Alumnus Wins Rome Prize

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ross Altheimer, ASLA, LEED AP, (BSAS 1999) of HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA) has received the prestigious Rome Prize. The 11-month fellowship will allow Altheimer to pursue his research in urban infrastructure and city design at the American Academy in Rome, Italy beginning in September 2012.

Altheimer will explore the interdependence of architecture, landscape, infrastructure and culture in Rome’s subterranean city. He will examine the ongoing expansion of the Rome Metro Line C, which has led to several major archaeological discoveries that have impacted the expansion. He also will study the urban anomalies that have arisen out the thousands of years of construction and deconstruction.

“Rome’s subterranean is where history plays out,” Altheimer said. “It is rich with strata and stories: layers of fill, quarries, crypts, temples, foundations, water infrastructure, artesian wells, mushrooms, exotic plants, large rats and metro lines. Here, both the collective memory of the city and the overlay of the contemporary city are made visible.”

Altheimer will use a combination of representational and communication tools to document his research, including map making, interviews, film, surveying, drawing, walking tours and blogging.

“I will seek out the situational city, the surprises, the collages—places that reveal collisions between the ancient and contemporary city. My research in Rome will help lead to greater insight into my work at HGA. As we work on projects that have a broad urban impact, we constantly think about the future of our cities. Rome has a lot of lessons to teach through more than 2,000 years of history.”

Altheimer is Practice Leader of the Landscape Architecture Studio at HGA. His Twin Cities landscape projects include the American Swedish Institute addition, the Minnesota Military Families Tribute in development on the Minnesota Capitol grounds, Macalester College Fine and Performing Arts Center, the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Campus, and the award-winning Hennepin Energy Recovery Center master plan.

Altheimer additionally serves as adjunct faculty for the University of Minnesota's College of Design, where he teaches urban infrastructure and the future of cities.

Altheimer has a Masters of Architecture and a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received the University of Virginia Sarah McArthur Nix Fellowship for independent study in Paris, France where he spent a summer studying subterranean Paris through the lens of public space and infrastructure.

The Rome Prize is sponsored by the American Academy in Rome to foster research in fine arts and humanities. The annual prize is awarded to 30 emerging American artists and scholars. Altheimer is the third Minnesota Landscape Architect to receive the prize in its 100 year history.