Bradley Cantrell Frames Methodologies Developed in Rural Louisiana for Urban Contexts

April 10, 2014
Bradley Cantrell developing a prototype to visualize water distribution within Rome.
Underpass within Rome, intersection of infrastructure, river, and recreation.
The Aniene river on the periphery of Rome.
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Bradley E. Cantrell is the winner of the Garden Club of America Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture and the Director and Associate Professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University.

What part of the United States did you come from?

I am currently located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am an Associate Professor and the Director of the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture.

Why did you apply for the Rome Prize?

The Rome Prize provided a unique opportunity to expand my research and work from the ecologically rich context of Southern Louisiana to the culturally rich palimpsest of Central Italy. Having the time to concentrate on the translation of my work is an important step in framing many of the methodologies we have been developing in rural Louisiana for urban contexts.

Describe a particularly inspiring moment or location you've experienced in Rome thus far.

There have been many inspiring moments from the walks that are put together for us each week to random walks through the city. One of my favorite has been a trip with my current landscape architecture fellow, Elizabeth Fain LaBombard, when we traced the Aniene River from the periphery of Rome to the confluence of the Tiber River. As a transect it was an amazing cross section of Roman development from the suburbs into an area close to Villa Ada north of the city center.

To what extent, if any, has your proposed project changed since your arrival?

I am currently writing a book manuscript entitled Responsive Landscapes, with my colleague, Justine Holzman, which has allowed me to integrate my original proposal into a larger manuscript. I have been developing my research that has been focused on the Tiber River into a series of vignettes that deconstruct the system through animation or visualization that is driven by real time data feeds. This work has provided a series of prototypes as we are developing the illustrations and framework for the book’s case studies.

What aspect of your project are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to getting into the making of visualizations of the research I have been gathering.

How have you managed the balance between your work (time in the studio/study) and engagement with Rome and Italy (travel, sightseeing, interactions with locals)?

I have remained pretty steadfast to my work although I have tried to take advantage of interactions with the fellows as much as possible. My travel and sightseeing is reserved for the summer when my family will join me.

How do you anticipate your Rome Prize Fellowship will influence future work?

The time spent at the Academy will be influential, the gift of time to concentrate on a body of work, the vast resources, and the family of fellows, fellow travelers, and visiting scholars will undoubtedly be a part of me for the rest of my life. I have already had conversations that have pushed my work forward and the context has provided a clear lens through which I can understand a range of new possibilities.

What is your favorite spot at the Academy? or in Rome?

The garden is one of my favorite spots, particularly during the lovely Roman Spring. My studio space is a close second although I find myself spending much more time in my studio than in the garden.