LSU Architecture Professor Wins Prestigious Rome Prize

(Baton Rouge, La) – An associate professor of architecture at LSU has received a prestigious Rome Prize in architecture from the American Academy in Rome, which awards the highly coveted fellowships each year to a handful of emerging designers, artists and scholars. Ursula Emery-McClure, who has been on the LSU architecture faculty since 1999, and her architect husband Michael McClure have been jointly awarded the prize, which includes a fellowship to study at the Academy in Rome for 11 months beginning this fall.

“We’re still a little bit giddy about it,” says Emery-McClure. “This is the most prestigious award we could win at this point in our careers.”
Established in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is a center that sustains independent artistic pursuits and humanistic studies. Each year, through a national competition, the Rome Prize is awarded to 15 emerging artists working in such fields as architecture, landscape architecture, design, literature, music and visual arts. Rome Prize fellowships are designed for artists and scholars in the early or middle stages of their careers. Previous winners have gone on to become some of the most highly regarded experts in their fields in the world.

The McClures have already received international recognition for creating a new way of thinking about building and designing in swampy, marshy south Louisiana. They call their paradigm terra viscus, and it’s an approach to building that applies the principles of a design style called critical regionalism — which emphasizes fusing what worked in the past with the needs of the present — to a landscape that is constantly vacillating between a solid and semi-liquid state.

In their award-winning application to the Academy, the McClures proposed applying the principles of terra viscus to a study of Rome and its surrounding environs. Through multi-media field studies that include sketches, water-color and photography, as well as historical research, they plan to gather information, analyze their findings and make correlations to conditions on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Their end product will include a published pamphlet of graphic, written and design proposal studies.

“This is a tremendous honor,” says David Cronrath, dean of the College of Art and Design. “It reflects very positively both on the McClures and on the School of Architecture here at LSU.”