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June 01, 2021

Architecture Student Named Honors Thesis Prize Award Recipient

Vasundhra Aggarwal ’21 (B.Arch.), a fifth-year student in the School of Architecture, was announced as a Class of 2021 Honors Thesis Prize recipient during the virtual presentation of the Renée Crown University Honors Program Convocation on Friday, May 21.

Vasundhra AggarwalVasundhra AggarwalAs the most challenging required component of the honors curriculum, thesis projects are the culmination of three to four semesters of independent research and professional and creative work by students from across the schools and colleges of the University. Working with a faculty advisor, students design, research and complete a significant project in their major field of study.

The entire thesis requires the development of “next level” professional and academic skills and must be a particularly high-quality piece of scholarly work, worthy of honors in the scope of its conception and execution.

Every year, thesis advisors select honors thesis projects that they deem “prize-worthy” and committees made up of honors core faculty members meet to determine prize recipients in five categories—the humanities, the creative, the social sciences, the natural sciences and engineering, and the professional.

After evaluating each project nomination, subcommittee members awarded Aggarwal with the Best Thesis Prize in the creative category for her project, “Latent Territories: A Manifesto for Design Thinking.”

Executed under the direction of honors faculty advisor, School of Architecture Assistant Professor Britt Eversole, and in collaboration with her thesis partner, Jaclyn Doyle ’21 (B.Arch.), Aggarwal’s project insists that despite the appearance of living in a world of control, precision and total informational awareness, we are instead surrounded by a world of errors, mistranslations, digital hiccups and physical imperfections, all of which deserve to be evaluated as having positive cultural meaning and value, rather than simply erased as mistakes or optimized out of existence.

Using processes of LiDAR-scanning and 3D-prototyping, and HEX-editing and animating, “Latent Territories” creates a series of material studies exhibited both physically and virtually through a web-based interface. The results of the experiments showcase how information behaves as an evolutionary feedback process and suggest the possibility for design to do the same.

By reimagining the architectural operations manifesto, Aggarwal’s thesis proposes “Latent Territories” as the nascent sites of architectural innovation with machinic misbehaviors, delirious inefficiencies and spectacular blunders.

“The project is thoroughly original and fantastically creative,” says Eversole. “It is also a timely and urgent thesis, one that takes stock of the impact of technology on design practices while charting new aesthetic and intellectual ground.”

“The honors program has always been a space for me to meet and learn from diverse students and faculty in seemingly unrelated classes and incorporating architectural modes of thinking in all of them,” says Aggarwal. “Being awarded this prize reinforces all the exciting ways that architecture intersects with other disciplines, research and behaviors, which speaks to the nature of our thesis. I am so honored that my work with Jackie was selected, and grateful for all the support from our incredible team of advisors.”

Visit honors.syr.edu/showcase to browse all the Class of 2021 Honors thesis student project profiles.