Architecture fellow will explore images’ effect on spaces

Sarah Blankenbaker

Sarah Blankenbaker, recipient of a fellowship honoring the late Doug Garofalo, a visionary architect and UIC faculty member.

Architectural designer Sarah Blankenbaker has been awarded the 2015-2016 Douglas A. Garofalo Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture.

Blankenbaker has been on the architecture faculty at UIC since 2011, teaching design studios and technology seminars. She also teaches YArch, a summer program she describes as “for people who, like me, discover architecture while pursuing other interests.”

Blankenbaker became interested in architecture while photographing Chicago buildings and spaces as a student of mathematics and visual art at the University of Chicago.

Her fellowship project is to explore how images influence spaces, from the 15th-century theories of Leon Batista Alberti, to picture windows, to digital animation.

“The drawings Alberti explained in his treatise also described a space. This space found its correlate in Italian piazzas designed to be viewed as if in perspective. What, then, are the spaces elicited by the images we make today? I’ll explore this question both historically, through research, and through the production of artifacts,” Blankenbaker said.

Before joining UIC, Blankenbaker worked for Terreform in New York. While she worked for Zago Architecture in Los Angeles, she was part of a team that exhibited in “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Her writing has appeared in Log, Future Anterior, and Time + Architecture. She earned a master’s degree at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, where her thesis, “Superposition,” was named best graduate thesis.

“The Garofalo Fellowship is, for me, a rare opportunity to develop ideas that don’t yet translate neatly into existing outlets for architectural work. I see it as laying the groundwork for the coming years of my career,” Blankenbaker said.

“I’m excited to be teaching as well. I’ve enjoyed working with UIC students so far and think they’ll be an invaluable part of the process.”

The Douglas A. Garofalo Fellowship honors the late Chicago-based architect and UIC professor Douglas Garofalo (1958–2011). The nine-month teaching fellowship enables emerging designers to teach studio and seminar courses in UIC’s undergraduate and graduate programs; conduct independent research; lecture at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; and present a spring exhibition at the UIC School of Architecture. The fellowship is made possible through individual and corporate donations and grants from the Graham Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

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