Catherine Dozier, a graduate student in UT’s College of Architecture and Design, traveled the world this summer to study the importance of cultural identity and analyze the ways in which it affects the design of public architecture.
Dozier’s travels were made possible by the Aydelott Travel Award, an endowed scholarship by the late architect Alfred Aydelott and his wife, Hope. The award funded the third-year School of Architecture graduate student’s eight-week journey to 15 cities throughout Finland, China, Japan, and Brazil.
“History and tradition impact architectural design, and having the opportunity to experience cultures around the world gave me a new lens through which to view those relationships,” said Dozier. “This trip, which began with a desire to better understand architecture from other parts of the world, was a transformative experience that will shape the rest of my academic as well as my professional career.”
Dozier’s excursion began in Finland, where she studied a cultural center that houses the parliament for the ancestors of a nomadic people who once roamed Arctic Scandinavia. From there, she travelled 3,000 miles to China, where she examined the organic architecture of the Harbin Opera House.
Dozier then spent three weeks in Japan studying the Tomihiro Hoshino Museum, which houses artwork and poetry by a celebrated quadriplegic artist. She ended her worldwide trek by studying the Praça das Artes, a cultural arts complex located in the historic center of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Dozier’s itinerary was based on her winning proposal, which outlined the agenda she planned to follow while completing her analysis.
“I wanted to broaden my scope of the world through extensive travel, and I was excited by the opportunity to experience firsthand the structures that I had learned about in class,” she said. “The reality of a space is absolutely incomprehensible from afar. My aim was to capture the intangible aspects of design, the details that really define a place. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill that desire.”
Aydelott and his wife, both Tennessee natives, hoped the endowment would inspire architecture students to become adept in conducting architectural analysis. An award is given to one student each from UT, Auburn University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Arkansas.
“This incredible opportunity was more inspiring that I could have imagined,” said Dozier. “I set out with the intention of analyzing the role of cultural identity in the design of architecture, but I did not realize what an effect the experience would have on me. It is currently driving my thesis, and I am sure that it will be a factor in what I design for the entirety of my professional career.”
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