The Deborah J. Norden Fund 2006

Thomas Ryan: “Horizontal light: Lewerentz, Aalto, and the Nordic Landscape”

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

“Horizontal light: Lewerentz, Aalto, and the Nordic Landscape”

In 2006, the Architectural League awarded one grant to Thomas Ryan, who traveled to Scandinavia to study the works of Alvar Aalto and Sigurd Lewerentz.

In New York, wrapped in an environment where technology demanded projects to be designed and executed at a frenetic pace, the discipline of architecture seemed to be growing detached from its fundamentals, lost in the chase of new forms and materials. In reaction to this, Ryan turned to Aalto and Lewerentz, whose practice was grounded in strategy rather than style. By directly engaging with the enigmatic character and rigorous invention in these Nordic masters’ work, he came to know two approaches to the built environment that were revelatory both for their time and our own.

Thomas Ryan is a senior architectural designer and project manager at Christoff Finio Architecture, having completed projects for the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Brooklyn Historical Society, along with a number of residential projects in New York. He previously worked as a designer at Richard Meier & Partners in New York.

Ryan holds a BA in visual arts and an MArch from the College of Design at North Carolina State University. While at NC State he was the co-editor of The Student Publication, and received the Faculty Design Prize and the Kamphoefner Fellowship upon graduation. He has studied in Ticino, Switzerland, and at the Architectural Association in London, and has been an invited juror at NYIT, NC State, and Yale University.

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About the Deborah J. Norden Fund

The Deborah J. Norden Fund

An annual competition that awards travel grants to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies

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