Norden Fund 2017 Information Session


Deserted Borderlands | Site of future Integrated Fixed Tower along Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Tohono O’odham Nation, 2016 | Photo by Nina Kolowratnik.

The Deborah J. Norden Fund 2017 Information Session
Caitlin Blanchfield, 2016 grantee
Rosalie Genevro, The Architectural League

The Architectural League of New York invites you to an information session on the Deborah J. Norden Fund, an annual program of the League’s that supports independent travel and research for students and recent graduates in architecture, architectural history, and urban studies. Past grantee Caitlin Blanchfield will discuss her project undertaken with collaborator Nina Kolowratnik, followed by a Q&A about the grant process with League staff.

Caitlin Blanchfield is a doctoral candidate in architectural history at Columbia University and a contributing editor to the The Avery Review

Blanchfield and Kolowratnik’s “Deserted Borderlands” seeks to provide new readings of access and border permeability in and around the Tohono O’odham reservation and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and their adjacent territories in Sonora, Mexico. According to the grantees, in the eyes of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the Sonoran desert is dry and inhospitable—a natural barrier too harsh for many migrants to travel. Biologists at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, however, find the desert a rich habitat requiring ecological preservation, one traditionally traversed by indigenous communities. In this terrain, how does indigenous knowledge, and traditional usage of land allow for easier and in part legalized circulation across a highly policed national boundary? Do the unique conditions of a national park undermine the nation state boundary?

The project also looks at how federal administration of these borderlands infringes on the rights of indigenous people. CBP is currently planning to build sixteen “Fixed Integrated Towers” along the US-Mexico border on Tohono O’odham land, extending from its juncture with the Organ Pipe Cactus Park into the interior of the nation. Several of the proposed towers are located on sacred sites and lands used for tribal ceremonies. In March 2016, an Environmental Assessment Draft was published by CBP stating that the Integrated Fixed Tower project will have no considerable impacts on the ecosystem or the tribe. Blanchfield and Kolowratnik are working with tribal members and activists on maps and an alternative impact statement that reflects the tribe’s understanding of and relation to the landscape, depicting the destruction the towers would inflict on tribal cultural and spiritual life.

The Deborah J. Norden Fund was established in 1995 in memory of architect and arts administrator Deborah Norden. The prize awards up to $5,000 annually in travel and study grants to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

The application deadline is Sunday, April 23, 2017, 11:59 P.M. EDT.

Additional Information
For the 2017 call for proposals and competition details, click here.

For a complete list of past winners and funded projects, click here.

For more competition history and features highlighting the work of past Norden grantees through their essays, photographs, and sketches from around the world, click here.

Travel Reports from The Deborah J. Norden Fund, a publication documenting the first ten years of Norden Fund grants, was published in January 2007. To order a copy of the publication, or to ask questions about application submission, call 212.753.1722 ext. 10, or email

Time & Place
Monday, April 3, 2017
7:00 p.m.
The Architectural League of New York
594 Broadway, Suite 607
New York, NY 10012
Free and open to all. Reservations required. Limited space available. REGISTER HERE via Eventbrite.