Architecture Professor Receives Outstanding Peer-Reviewed Research Award

Jeff Balmer
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Jeff Balmer’s paper was selected by the ACSA College of Distinguished Professors.

Associate Professor of Architecture Jeff Balmer has received the 2021 Outstanding Peer-Reviewed Research Award for “Best Paper” from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). Founded in 1912, ACSA is an international association of architecture schools that includes all accredited professional degree programs in the United States and Canada, in addition to international programs. The awards program, which was initiated by the ACSA College of Distinguished Professors, promotes research, scholarship, and creative excellence by recognizing one Best Paper and one Best Project each year.

Balmer received the recognition for his paper, “Marble & Lead: Aldo Moro, Luigi Moretti, and the Bunker Courtroom of the Foro Mussolini,” which he presented at the ACSA’s 109th Annual Meeting.

Casa delle armiRelying on extensive archival research, Balmer’s paper describes the modifications made in the early 1980s to Luigi Moretti’s 1933 masterwork, Casa delle Armi, for its use as a maximum-security courthouse. It was in this building that the trial for the murder of the Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro took place. Balmer places the architectural transformation of the building within the historical context of Italy’s years of Fascism in the 1930s through the country’s tumultuous “Years of Lead” in the 1960s-80s, advocating for its restoration and preservation as an extraordinary work of 20th-century architecture and an iconic site in the social and political history of Italy.

“Marble & Lead: Aldo Moro, Luigi Moretti, and the Bunker Courtroom of the Foro Mussolini” blends two of Balmer’s key interests: the city of Rome and preserving 20th-century architecture. Balmer is the founder of the School of Architecture’s Rome Semester Program, having established a similar program previously at Iowa State University. He is also a frequent public advocate for the preservation of historic structures in his native Toronto. In 2013, his efforts resulted in the preservation of the historic Sam the Record Man sign from a demolished record shop; in 2017 he launched an effort to save the McLaughlin Planetarium at the University of Toronto; in 2019 he initiated an effort in Toronto to preserve Ontario Place, a waterfront park designed in the early 1970s by Bauhaus-trained architect Eberhard Zeidler.