UMA Announces the Recipient of the 2015-16 AIA Maine Centenary Scholarship

From left to right: Professor Eric Stark, Lydia Mather and her parents Bobbi and Al Mather. (photo courtesy of UMA)

From left to right: Professor Eric Stark, Lydia Mather and her parents Bobbi and Al Mather. (photo courtesy of UMA)

Congratulations are in order to the recipient of the 2015-16 AIA Maine Centenary Scholarship, Lydia Mather.

The AIA Maine Centenary Scholarship was created in 2013 in support the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bachelor of Architecture program. This year, the endowed scholarship award totaled $1800. The scholarship is open to any UMA B.Arch student from Maine, holding a minimum GPA of 3.0. Lydia is a fourth-year Bachelor of Architecture student currently holding a 3.8 GPA who has proven herself both as a designer and a leader. The award was presented at this year’s UMA Student Architecture Show, at which Lydia was also earned recognition for having the strongest fourth-year design work.

Each year UMA faculty hold an essay contest to determine who will win this prestigious award. This year’s topic was, “What do I see as architecture’s central role to affect change in my world?” Each student was limited to approximately 300 words in response. Ms. Mather’s response is shared in its entirety below.

I don’t know that architecture itself can create change in my world. If architecture is an extension of myself, and my beliefs on aesthetic beauty, then I am the one that can cause change in my world. Architecture’s role is to be my medium with which I try and influence that change. 

The canvas that I use to express my worldview is our built environment. The shelter has evolved into a three dimensional statement of ideas. Architecture has been long used as propaganda for religion, power, political campaigns, and artistic movements. To say that architecture is simply a source of media would be false, it is so much more, it is a statement of our culture that we may occupy and remold.

It is the temporal nature of architecture that makes it so useful in influencing change. While it can be disheartening to see a building come down, sometimes-old ideas have to be put aside in order to embrace the new. We as a culture, and as individuals, are constantly changing. Our opinions of our world and its social order have evolved significantly, and with them our expression of those ideals have changed the built environment around us. A hundred years from now our current ideas will no longer be relevant and a new architectural expression will have been created.

That is architecture’s power, it is a medium that some use to promote change and evolution in our world. It has the ability to be seen by thousands of people and have an effect on their lives and ideas. It has the ability to change us, and change with us.

I hope to step into this environment to put forward my values, my understanding of space and beauty and order, with the hope that my views will have a voice. It’s not that I hope people will remember me specifically, but I hope that the architecture I create will inspire others to continue on and create something new. 

Ms. Mather’s thoughtful response, along with her growth and commitment to the architectural profession, make her a wonderful selection. On behalf of AIA Maine, and the UMA Architecture Program we wish Ms. Mather much future success.

Jeannette Schram