Catherine W. Bishir Prize

The winners of the 2017 Catherine W. Bishir Prize are Sarah L. Lopez, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin and Margaret M. Grubiak, Associate Professor of Architectural History at Villanova University, Pennsylvania.


Margaret Grubiak’s article "An Architecture for the Electronic Church: Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” was published in the April 2016 issue of Technology and Culture. Her nominator, editor Suzanne Moon wrote, “The combination of attention to physical infrastructure and to media is what makes this piece stand out for me.” Committee member Gabrielle Berlinger added that Grubiak’s article “raises the bar of research in our field by addressing an underrepresented intersection of media technology, religion, and architecture. She employs a combination of research methodologies that continues to extend the field beyond material study to archival research and theories of social space as they communicate how we build and shape our physical environments.”


Sarah Lopez’s book chapter “Putting Vista Hermosa ‘On the Map’: Migrant Boosterism in Distant Homelands,” appears in a 2016 volume titled Ethno-Architecture and the Politics of Migration, edited by Mirjana Lozanovska. In his nomination letter Paul Groth explained that Lopez links vernacular architecture investment in a small town in the south of Jalisco, Mexico, with migrant aspirations to reposition the town within a transnational global economy.”  According to committee member Gabrielle Berlinger, Lopez’s " combination of qualitative methods and social theories of place to examine the creation and re-creation of cultural spaces in the context of socio-political realities, such as immigration and market economics, pushes the field forward in its study of cultural landscapes. 

The Bishir Prize, named for longtime member and influential scholar Catherine W. Bishir, is awarded annually to the scholarly article from a juried North American publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. In judging the nominated articles, the jurors look for an article that is based on primary research, that breaks new ground in interpretation or methodology, and that contributes generally to the intellectual vitality of vernacular studies. Entries may come from any discipline concerned with vernacular architecture studies. Articles published in the two years prior to the VAF annual conference are eligible for consideration. Please note that essays published as chapters in a book are also eligible if the volume is peer-reviewed, published within the time parameters specified, and the research presented in the essay is new. Anthologized collections are not eligible. The Bishir Prize was awarded for the first time in 2012.

The deadline for nominations will be announced in the fall.

To nominate an article please submit the following:

  • MS Word document providing contact information, publication data (name of book publishing company or title of journal, and date of publication), and a brief statement contextualizing the author(s) and article.
  • PDF copy of the article.

Nomination materials should be submitted to Bishir Prize.

2017 Bishir Prize Committee
Arijit Sen, chair
Andrew Dolkart
Gabrielle Berlinger
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