Six Projects Awarded Evolve Seed Grants

Six Projects Awarded Evolve Seed Grants

January 30, 2023

We are pleased to announce that the fifth round of the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) Faculty Evolve Seed Grants have been awarded to six faculty to support their research and creative work. These grants provide up to $10,000 to individuals or teams for research and creative work that advances CAP’s mission to ignite evolution that enriches places for people and the planet. 

Thank you to the review committee: Jennifer Steffel Johnson, assistant professor and associate chair of Urban and Regional Planning; Ann Komara, professor of Landscape Architecture; and Rick Sommerfeld, associate professor of Architecture and Director of Design Building Certificate Programs and Initiatives.

Award Recipients

Jody Beck

Jody Beck
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Co-PI; Erin Sedlacko, Colorado School of Mines

Title: Examining the use of recycled water in agricultural production in Colorado

Agricultural production in the Intermountain West faces significant water resource challenges from decreasing available water supply. This study will evaluate the impacts – potentially positive or negative – of using recycled water for food production in Colorado. Parallel studies of soil health, crop yield, and food safety will be undertaken for potable and recycled water over the course of three growing seasons.

Being able to show that there is a connection between urban land use and the potential for growing food in peri-urban areas along the Front Range will be used to advocate for an evolution in how we distribute land use in response to population growth in the mountain west toward a resolution that reduces the environmental impact of food production and increases food quality and predictability for urban residents. The outcome of fresher, higher quality food – particularly fresh vegetables – grown less expensively with reused water not only enriches the human inhabitation of cities by putting fewer demands on the environment but also thereby enriches the environment for non-human ecologies.

Assia Crawford

Assia Crawford
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

Title: Lightweight Myco-ceramic Bio-composites for Applications in Architectural Acoustics: Fabrication Method Development and Prototypes

The project will explore the potential of digitally optimized ceramic structures to serve as scaffolds for the cultivation of sound-absorbing fungi-based materials. In the context of architectural wall construction, acoustical treatments and interior finishes commonly have known short-term lifespans, with demolition contributing significant building waste to landfills. Mycelium composite materials (myco-materials) have received attention because they require little energy to produce, are bio-degradable, and possess a range of tunable properties that give them to promise to replace petro-chemical foam, textiles, and plastic materials. This research project will test the structural and material composition properties of various layer deposition patterns of ceramics interwoven with living myco-materials.

Kevin Hirth

Kevin Hirth
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

Title: Untitled Upcoming Book. Expanding Normal, Denver

The story of Denver’s distinctly unique brand of American building is one defined by a material subculture rooted in boom-bust economics, an atomized model of infill development, and a predilection towards catalog-copy detailing and a “we will figure it out” mentality. These contributing factors result in a largely heretofore untold story of cheap, fast, and good building that is unique to Denver. This project includes the production and completion of a book manuscript documenting the particularities of Denver’s building culture and history and distinguishing Colorado and Denver as a singular built environment with its own traditions, idiosyncrasies, and exceptionalisms. This book manuscript will build upon and flush out the previous exhibition “Normal, Denver: Field Reports from a Margin,” documenting and producing an additional 111 building drawings to complement the original 111 drawings displayed in the History Colorado Museum in 2021.

José Ibarra

José Ibarra
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

Title: Latinx Coalition Chats

This grant will support the development of Latinx Coalition Chats, a public program that explores Latinx design identity while expanding connections amongst other minority, majority, and community groups. This program enriches places for people and the planet by addressing the disparities of Latinx representation in architecture schools and professional architectural practices. Exploring the theme, “What is Latinx identity?” this event reconciles the individual and shared experiences of Latinx designers, hoping to see systemic changes in society and the built environment at large.

Matt Shea's portrait

Matt Shea
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

Title: The Primitive Hut: Primitive Geometry and Site Agency

Primitive Hut is a speculative design project that challenges the lineage of the primitive as handed down through the architectural canon by theorists such as Laugier and Gottfried Semper. For these theorists, the primitive was the simplest, most distilled, essential explanation of architecture. These qualities were purported to explain the genesis of architecture and the subsequent theories that relied upon it. This project challenges the conclusions of these two theorists. On the one hand, it challenges Laugier’s claim that all architectural elements are derived from the primitive hut by going beyond the primitive elements to the primitive or Platonic geometries. On the other hand, it challenges Semper’s claim that all architecture can be categorized as either stereotomic or tectonic by investigating the potential for tectonic assemblies to function as stereotomic masses. This project hopes to exhibit that, when reconsidered, the potential of the “primitive” is far from primitive.

Manish Shirgaokar's portrait

Manish Shirgaokar
Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Co-PI: Aditi Misra, Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering

Title: Investigating Downstream Impacts of Urban Renewal on Housing: What Cycles of Change do Transportation-Adjacent Communities experience?

Urban renewal has marred cities and decimated communities, especially neighborhoods with people of color. Due to limited historical longitudinal data, scholars have relied on archives and community-generated evidence, providing a sturdy foundation for further work. However, recent innovations in land use and property transaction data have made it possible to evaluate theorized impacts of urban renewal against actual market behavior. Given the detrimental effects of urban renewal and past transportation decisions, we ask: how did places that were historically marginalized change over time, and how have repeated cycles of transportation investments impacted them? We focus on Denver since it provides an important case study to examine these questions, given Denver’s troubling history of urban renewal and consequent investments in transportation throughout the Region. Combining land use, census, and actual property transaction datasets, we will examine how properties in formerly redlined areas were further impacted due to transportation investments. The findings from this research will enable a nuanced discussion of social justice-oriented policies at the local and regional levels, where links between the supply of affordable housing and accessible locations need to be established. Thus, we propose to lay the empirical groundwork for igniting evolution in policymaking to enrich Denver through just housing and transportation investments.