October 26, 2018 Two Architecture Students, Alumni Granted International Research Awards


For the second year in a row, students in the College of Architecture and Design have placed in the international Undergraduate Awards competition.  This year, James Halliwell and Joseph Platt, fifth-year students in the School of Architecture, were named Commended Winners in the competition that is sometimes called the “junior Nobel Prize.”

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s leading international academic awards program that recognizes exceptional research, creative activity and original work of college students in the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts.

Halliwell’s research-based design project, titled “Animus Installation,” features a new development of Norris Dam, located on Clinch River. Norris Dam was one of the first major projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the mid-1930s, bringing economic development to East Tennessee.

“The project allowed me to consider Norris Dam holistically through time,” said Halliwell. “This resulted in my design, which explores the prospective futures of Norris Dam as a symbol of modernity and a hub for nature, culture and energy systems.”

Halliwell’s project was completed in Assoc. Professor Tracy Moir-McClean’s studio.

Platt’s project, titled “The Integrated Matrix,” explores his research on the capabilities of integrating new technology into existing hiking trails. Platt proposed in his project that pre-existing information kiosks, typically placed along hiking trails, be transformed into location-tracking devices. The data collected from these locations would transmit information back to a central location, or basecamp.

“The basecamp would display visuals for learning and allow interactions between people who are miles apart,” explains Platt. “The data collected can also be used for archiving and research purposes to track patterns across time and have the capability to assist in emergency situations.”

Platt completed his designs during studio led by Lecturer Michael Davis, architect at Sanders Pace Architecture.

As Commended Winners, Platt and Halliwell will travel to Dublin, Ireland, in November to attend The Undergraduate Awards Global Summit.

While in Ireland, they will present their work to other students as well as the professional panelists, including educators, activists and researchers from around the world. Platt and Halliwell also will attend lectures, workshops and debates and collaborate with students from across cultures and disciplines.

In addition, two alumni, Andrianna Thompson (I.Arch ’18) and Zane Russell (B.Arch ’18), were named commended winners of the Undergraduate Awards.

Andrianna Thompson's Undergraduate Awards design

Thompson, working alongside Architecture students Rachel Montgomery and Destin Manous, developed their winning project, “Curiosity Unveiled” in the spring 2018 Haiti Studio. Using the cultural aspects and current conditions of Fond-des-Blancs, the group developed a master plan for a co-housing community, including residential space as well as spaces for recreation, education and gardening.

Zane Russell's Undergraduate Award Design

Russell’s project, “Pharos of Wolf Point,” is a revitalized design for the Chicago Institute of Architecture. Sitting in the heart of downtown, his design integrates the Chicago Riverwalk and provides a collaborative habitat for students, teachers and members of the community.

UT students made up 13 percent of all submissions in the architecture and design category—the single largest contributor to this category. Overall, this year UA received 4,887 submissions representing 33 institutions across 46 countries.

This is the second year The Undergraduate Awards included a category for architecture and design. Rachel Hunt (I.Arch ’18) was the first student from the College of Architecture and Design to place in the category’s inaugural year. She earned a Highly Commended place with her research titled, “Herbaria.”

All undergraduate students at UT are encouraged to submit to the Undergraduate Awards. The deadline for submissions is May of each year. For information, visit

Read more about last year’s Highly Commended winner, Rachel Hunt.