A School of Architecture professor and renowned Holocaust historian has won a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional Canadian researchers and their achievements.
Robert Jan van Pelt received the Connection Award along with $50,000 in research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The award honours outstanding scholars who embody the very best ideas and research about people, human thought and behaviour, and culture.
He was one of five winners of the 2019 SSHRC Impact Awards announced September 4. The annual prizes celebrate the achievements of Canada's top leaders, thinkers and researchers in the social sciences and humanities.
van Pelt, whose work focuses primarily on the architecture of the Holocaust, is one of the world's leading experts on Auschwitz.
Together with his architecture colleagues Anne Bordeleau and Donald McKay, and a team of Waterloo architecture students, van Pelt created The Evidence Room, a powerful installation that reconstructs key objects used in the forensic analysis of the architecture of Auschwitz. The objects were introduced as evidence in a court case to demonstrate that Auschwitz was purposely designed as a death camp.
van Pelt also is the chief curator of Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away., a comprehensive exhibit currently located in New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage. Dedicated to the history of Auschwitz and its role in the Holocaust, the display features more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs.