Carnegie Mellon University

School of Architecture

Studies of Stone

Gindroz Travel Prize Inspires in the United Kingdom

 written by
Meredith Marsh

School of Architecture student Graham Murtha traveled to Ireland, Scotland and England this past summer as the recipient of a competitive travel scholarship, the Gindroz Prize for Summer Travel and Study in Europe. He has returned to Pittsburgh with notebooks full of stunning hand drawings he created exploring stone architecture throughout the British Isles.

Murtha and Gindroz, at a table, looking through sketchbook.

The Gindroz Prize was established by CMU alumni Ray and Marilyn Gindroz to enrich lives and enhance education through travel and the study of traditional architecture, urbanism and music in Europe. It recognizes the life-changing potential of becoming immersed in a culture, language and environment that is different from one’s own. The prize emphasizes both intellectual and craft development. Ray, who earned degrees in architecture in 1963 and 1965, and Marilyn, who graduated with a degree in music in 1973, first met in Rome while studying abroad.

"Both of our lives were changed in dramatic and positive ways through travel," Ray said.

Over a period of six weeks, Murtha used the travel funds to study stone buildings throughout Ireland, including Dublin and Belfast; Scotland, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Scottish Highlands; and southern England, including Bath and Glastonbury. Through the medium of perspective pen and ink drawings and loose watercolors, he documented in detail how this architecture has been both reused by people and reclaimed by nature. He also conducted numerous landscape studies in watercolor to identify key aspects of the landscape that support the preservation of these buildings.

Barbican Gate sketch by Graham Murtha.

“Whereas most contemporary architecture relies heavily on imported materials, my travels took me to see architecture that makes use of the natural materials provided by the surrounding landscape,” Murtha said. “This region’s re-use of ancient buildings and materials is enthralling. The buildings grow and adapt with the people to accommodate their changing needs. The beauty and purpose of this honest reuse fascinates me."

"These experiences have helped train me to design future buildings better integrated with their landscape and local context."

 Graham Murtha

The Gindroz Prize awards up to $10,000 annually to both a School of Architecture student and a School of Music student. BXA Architecture students also are also eligible to apply. Applicants must submit proposals that combine European travel and independent study to support their interests and future goals.

featuring the following:

watercolor of Eilean Donan, an 800 year old castle and one of Scotland's most iconic images, by Graham Murtha

image by Melinda Johnson

ink drawing of Trim Castle's Barbican Gate, a fortress built for war that has not decayed naturally and shows signs of abuse from enemies over the years, by Graham Murtha