third time in four years, a Philadelphia University student or graduate has won the John Stewardson Memorial Fellowship in Architecture. After reviewing more than 50 entries, the jury named Melanie Whedon ’14 the winner for her proposal “Moments of Infinity” on March 3 in the PSFS Building in Philadelphia. PhilaU fifth-year architecture student Brian Wise was a finalist.
The Stewardson, which provides a $10,000 traveling scholarship, is an annual competition of the seven accredited architecture programs in Pennsylvania, also including University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, Temple, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State and Marywood Universities. Upon the completion of her travels, Whedon will give a public formal presentation on her experience at PhilaU.
“The aim of this project was to connect the user with our own planet before being able to admire the infinity of space,” explained Whedon, a 2014 Stewardson runner-up who’s currently with the firm KSS Architects. “I wanted to create an experience that really drew attention to the human scale in the context of our environment, our planet and our universe, making us feel small but our impact significant.”
The competition is a 10-day charrette undertaken solo, without any outside assistance. Whedon’s winning proposal was a design for an observatory on Mt. Lemmon, a mountaintop adjacent to Tucson, Ariz., used by the University of Arizona as a unique teaching and research facility. Her proposal will travel to all seven accredited institutions during the spring semester.
“Melanie’s project demonstrates awareness of the logistics of design and, more importantly, illustrates the designer’s attitude for a deeper, more meaningful architectural experience,” said Andrew Hart, visiting professor of architecture at PhilaU and managing secretary to the 116th John Stewardson Fellowship in Architecture 2017. “Her accomplishment speaks to the strength of the University, focus of the program and Melanie as a talented designer.”
The design jury panel included Petra Stanev, of Stanev Potts; Ken Jacobs, PhilaU adjunct professor of interior architecture and architectural studies; John MacCallum, of HOK; and Adam Block, astronomer and founder of University of Arizona’s SkyCenter Observatory.
“I’m thrilled that PhilaU graduate Melanie Whedon won the 2017 Stewardson Competition in Architecture,” said Barbara Klinkhammer, executive dean of PhilaU’s College of Architecture and the Built Environment. “This is the third time in four years that a PhilaU student or graduate won the award. I couldn’t be prouder of our students and faculty.”