The Rotch Travelling Scholarship is an annual two-stage design competition that results in one person, deemed the Rotch Scholar, traveling the world for at least six months studying architecture. In the first stage of the selection process, a weekend-long preliminary design competition is held. Finalists from this competition go on to compete in the second stage, a 10-day competition culminating in a design presentation to a distinguished jury in Boston.
The 2020 Rotch Travelling Scholar is David Costanza, Director and Lead Designer at DCS (David Costanza Studio) and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He will receive a $40,000 stipend to spend at least six months researching and travelling to study architecture.
Explore the competition challenge and the submissions from the finalists below.
View the entries from finalists for the first and second stage of the competition below.
About the Rotch Travelling Scholarship
Founded in 1883 in honor of Benjamin Smith Rotch, the Rotch Travelling Scholarship is the oldest of its kind in the United States and its influence has been felt throughout the entire profession. The roster of Rotch Scholars includes many of the country’s most distinguished architects: Henry Bacon, Ralph Walker, Wallace Harrison, Louis Skidmore, Edward D. Stone, Gordon Bunshaft, Victor Lundy and many others.
Benjamin Smith Rotch of Milton, Massachusetts studied painting in Paris in 1847 and cultivated an early appreciation for the value of foreign travel in stimulating young architects’ imagination through contact with great buildings of the past. One of his sons, Arthur Rotch, studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris from 1874 to 1879 and further cemented this belief, as well as the Rotchs’ active patronage to fellow artists.
Upon the senior Rotch’s death in 1882, Arthur and his siblings—Abbot Lawrence, Edith, Aimee (Mrs. Winthrop Sargent) and Annie Lawrence (Mrs. Horatio Appleton Lamb)—established the Rotch Travelling Scholarship on October 1, 1883.
In 2002, the Rotch Trustees expanded upon the mission of architectural education through foreign travel with the establishment of the Rotch Travelling Studio grant.
When the Rotch family executed an indenture of trust on December 29, 1883 for “the advancement of education in architecture,” the stipend was set at $1,000 per year for two years of travel abroad. In 1912, the stipend amount began to increase gradually until 1936, when the Rotch Trustees and Scholarship Committee substantially increased the sum and reduced the required travel time. Today, the Rotch Scholar receives $38,500 or more for at least six months of travel.
In 1980, the Rotch Trustees requested that the Boston Society of Architects appoint a Rotch Scholarship Committee to advise and “develop a scheme of examinations.”
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. In 1892, a two-stage system of design examinations was established. The preliminary jury would select several drawings that displayed evidence of “architectural potential” from which the final jury would select the Rotch Scholar. In 1959, the Rotch Scholarship Committee moved from this type of preliminary competition toward a “search for imaginative capacity” in future Rotch Scholars. Today, that search is conducted through a two-stage design competition.