In 2007 Cotton recieved a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which allowed her to explore a long standing, personal inquiry about the social role of architecture. Over one year she visited many post-industrial cities, investigating the processes of appropriation and adaption of abandoned industrial buildings.
Each site was unique in its architecture, the host of actors who influenced transformations, the reuse plans, and due to the surrounding political and economic climate. A sketchbook and camera became permanent apendages, through which I tried to capture certain details, impressions, and ideas about what made each site exemplary. I sought to depict the illusive yet omnipresent element of change, which characterizes any industrial reuse project, by merging formal inquiry with the mindscape. When you approach a massive and impressive factory that has lost its function and meaning in the postindustrial age, it becomes clear that the role of imagination and vision are paramount to the revitalization of these extraordinary space