Paul E. Buchanan Award

Recognizing “fieldwork” takes increasingly different forms and vernacular architecture knowledge is disseminated through multiple means in order to reach ever wider audiences, the Buchanan Award Committee in 2018 to give out two awards.  

Megan Springate et al. -  LGBTQ America Theme Study

Springate and her colleagues delivered a monumental, groundbreaking, nationwide theme study of the cultural landscapes of LGBTQ communities. The US National Parks Service project and on-line publication defines and documents in-depth the historical, ideological, cultural, social, and geographical contexts necessary to fully comprehend sites of gendered “otherness”. The wide variety of high quality background, thematic and place-based essays acknowledges regional and metropolitan differences. No "single story" prevails. Indeed, the project mobilized academics and community members to guarantee inclusivity in this collaborative social justice effort and it has already triggered national register nominations and more detailed regional studies, like the New York City’s LGBTQ Historic Sites website initiative, which was another very worthy candidate for the award this year. Exceedingly valuable to historians, academics, preservationists and broader audiences in their efforts to interpret, teach and preserve sites of underrepresented groups, the Theme Study connects people and events to places associated with an important segment of the American population, namely persons who identify as LGBTQ.

Rachel Galan and Anthony Souther – Caddo Grass House Reconstruction

Rachel Galan and Anthony Souther and their team coordinated the reconstruction of a Caddo Grass House by members of that nation and volunteers in a key effort to study indigenous building traditions at the Alto, Texas, State Historic Site. But their project encompassed more than adding an important material and social artefact to display and interpret for visitors wanting to understand the people and society behind the construction of the earth mounds, which are the principal physical exhibition at the site. Like the ritual rebuilding of the Ise shrine in Japan, the modern reconstruction of the grass house also provided a unique opportunity to perpetuate traditional Caddo construction knowledge and to transmit artisan skills to upcoming generations. The process was captured from start to finish. The videos, photographs and written documentation are now used in educational guides and interpretation programs and provide useful comparison with past building techniques and the archeological record. As a community space for the Caddo, the house connects stories to site specific experiences, and importantly reminds us that indigenous cultures are dynamic. 

We applaud both these winners for their excellent research and dedication to collaboration and inclusion.

Paul Buchanan

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Paul Buchanan Investigating Plasterwork


2018 Call for Nominations

The Vernacular Architecture Forum seeks nominations for the Paul E. Buchanan Award.

The award was instituted by VAF in 1993 to recognize contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape that do not take the form of books or published work.  Hundreds of studies, reports, documentation projects, restoration projects, conservation plans, National Register nominations, exhibits, video/digital media productions and public programs are completed each year without the benefit of distribution or recognition beyond the limited audience for which they were commissioned.  Nonetheless, many of these efforts can serve to inform and inspire us all.  The award is named for Paul E. Buchanan who served for over thirty years as the Director of Architectural Research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Buchanan set the standard for architectural fieldwork in America and inspired many VAF members in the rewards of fieldwork. This award honors the valuable work of documenting and understanding built environments that most of our members and professional associates perform.


Exceptional projects that set new standards or model innovative practices, completed in the last two years are eligible for consideration and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Architectural Recording Projects (including HABS/HAER/HALS)
  • Historic Structures Reports
  • Cultural Resource Surveys
  • Historic Designation Studies (including United States National Register, Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP), United States National Historic Landmark and National Historic Site of Canada)
  • Preservation or Conservation Plans
  • Restoration or Rehabilitation Projects that express the significance of the resource or illustrate novel ways the resource has been preserved
  • Furnishing Plans and Installations
  • Exhibits and Other Temporary Installations
  • Permanent Museum Exhibits
  • Visual Arts Presentations (e.g. drawing, painting, photography, 3-D media)
  • Film and Video Presentations
  • Computer Applications and Modeling
  • Educational and Interpretive Programs
  • Symposia, Conferences, and Public Events

Nomination materials should include:
  • Cover letter that explains the merits of the project and outlining the ways the project sets new standards or models innovative practices or otherwise contributes to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture or cultural landscapes.
  • Project documentation, e.g. copy of the report, audio-visual presentation, exhibition boards, etc. in a format that can be downloaded to the VAF Buchanan committee.

Please submit nomination materials electronically in a single zip file to Should the file size exceed 50MB, please communicate with us at the same address. Likewise, if you must send a paper or hard copy of your documentation, please email us so that we may make alternate arrangements.

The application deadline for the 2019 Buchanan Award will be announced soon

Past Buchanan Award Winners

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