Micajah Tucker Wins 2019 Pella Prize

A building acts as a formal joint between tangible, environmental phenomena: for example, land, water, and sky. Structure has the potential to accentuate and intensify these phenomena through alignment with or defiance of existing datums. How the structure is articulated can concretize intangible qualities, such as latent forces or atmospheric character. The gathering and reinterpretation of physical and qualitative characteristics through the language of an expressive structure allows for a building to embody and reveal qualities of place.

This proposition is explored through an architectural intervention on Williams Island in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At the river’s edge, sky, water, and land converge. The character of the river’s edge is one of dynamism and change. The intervention allows for the river’s boundary to exist while simultaneously creating a place above the riverbank that defies both the existing horizon and gravity. Iterative building sections—supplemented by quick, speculative drawings—are used to study the intersection of site and structure.

The focus of my thesis was a direct result of my previous design studios. Over the past four years, I had built up a foundation of technical knowledge and hours of experience working on my design process. This was really thanks to my professors. Not only were they extremely knowledgeable, but they also gave me and my classmates the freedom to establish our own way of working. With this freedom, I cultivated an interest in structure’s potential to be sculptural and meaningful. This was a natural starting point for my thesis. I also saw fifth year as a final opportunity to immerse myself in and refine my design process. I tried to push myself to keep iterating my work throughout the year while maintain a high level of graphic presentation.

I have recently accepted a job offer at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Wilkes-Barre office. BCJ will be a great place to gain experience and mediate the transition between school and practice. In the future, I hope to relocate to the west coast after becoming a licensed architect.