Opportunities to study and travel are widely available to architecture students and recent graduates through colleges, universities and foundations – but once employed, the chance to pursue such endeavors becomes far scarcer. Recently, leading architecture firms like New York City based Murphy Burnham & Buttrick (MBB) Architects have committed to the value that international travel experience brings to employees – and to company culture as a whole. MBB and other select firms have instituted their own private travel grants and stipends to promote continued learning and cross-cultural exchange.
MBB’s Harold Buttrick Travel Grant, named after one of the firm’s founding partners and established in 2016, is an annual grant offering one MBB employee five days of paid leave and paid travel-related expenses for the purpose of “broadening his or her understanding of architecture through a research project.” The only requirements are that the candidate must have been with the firm for at least one year and must have graduated from their last degree program within the past decade.
“Offering this grant helps MBB expand our perspective and professionalism in ways that can only be achieved through experiencing architecture as it’s practiced in worlds other than our own. The research is brought back to the firm and shared within the office,” says MBB partner Mary Burnham, FAIA. Another of the partners, Jeffrey Murphy, FAIA, LEED AP, is a graduate of Harvard Design School and himself a recipient of the prestigious Aga Khan Research Fellowship for the study of Islamic architecture as well as the post-graduate Wheelwright Prize, dedicated to advancing original architectural research through cross-cultural engagement.
“Sponsoring travel purely for the sake of enriching one’s knowledge of the built environment is an incredibly worthy endeavor,” says Murphy. “We’ve chosen to invest seriously in supporting this type of experience for our team members.”
Past recipients of recipients of MBB’s Harold Buttrick Travel Grant include Claire Ross in 2016, who traveled to Japan to explore the theme of “Embracing Impermanence,” Sanou Cisse, an associate, who studied wood timber construction in Norway in 2017, and Nyssa Sherazee who conducted research into the urbanization of South Korea in 2018. The latest winner is Kate Brown, an associate who travelled to Mexico to research architects’ efforts to recover from the earthquake in 2017.
MBB is a woman owned international architecture firm known for a strong, collaborative studio culture and expertise in educational projects and sustainable retrofits of historic structures. The firm has recently worked throughout the United States, Europe, South Asia, and Africa, and is committed to civic engagement and leadership at home in New York City as well as around the globe.
“MBB values diversity and collaboration in designing rich and nuanced architecture that resonates with our diverse world,” says Sara Grant, AIA, LEED AP, who was elevated to partner in 2015. “We believe that providing our employees the opportunity to get out and see the world through the lens of their work perfectly aligns with our mission.”