SAH Announces 2015 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow

by SAH News | Dec 14, 2015
The Society of Architectural Historians has awarded the 2015 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship to architectural designer and historian Danielle S. Willkens, Assoc. AIA, FRSA, LEED AP BD+C. The prestigious $50,000 award allows an emerging scholar to travel anywhere in the world for one year to gain firsthand experience of architecture and landscapes. Willkens plans to investigate the impact of tourism and environmental changes on cultural heritage sites and landscapes through the lens of Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the Norwegian Sea, Cuba and Japan.

Danielle WillkensSpending four months in each location will allow Willkens to study key historical sites as she considers questions related to contemporary architectural practices in preservation, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. Willkens designed her itinerary to allow for cultural immersion and the opportunity to observe each region during the intersection of climatic and touristic extremes: the summer solstice and beginning of the Northern Lights in Iceland (June–September 2016), the religious and jazz festivals of Cuba in the winter (October 2016–January 2017), and the traditional ceremonies related to the arrival of spring in Japan (February–May 2017). 

“This is an incredible opportunity to undertake focused study at a slow, thoughtful pace in three distinct regions that I have never had the privilege of visiting. As a designer and historian, I am fascinated by the potential of architecture to serve as a cultural record while simultaneously offering creative solutions for sustainable approaches to living and working in a globalized, digitized world,” said Willkens. “The selected itinerary will allow me to examine projects outside of the canon as well as pressing issues related to the stewardship of cultural capital and sensitive sites in nations with rapidly rising tourist numbers.”

Willkens’ career thus far has straddled the disciplines of architectural history and architectural design. She has served as a design/build project manager, digital visualization researcher at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Monticello, university instructor, and instructor for a series of original “early intervention” design programs for gifted teenagers. An avid photographer and illustrator, she was the 2011 winner of the American Institute of Architects National Photography Competition and has contributed original graphics to several exhibitions and publications. In 2015, she received her PhD in architectural history and theory from The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and she holds an MArch from University of Virginia. Willkens currently serves as a visiting assistant professor of architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University. 

To document her journey, Willkens will use multi-modal techniques, including photography, videography, 3D scanning and drawing, and share her discoveries through monthly blog posts on the Society of Architectural Historians’ website (sah.org/blog). 

Willkens said, “I look forward to sharing my experiences sponsored by the Travelling Fellowship and continuing to test ways to broaden educational, interpretive and ecological discourses about the built environment to diverse audiences by disseminating analytical sketches, digital data, and written observations that blur the lines between the architectural practitioner, researcher and engaged traveler.”  

About the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship
The H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship was established in 2010 by a bequest from noted scholar and architectural historian H. Allen Brooks. It is intended to provide emerging scholars the opportunity to study by travel and contemplation while observing, photographing, writing and sketching, and to acquire knowledge that will contribute to one’s profession and to society. Brooks was an active member and past president of SAH. Applications for the next award cycle will open on April 1, 2016. For more information, visit sah.org/brooks

About the Society of Architectural Historians

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs. Learn more at sah.org.
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