AAF and French Heritage Society Announce 2011 Hunt Fellow

Robert J. Hotes, AIA, LEED AP, has been selected by the American Architectural Foundation and the French Heritage Society as the 2011 Richard Morris Hunt Fellow.

The Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship, a program of the American Architectural Foundation and the French Heritage Society, is awarded to architects pursuing a career in historic preservation. It offers American and French design professionals an intensive six-month exchange experience that showcases the latest scholarship and practice around historic preservation and architectural heritage.

“I am extremely excited and honored by this opportunity to broaden my horizons. As the world has grown seemingly smaller, it becomes only truer that study abroad is important for all professions,” says Hotes. A senior associate at John Milner Architects, Inc., Hotes focuses on the restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings for institutional, governmental, and other non-profit clients. Prior to joining his current firm, he worked for the Philadelphia office of RMJM Hillier as Senior Preservation Architect in the Preservation Architecture Practice Group.

Image of Richard J. Hotes

Robert J. Hotes

The six-month Hunt Prize is named for Richard Morris Hunt, the first American architect to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and one of the most renowned American architects of the 19th century. The Hunt Prize alternates each year between a French architect and an American architect and carries a stipend of $25,000. The program is supported in part through a generous gift from the Lafarge Corporation.

The program includes extensive travel and interaction with local preservation professionals in the host country. It affords design professionals the opportunity to broaden their outlooks on architectural heritage. Americans see a variety of current projects and are introduced to the state institutions that govern French historic monuments and landscapes. French recipients are introduced to federal, state and local preservation organizations, professionals in public and private practices and visit significant historic sites and projects applicable to their proposed study in the United States.

As this year’s Hunt Fellow, Hotes intends to study the approaches to “compatibility” and “differentiation” as adopted by French architects and historic preservation professionals when dealing with new design in historic contexts.

“Throughout the development and implementation of theories and standards for historic preservation, architects have faced the issue of how to insert new design into a historic context, whether that means modifications or additions to a historic building or a new building in a historic context or historic district.” The U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, says Hotes, state that any new design “shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features” of the existing historic structure or context. He wants to explore this standard as it is defined and put into practice in France.

“I want to understand how government agencies, architects, preservationists, and others responsible for historic patrimony view this question in France, in hopes of giving greater focus to the issue back in America,” says Hotes.

Incorporating his other professional interests in building technology, environmental sustainability, and architectural conservation, Hotes will also focus on the innovative construction materials and conservation techniques being developed for use in historic contexts. His study will explore the range of viewpoints in France on the design of additions and new constructions and the variety of attitudes toward the pre-existing context, from stylistic continuity to striking contrast.

“When designing these new elements,” he asks, “what are the cutting-edge, 21st-century building technologies being used in France?” He will also explore the various approaches and degrees to which architects and preservation professionals either conform to or challenge the issue of compatibility versus differentiation.

“The Hunt Prize is very much a two-way exchange, so I hope to give as much as I receive, sharing what I’ve learned in my twenty years of work,” says Hotes. “It’s easy for any architecture professional in the U.S. to become focused solely on what we do here at home. We see international projects in magazines, for example, but the ability to interact directly with the leading preservation architects of France and to investigate their projects in a deeper, more comprehensive way, and then using that experience to inform my own practice back here based on that wider knowledge—that’s what’s important and so unique about the opportunities provided by the Hunt Prize.”

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Posted in: Preservation, Print, Richard Morris Hunt Prize, Sustainability, Technology
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