Architects Seek Diversity
by Aphrodite Knoop
A mere one percent of registered architects in the United States are African Americans; a number that has remained unchanged for over 30 years. The profession is losing tremendous potential and an untapped market.
This was the conclusion of participants at a meeting of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). The AIA/NOMA summit was held August 1, 2001 at the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
According to AIA President John Anderson, FAIA, now is the time to increase these low numbers. "If we want the architecture profession to flourish in the 21st century," he said, "we must nurture our diversity so that we remain relevant to our increasingly diverse clients."
It was in this spirit of diversity that Anderson and Paul Taylor, NOMA, AIA, of African Heritage Architecture, Inc. invited a select group of influential people — leaders, educators, activists, and practitioners — to participate in the summit.
Why should the AIA and the profession at large deal with this problem? Melvin L. Mitchell, FAIA, said it best: "Black America, with a gross national product equal to the tenth largest economy on earth, is woefully under-served architecturally. A new type of entrepreneur-architect is required to provide that service."
Mitchell is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, The Crisis of the African-American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power. "The raw talent is out there. It simply needs to be presented with the possibility that architecture is the way to go," Anderson said.
Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (EYP) has designed many multicultural projects including several for Gallaudet University, a world leader higher education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Photo: Michael Dersin
Key Elementary School by EYP is the first school in the District of Columbia Public School System's modernization program. EYP was also involved in the development of the school system's new design guidelines.
Image: Einhorn Yaffee Prescott
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