Skip to content

2018 Rotch Travelling Scholarship Competition


Rendering by winner Elle Gerdeman.

Image courtesy of Elle Gerdeman.


Founded in 1883 in honor of Benjamin Smith Rotch, the Rotch Travelling Scholarship (the Rotch) is the oldest of its kind in the United States. From the start, applicants were expected to be proficient in a variety of topics, including knowledge of architectural history, construction, French and drawings from the cast. Today, the “search for imaginative capacity” in a future Rotch Scholar is conducted through a two-stage design competition.

Though supporting international travel, the Rotch is in essence an opportunity for the local design community. Applicants must either have a professional degree from an accredited Massachusetts architecture program or must have practiced for at least one year at a Massachusetts firm.

The winner, deemed the Rotch Scholar, receives $38,500 or more to travel and study abroad for a minimum of six months. The winner must keep a journal/blog documenting his or her travels in images, drawings and text—follow along the current Rotch Scholar's travels at

This year, the Rotch preliminary competition, An Architectural Appropriation, challenged participants to consider architectural appropriation as a productive act that generates complex, intentional, and original creative works. More specifically, the competition asked participants to appropriate elements of six canonical modern houses to generate a new project: Villa Stein-de-Monzie designed by Le Corbusier; Muller House designed by Adolf Loos; House at New Canaan designed by Philip Johnson; Eames House, Case Study House No. 8 designed by Charles and Ray Eames; Farnsworth House designed by Mies van der Rohe; and House at Bordeaux designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

The final competition, Libris Redux, asked finalists to consider type, typology, and the twenty-first-century library while designing the consolidation of the library of the Museum of Fine Arts. Boston (MFA) into a single building located between the MFA and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, along the Emerald Necklace. The brief asked how the library might maintain traditional, foundational components and composition, and how it might re-define space for new programs and means of knowledge-sharing, and the finalists answered with the designs seen here.

Elle Gerdeman, Pixels to Pulp

Charles Sharpless, Frame for Books

Charlotte Lipschitz AIA, Untitled
Alison Von Glinow, The Public
S. Austin Ward AIA, New Hierarchies
Peter Zuroweste, The Sphere, The Cube, The Arch

Steven Foote FAIA, vice president
Peter Wiederspahn AIA, secretary; Northeastern University School of Architecture; Wiederspahn Architecture
Joshua Simoneau AIA, Beyer Blinder Belle
Grace La, Harvard Graduate School of Design; La Dallman Architects
Kiel Moe, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Amanda Lawrence, Northeastern University School of Architecture
Elizabeth Christoforetti, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Supernormal

For more information on the Rotch Travelling Scholarship go to