James Leng is the recipient of the prestigious 2013 SOM Prize, a $50,000 Travel and Research Fellowship. Mr. Leng received his Master of Architecture degree in March 2013 from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he was also awarded the highly competitive GSD Thesis Prize. Growing up in Castro Valley, CA, James attended UC Berkeley where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree in 2007.
In the interval between graduation from Berkeley and commencement of his study at the GSD, James gained professional experience in the Netherlands, working initially for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and later, with UN Studio. James professional experience was further enhanced in 2011 when he received a GSD Half-year Fellowship to work in the Paris office of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
James plans to utilize his SOM Foundation Fellowship to travel to regions on four (4) continents, carrying out his winning research proposal on the topic, “Useless Architectures: A Search for New Meanings After Obsolescence.” As James explains, “The notion of the obsolete is a familiar theme in architecture… However, the circumstances surrounding a building’s fall into disuse vary broadly from cultural shifts, disruptive technological innovation to even catastrophic disaster. As the rate of technological innovation and progress increases, it becomes critical to ask what becomes of architecture after usefulness?”
Since graduation from GSD, James has relocated to Los Angeles, where he is currently employed in the office of Michael Maltzan Architecture.