Remarks delivered by the Buchanan Award Committee chair, Nora Pat Small, at the at the annual meeting in Chicago, June 6, 2015.
The Paul E. Buchanan Award, established in 1993, recognizes contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape that do not take the form of books or published works. Paul Buchanan served as the Director of Architectural Research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for over thirty years and inspired generations of VAF members to discover the rewards of fieldwork.
The 2015 Paul E. Buchanan Award goes to curator and producer Stephen Fan for his exhibit “Sub Urbanisms: Casino Company Town/China Town”, at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum of New London, Connecticut. Fan’s field work and research revealed the extent to which immigrant Asian casino workers have been transforming the suburban neighborhood adjacent to the Mohegan Sun casino since 2001. The resulting exhibit, as he noted in his submission, “used history to bridge contemporary cultural divides and to question the future ecological, social, and economic sustainability of the ever-changing American suburban ideal.”
In confronting disputes about legitimacy, exploring cultural expectations for suburban living, and scrutinizing the role of government in enforcing traditional community norms, this project has met the high standards set by Paul Buchanan for recording and interpreting the vernacular landscape. In addition, the associated public forum, informal community events, publication, and closing reception brought together academics, politicians, immigrant workers, and other neighbors for spirited discussions about the community’s past and future, as well as about participants’ cultural values and assumptions. Ultimately, the exhibit provided the opportunity for all concerned to recognize the historical, economic, and political forces at work in shaping the past and the present landscape.