Members Area

2022-23 GCA Rome Prize Fellow Studied Historic Aesthetics for the Deaf


August 23, 2023

Alexa Vaughn hopes that lessons from the past can shape modern methodology

Alexa Vaughn, the GCA’s 2022-2023 Rome Prize Fellow in Landscape Architecture, recently completed her year-long fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. While there, Vaughn examined—through the eyes of a Deaf American woman—the aesthetics of Deaf and disabled experiences of Rome from ancient to modern times with the purpose of shaping new methodology for accessibility and inclusion in the Eternal City. 
She also looked beyond basic accessibility guidelines (Americans with Disabilities Act), by treating lived experience as expertise. Through the lenses of Universal Design and DeafSpace principles (design that accounts for the visual and hearing abilities of the deaf person), Vaughn imagined new modes of historic preservation in Rome without sacrificing the essence of place. Through visual studies, mixed-media sketches, sensory mapping, and storytelling, Vaughn celebrates Deaf and disabled experiences in Rome to grow collective understandings.
In her film, Vaughn interviews Deaf Italians and asks about favorite parks, safety issues, and what “landscape” means to them.
The Rome Prize Fellowship in Landscape Architecture, which includes geography, environmental design and planning, landscape and ecological urbanism, landscape history, sustainability, and ecological studies, was established in 1928 with contributions from GCA clubs. The fellowship provides American landscape architects with a special opportunity for advanced study, travel, and association with other fellows in Rome. 
Vaughn will pursue a PhD in Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA this fall.


See All News