25 Reasons to Keep the NEA

Headlines, 24. February 2017
By: John Hill

Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculpture at Philip Johnson Glass House (Photo: Richard Barnes, courtesy of Philip Johnson Glass House)

Reports have indicated that the Trump administration's upcoming budget cuts will include eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, which funds a wide array of arts programs. Architecture programs might not jump to the fore when considering NEA grants, but a few examples illustrate just how important they can be.

The NEA's budget for 2016 was a scant $148 million. Alongside the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which would be privatized and eliminated respectively, the trio of government arts organizations make up only 0.02% of the U.S. government's annual spending. It's a negligible amount for organizations seen as wasteful by the President and the GOP, but for arts organizations they are often a necessary means of getting their programs off the ground.

Below are 25 recent and upcoming programs culled from the more than 400 grants awarded by the NEA this century,* revealing how the NEA plays an important role in the production of architectural culture in the United States.

*Grants were found through a keyword search for "architecture" on the NEA Grant Search website. Descriptions come from the NEA website.

Architectural League of New York

"To support The Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers, a juried portfolio design competition. The project is an opportunity for designers who are ten years or less out of architecture school to reach a broad public, as well as for general audiences to discover work produced by a new generation of designers."

Association of Architecture Organizations, Inc.

"To support the 2016 Design Matters Conference. The goal of the conference is to connect design educators and representatives from not-for-profit service providers across the country for networking and professional development training."

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

"To support the digital Journal of Architectural Education. This online platform will provide a digital infrastructure for the production and dissemination of architectural scholarship and design experimentation via interactive functionality that will reach new audiences with scholarly publications in design."

Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation

"To support the expansion of the online digital archive, Women of 20th Century American Architecture. The expansion will involve a jury to select and research the work of significant women architects and designers who helped shape the built environment in the United States prior to 1970."

​Bronx Museum of the Arts

"To support the exhibition and catalogue BEYOND THE SUPER SQUARE: ON THE CORNER OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE, including related public programming. The exhibition will demonstrate how Latin American artists have been influenced by Latin American and Caribbean modernist architecture."

The Bronx Museum of the Arts: SuperPuesto, part of "Beyond the Supersquare" (Photo: Nina Robinson, courtesy of the Bronx Museum of the Arts)

​Chicago Architecture Biennial Inc.

"To support 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The Biennial will comprise a wide range of exhibitions, full-scale installations, and public programs led by important practitioners and thinkers in architecture and design. The biennial was first hosted in 2015 and is the only architecture-focused event of its kind in North America."

Chicago Architecture Foundation

"To support Open House Chicago (OHC) 2017. OHC is a free, citywide event that offers public access to hidden places and spaces throughout the city, along with other public programming such as performances, demonstrations, exhibitions, and youth education programs."

Cultural Landscape Foundation

"To support the research and development of the online database, What's Out There (WOT) in Texas. The database will feature materials describing the historic, designed landscape of Texas. WOT currently features more than 1,400 site descriptions from across the country, with 700 landscape architect and designer profiles, and more than 9,000 images.

Elmhurst Art Museum

"To support the exhibition Mies in Chicago. The new permanent exhibition will examine the work of architect Mies van der Rohe, who emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1937 and was a leading proponent of modern architecture. This is the first permanent exhibition to focus on van der Rohe's body of work in the United States."

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

"To support Taliesin West Fabric Roofing Design Investigation. The foundation will conduct research and analysis to investigate alternatives for the restoration of fabric roofs for Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, designed between 1938 and 1959."

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation: Taliesin West Drafting Studio (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

"To support The L.A. Forum Reader. A collection of archival and new writings on architecture and urbanism in Los Angeles, newly commissioned essays will update and provide context for previously presented works. Images drawn from newsletters and exhibition posters will illustrate the publication."

MAK Center for Art and Architecture

"To support an exhibition on the aesthetic roots of architect R.M. Schindler. The exhibition, hosted within the Schindler House, will focus on works by Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, and Adolf Loos, and will include everyday objects alongside various architectural models, drawings, and other media."

National Building Museum

"To support design, planning, and architecture educational programs. The award-winning educational programs will target underserved youth in Washington via design curriculum delivered at the museum and at local schools."

National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States

"To support the commissioning of a site-specific fog sculpture at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Through the fog sculpture, the world's preeminent fog artist Fujiko Nakaya will reinterpret the Modernist residential architecture and its surrounding landscape to provide visitors with a unique and refreshing lens to view the Glass House."

New York Foundation for Architecture, Inc.

"To support Learning by Design:NY, an architectural residency program in New York City public schools. Working closely with classroom teachers to create a custom program, the Center for Architecture Foundation will use the study of architecture and design to promote learning and discovery across core subject areas, employing visual tools and activities to inspire creative thinking and problem-solving."

Installation inside the Schindler House (Photo: Courtesy of MAK Center)

Northern Lights.mn

"To support the re-creation of Marcel Breuer's St. Paul house (1962) that will be installed at the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul as part of Northern Spark nuit blanche festival. Minnesota artist Chris Larson will ... recreate it to scale following the original architectural plans, using wood frame, cardboard and paint; set on a platform, the house will then be set on fire as a symbolic act of celebration and destruction."

openhousenewyork inc.

"To support the 14th annual Open House New York (OHNY) Weekend. The initiative is a citywide festival that celebrates architecture and urban design in New York City. More than 200 of New York's most architecturally and culturally significant sites and buildings - many typically not accessible to the public - will open their doors for two days of tours and talks."

Pacific Northwest Center for Architecture and Design

"To support DESIGN BY CHANCE: Design in Public 2017. Design in Public will explore the ways design deals with an increasingly complex, unpredictable world and challenges linear and top-down approaches to design."

Pamphlet Architecture, Ltd.

"To support the publication of Pamphlet Architecture. Young professionals, selected from a juried competition, will introduce their fresh ideas in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and design to an international audience."

Queens Museum of Art

"To support the exhibition, Never Built: New York. The exhibition will feature projects from the 19th-century to the present, including buildings, master plans, parks, transit schemes, amusements, airports, and bridges that were never realized."

Buckminster Fuller, "Dome Over Manhattan" (1961), part of "Never Built New York" (Image via Queens Museum of Art)

Society of Architectural Historians

"To support Reading the City, a print publication, online resource, and public programming about the built environment of Savannah, Georgia. In partnership with the Savannah College of Art and Design, professors and architectural history students will develop a series of walking tours that explore the architecture of the city."

Southern California Institute of Architecture

"To support SCI-Arc Design Immersion Days (DID). A hands-on summer program for high school students, ... DID gives students the opportunity to learn basic design skills, cultivate an appreciation for design's presence and impact in the world, and explore their potential as future architects and designers."

St. Louis Art Museum

"To support St. Louis Modern, an exhibition, catalogue, and public programming on architecture and decorative arts from 1935-65. Extensive research at other museums will provide material for the catalogue and exhibit. Free public programs will enhance the visitors' experience."

Storefront for Art and Architecture

"To support Architecture Conflicts. Architecture Conflicts will investigate the power of architecture in the construction and mediation of social, territorial, and political relations within a community or a region, fostering a critical dialogue within the field around the role of architecture and design in the wake of global conflicts."

Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture

"To support Van Alen Institute's semi-annual public program series. The programs, organized around a particular theme, will provide an accessible forum for addressing contemporary issues of architecture and design in urban life, which are approachable to design professionals and engaged residents alike."

Storefront for Art and Architecture (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)