Carnegie Mellon University

Dan Burdzy

Dan Burdzy Awarded 2018 Highlands Travel Fellowship

Alumnus Dan Burdzy has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Delbert Highlands Travel Fellowship

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture is pleased to announce that Dan Burdzy (CFA 2013) has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Delbert Highlands Travel Fellowship for his proposal The Value of Junk: Adventure Playgrounds of London and Berlin. The Highlands Travel Fellowship selection committee looks forward to seeing the final results of the study.

The selection committee wishes to extend its thanks to all of those who submitted proposals for consideration in this year’s call. The Fellowship is offered on a biennial schedule. The School of Architecture will announce the call for applications for the next award cycle in Spring 2019, with the submission deadline in Fall 2019.

Project Proposal: The Value of Junk: Adventure Playgrounds of London and Berlin

Dan Burdzy’s proposed project for the 2018 Delbert Highlands Travel Fellowship, The Value of Junk: Adventure Playgrounds of London and Berlin, intends to study the development of the “junk” (later known as “adventure”) playground in Europe – the complete antithesis to the mundane slide-and-swing American playground. Adventure playgrounds are child-led, perpetually changing environments that lead children to embrace risk and develop social, imaginative, emotional, and cognitive development skills. With a focus on cities with immense infrastructure for play, Burdzy aims to study the formal and cultural variations of adventure playgrounds in contrast to American playgrounds, and analyze the social and physical environments that foster their existence. This proposal is equally about history, design, and implementation; beyond understanding the physical demands of creating play landscapes, it is imperative to understand the social constructs that led to their realization and how they relate to the cultural history of the word “play.”

The characteristics embodied in adventure playgrounds are already part of Burdzy’s own professional interests – they use re-purposed materials, challenge conventions about what is jurisdictionally acceptable, and are critical to the enhancement of human experience. A strong believer in the relationship between learning and play, Burdzy intends to use the experience provided by the Highlands Travel Fellowship to better understand these playgrounds and apply these concepts to his explorations in the educational design world. While his proposal is predicated on exploration, it is grounded in a desire to have a hand in implementing similar work in his own practice – and ultimately to play a role in revitalizing this movement and reinvigorating its values and ideals with educators and designers.

About the Delbert Highlands Travel Fellowship

The Delbert Highlands Travel Fellowship supports School of Architecture alumni in the study of collections belonging to locales to promote the professional development of awardees and contribute to the richness of our surroundings. The Fellowship is named in honor of Professor Delbert Highlands, who taught courses in architectural design, design theory, and architectural history from the 1960s through the first decade of this century. He has been widely recognized as a seminal teacher whose skill and understanding enriched the educations of generations of students.

Professor Highlands emphasized the “individual,” the “particular”, and the “local” in his teaching. His courses were grounded in authoritative scholarship and meticulously presented fundamentals, but always went further by asking students to think of “this time,” “this place”, and this “occupancy.” His teaching presented prospects for a life of work that were inspiring and that would always present fresh challenges to learn more, go deeper, and design buildings that truly engage our humanity. He has been a key influence in the lives of hundreds of graduates of the School of Architecture.