Re.engineer Magazine - Spring 2022

AGAINST THE GRAIN

I think HBCU’s play an important role in inspiring minority students in any career choice. I graduated from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA and before I started college there I had only met one African-American architect in my life. If there was an architect in attendance at my high school career days, he didn't look like me. During my time at Southern and even after I graduated I met so many architects who looked like me and who are successful in their own way. At Southern University I learned about the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). A part of NOMA’s mission is to foster communications and fellowship among minority architects. Organizations like NOMA help not only professionals but but also youths interested in architecture and college students majoring in architecture to become successful in the field. HOW C A N WE INSPIRE MORE MINORITY STUDENTS TO PURSUE C A REERS IN A RCHITECTURE ?

WH A T A DVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PROFESSION A LS OR ENTREPRENEURS ? The advice I would give a young professional or entrepreneur is to find a mentor. Mentors play a very important role in not only your career path but your life choices. I personally have more than one mentor. I have mentors who I go to for professional advice and I have mentors who I go to for advice about life choices. When I began my internship at Hewitt-Washington & Associates in New Orleans I got to know the VP of the company, James R. Washington Jr. I think he saw the potential in me before I did. One day I was in his office and had just finished doing some schematic drawings for a sport complex development in New Orleans East. About 15 minutes before the meeting, he called me to the conference room and said, "I have to leave so you are going to facilitate this meeting." I was confused because I had never facilitated a meeting own my own or without someone else in the room to support me. I felt even more pressure because the meeting was going to be with the developer and his team, along with some of the City of New Orleans officials. In that 15 minutes he broke down everyone’s role in the room and their interest in the project. The last thing he told me was also the most impactful. He conveyed that I had done the design so that I could explain what I did and why with confidence. I actually had an unexpected trip to New Orleans recently and while I was in town I decided to stop by their office just to say hello. I ended up sitting in the conference room with Mr. Washington, who is one of the firm's owners, for more than an hour talking about the impact they firm has made in lives of African-American architects around the country. We even talked about how I’ve modeled my office after their office by taking my team to jobsite and client meetings like they did with me.

WH A T KEEPS YOU UP A T NIGHT ? There are two things that keep me up at night: 1) trying to figure out what the next big design trend is going to be and 2) what piece of technology is going to become standard in different project types. On the commercial side, a few years ago articles began being published about “open office floor plans” becoming outdated and now since COVID, businesses have been realizing that they do not need all of the office space they thought they needed because of people working remotely. Now that more people are working from home, even if they are working from home part-time and the remaining time in the office, home offices or dedicated work spaces are becoming more popular in residential designs. Also on the residential side, builders are beginning to make new homes solar and electrical vehicle ready.

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