Travelling Scholarship Travelling Studio
Image by Stephanie Rae Lloyd 2023 Rotch Scholar

Image by Stephanie Rae Lloyd
2023 Rotch Scholar

How does this work?

The Rotch Travelling Scholarship is an annual two-stage design competition that results in one person, deemed the Rotch Scholar, traveling the world for six months studying architecture — and we pick up the tab. In the first stage of the selection process, a 72-hour, weekend-long preliminary design competition is held (running from Friday Noon until Monday Noon). Finalists from this competition go on to compete in the second stage, a 10-day competition culminating in a design presentation to a distinguished jury.

2024 Theme

The Rotch Committee is pleased to offer a glimpse of the preliminary and final program briefs for 2023-2024 (subject to change):

Pardon Our Appearance
Maintenance work is all around us, yet almost always hidden from public view. It takes place during the peripheral hours of the day and at the margins of our spatial imaginaries, in stark contrast to established narratives of progress and innovation that lie at the very core of the architectural profession. This year’s Rotch Travelling Scholarship invites participants to explore the underlying regimes of maintenance and care that shape the built environment: from domestic rituals of cleaning and repair, to the stewardship of existing building stock and material resources, to the collective upkeep of our public spaces and infrastructural systems. By re-positioning the architect as a caretaker of the people, places, and resources around them, the competition invites proposals that shift our understanding of maintenance from a remedial act to a critical framework for exploring alternative value systems, spatial practices, and material ethics.

For more information, contact bsa@architects.org.

What are you looking for?

Juries seek “evidence of imaginative capacity.” Specifically, we look for:

  • Strong organizing conceptual principle or thesis
  • Quality of poetic and philosophical rationale
  • Inventiveness
  • Effective development of structure, circulation and materials
  • Thoughtful consideration of site and context
  • Representation of a complete architectural project, both physically and conceptually
  • Quality, completion, clarity and effectiveness of presentation

Who is this for?

  • Emerging professionals who want to learn and advance their architecture work through a funded scholarship, while documenting global travels
  • Candidates must be U.S. citizens who have obtained a professional degree (BArch/MArch) from an accredited school in the last 10 years.
  • One year of full-time professional experience in a Massachusetts architecture firm as of January 1 of the competition year — or — an accredited degree from an accredited Massachusetts school of architecture as of January 1 of the competition year

How much do I receive to travel?

The Rotch Scholar receives $40,000 or more to travel and study abroad for a minimum of six months. This sum, distributed in four payments, covers expenses incurred by the Rotch Scholar for the stated period of travel abroad. See below for payment distribution details.

What is my obligation if I win?

The Rotch Scholar must travel for a minimum of six months, beginning within the calendar year of award receipt. The Rotch Committee and the Rotch Board of Trustees will allow for some flexibility for personal/professional commitments and will assess health and safety concerns related to travel at the time.

The study topic and itinerary are at the winner’s discretion (subject to Rotch Committee approval).

The winner is required to maintain and regularly update a digital record of travels (in images, drawings and text), that will be linked on the Rotch Travelling Scholarship website, rotch.org. This digital record could take any of the following formats: an Instagram handle, a Twitter feed, or a website/blog. Please provide information with your selected handle or website link.

A final report should include both images and brief text and be formatted in both hard copy and digital formats to be archived in the MIT Rotch Library with the other Rotch Travelling Scholarship reports. This record is also used by the Scholar Mentor on the Rotch Committee and the Rotch secretary to approve payment distribution.

Four payments are made to the winner of roughly half, two-quarters and a small final payment, which is withheld until the Rotch Scholar delivers a compilation of his or her travel research to the Rotch Trustees. The compilation must be a bound report and available to be printed on-demand (lulu.com is a suggested publisher). All reports are kept on permanent file.

Competition calendar

Jan 19, 2024: Applications due
Jan 23, 2024: Qualified applicants notified
Feb 23, 2024: Start of preliminary competition 12:00 PM EST
Feb 26, 2024: End of preliminary competition 12:00 PM EST
March 1, 2024: Finalists notified
March 22, 2024: Start of final competition
April 1, 2024: End of final competition
April 5, 2024: Jury for final competition