Max Page, professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and director of the Historic Preservation program, is one of three scholars nationally named to receive the Rome Prize for Historic Preservation and Conservation, awarded annually by the American Academy in Rome to honor “the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities.”
The prize includes a fellowship that provides a stipend, studio or study, room and board in Rome for up to two years—and the opportunity for recipients to expand their own professional, artistic or scholarly pursuits. Each year, the 120-year-old American Academy in Rome awards about 30 prizes to scholars in field that range from visual arts, design, musical composition and literature to medieval studies, renaissance studies, historic preservation and architecture. “The wonderful thing is being able to sit down to meals with 30 other fellows, from musicians to painters to landscape architects and historians, many of whom are looking at the same things from different perspectives,” said Page, who will spend the spring 2014 semester in Italy as part of the program. “There promises to be lot of cross-fertilization.” Past recipients include architects Robert Venturi and Louis Kahn, composers Aaron Copland and Laurie Anderson and writers Ralph Ellison and William Styron. This year’s prize winners were chosen by 44 jurors who made up nine individual peer panels. Page is the graduate program director of historic preservation in the architecture + design program at UMass Amherst, where he teaches a course in the history and theory of historic preservation. He is the author of The Creative Destruction of Manhattan 1900-1940 and The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction, as well as the co-editor of Giving Preserving a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003. Page’s submission was a portion of a book-length work-in-progress titled “Usable Pasts: The Legacy of Mussolini and the Lessons of Scarpa.” Preservation was at the heart of work of Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, who died in 1978, says Page. Scarpa was noted, he adds, for “respectful designs, but such that each can stand on its own.” In contrast, Page notes that Italians continue to grapple with the meaning of fascist architecture spawned under Mussolini and if, in fact, it should be preserved. With an 11-acre campus on the highest point within the walls of Rome, the American Academy in Rome was founded in 1894, originally as the first graduate school of architecture for the United States, and emerged as a hybrid center for the arts and humanities in the early 20th century. It is a not-for-profit, private entity.