A post-oil future: Susanna Davy named 2020 Cavin Family Travel Fellow

Susanna Davy, winner of the 2020 Cavin Family Traveling Fellowship (Image courtesy of Susanna Davy)
Susanna Davy, winner of the 2020 Cavin Family Traveling Fellowship (Image courtesy of Susanna Davy)

Susanna Davy, a Bay Area-based artist and technical designer at Gensler's Oakland office, has been named the winner of the 2020 Cavin Family Traveling Fellowship.

This endowed fellowship annually awards a stipend to a promising architecture graduate or a young practitioner (age 35 and under) who has graduated from Cal Poly Pomona or the University of Oregon to fund 10 weeks of travel and research. The program is administered by Cal Poly Pomona through Assistant Professor Robert Alexander, the 2008 Cavin Fellow and  an alumnus ('01) of Cal Poly Pomona's architecture program. Davy is an alumna ('17) of the University of Oregon's graduate architecture program, and holds dual bachelor's degrees in art and creative writing ('08) from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This year’s competition proceeded after the state’s stay-at-home order, but the in-person presentations and awards dinner were cancelled. Davy’s prize is the largest amount awarded to date – $15,000, up from $10,000 of previous years. Travel will occur based on public health guidance.

The 2020 jury was comprised of Julie Smith-Clementi (jury chair) of Smith-Clementi; Assistant Professor Victor Jones (Cal Poly Pomona); Associate Professor Mark Donofrio (University of Oregon); Jeffrey Murdock of Historic Seattle; and Mat Albores of Miller Hull Partnership.

The Cavin design brief pitched the following challenge: imagine a “post-oil” future and plan for the reuse of a significant piece of southern California’s coastal and regional history. Candidates were asked to propose a new public program for one of four of the THUMS Islands – a cluster of four man-made islands off the Long Beach coast that mine the East Wilmington Oil Field.

Davy’s winning design reimagined Island Grissom as an environmentally sustainable structure capable of “reversing the carbon cycle” through urban farming.

“The jury was very impressed with the amount of work all the applicants completed in just five days,” said Smith-Clementi. “The quality of the projects by the four finalists was outstanding. Susanna’s project excelled because her design was clearly expressed, bold and optimistic, and had an interesting scenographic quality that engaged the community of Long Beach. She addressed the sustainability goals with a systematic approach and her presentation to us was confident and articulate."