LSU School of Architecture Professor and Students Awarded First Place for Prestigious Peterson Prize

08/17/2012 01:53 PM

BATON ROUGE – LSU School of Architecture Associate Professor Ursula Emery McClure and several of her students were recently awarded the 2012 Charles E. Peterson Prize for completing drawings of the historic Fort Proctor ruin site in St. Bernard Parish.


Garnering a tie for first place in the competition for their entry, titled “Fort Proctor,” the School of Architecture will receive $2,750 as the result of its efforts.


McClure worked with a two small groups of dedicated students throughout the fall 2011 and spring 2012 semesters to complete the drawings. The two groups of students included fall 2011 students Taylor Alphonso, Ben Buehrle, Audrey Cropp and Claire Hu; and spring 2012 participants Cody Blanchard, Annette Couvillon, Lindsay Boley, Christopher Peoples, Sarah Kolac and Taylor Alphonso. The spring 2012 student group will travel to Washington, D.C., this fall with McClure to receive the prize.


A student competition of measured drawings, the Peterson Prize is presented jointly by the Historic American Buildings Survey, or HABS, of the National Park Service, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the American Institute of Architects. The annual competition, currently in its 29th year, honors the late Charles E. Peterson, founder of the HABS program, and is intended to heighten awareness about historic buildings in the U.S. and to augment the HABS collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress.


In addition to generating more than 5,300 sheets of drawings for the collection to date, the competition presents awards totaling $7,500 to the winning student teams. Drawings must be of a building that has not been recorded by HABS through measured drawings, or be an addendum to an existing set of HABS drawings that makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of the significance of the building.


In order to complete the work on Fort Proctor, McClure applied for and received a grant in 2011 from the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, through the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s Office of Cultural Development and Division of Historic Preservation Fund. In a separate but related project, she also worked with an interdisciplinary team on an investigation of the fort for the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio. She received more than $75,000 in grants to work on these projects with her students.


Located on the shore of Lake Borgne, Fort Proctor was built in the 1850s and intended to protect water routes towards New Orleans. The fort, however, became hurricane damaged and was deemed obsolete after post-Civil War improvements in artillery. The fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is now completely surrounded by water.


If the present predictions regarding coastal land loss and global climate change hold true, Fort Proctor is at risk of being further damaged or completely destroyed. This documentation creates a permanent archive of the structure and contributes to the legacy and record of Louisiana’s coastal built environment and the country’s system of coastal defense fortifications.


The School of Architecture has a long history of involvement with the Peterson Prize, winning eight prizes for submissions made between 1989 and 2002 through the efforts of retired Professor William Brockway.


“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our school, our university and our state,” said Jori Erdman, director of the School of Architecture. “It is also a great contribution to preserving the rich heritage of Louisiana. In times of tremendous budget cuts to higher education, this prize shows that our faculty and students continue to be dedicated to the mission of the university and the good of the state, and that they can compete on a national stage.”


For more information on the Peterson Prize, visit

Aaron  Looney 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Friday, August 17, 2012