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Architect and design camp recently held for minority students

11th August 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

This past July, the Louisiana affiliate of the National Organization of Minority Architects completed their third annual Architecture and Design Summer Camp at the Tulane University School of Architecture, showcasing the skills of future architects.

The Louisiana Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects is dedicated to advocating for diversity in architecture and design through fellowship, community engagement, mentorship, and design excellence.

“Our focus is to introduce students to the design profession in an engaging environment,” Vice President & Program Director Bryan Lee said. “Most of the students who participate in the program have little to no experience with architecture or design and we don’t require students to have any prior training to join in the fun. We’re thrilled to engage with the next generation of talent, young citizens, and professional peers to inspire an interest and passion for design.”

This year’s four-day camp hosted 22 high school students representing Ben Franklin, St. Augustine, KIPP, Joseph S. Clark, Sci Academy and Sci Tech.

Lee explains that over the course of four days, students worked both individually and collaboratively to produce program diagrams, neighborhood asset maps, pathway studies, context models, site models and building sketch models all in effort to understand the implications of designing and developing socially responsible neighborhoods and buildings.

“The New Orleans camp has consistently brought in about 20-25 students year over year, but the success of past camps has allowed Project Pipeline to expand into the Baton Rouge area in year two, adding an additional 15 students to the summer program and subsequently allowing us to bring a full curriculum to students in schools around the city during this past spring,” Lee says. “The camp has been successful from the standpoint that we’ve had the opportunity to expose over 200 students to architecture and design in the last three years. The program has won multiple national awards and allowed mentors at every level to engage.”

The program is built to provide students with a platform to discuss, analyze, and interpret the impact of design, art, architecture in the built environment through a focused curriculum and creative outcomes. Students are asked to think creatively about the spaces around them and are given the opportunity to investigate how they can best influence those spaces.

“We have been extremely lucky to have bright students who are interested in learning about design as a profession and its social implications,” Lee told The Louisiana Weekly. “We’ve had three students enter an architecture program in the first few years and we believe, with continued interaction and mentorship, those numbers will continue to grow and more students will find their way towards the profession.”

NOMA Louisiana project pipeline workshops are little more rigorous and have a focus on connecting students who are interested in pursuing architecture with mentors and schools across the country. These workshops are a continuation of architecture and design summer camp. The program is built to provide students with a platform to discuss, analyze, and interpret the impact of design, art, architecture in the built environment through focused curriculum and creative outcomes. We believe that architecture is personal and collaborative, logical and creative, and it is the relationship between these modalities that defines design thinking and in turn defines the Project Pipeline workshops. Up to five New Orleans High Schools will have the opportunity to participate in the year-long design workshop series this year.

“Architecture is a difficult profession to pursue and the earlier students are introduced to its potential the more specifically the breadth of its benefit to society, the more likely they will be able to have early success,” Lee states.

He believes the experience can give students the tools to make a significant impact in the progress of New Orleans in the future.

“Public discourse is a common practice in the redevelopment of post-Katrina New Orleans,” Lee says. “Louisiana project pipeline is attempting to give students the vocabulary and potentially the creative license to speak to changes in the city with great impact.”

According to (NOMA) Louisiana, fewer than two percent of the 105,000 licensed architects in the United States are African-American. Minority architects are rare at blue chip architectural firms and seldom seen in senior management positions at these firms.

Many observers ascribe the scarcity of minority architects to a lack of visibility and awareness of the profession. (NOMA) Louisiana serves as a beacon, exposing many young people to an unforeseen career possibility.

Lee states that Hispanics and Latinos account for less than seven percent of licensed architects and women make up less than 20 percent; it is the goal, according to Lee, that the program serves those communities that are historically underserved.”

“In Louisiana alone there are, give or take, 20 licensed African American architects,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “That means that in a city of over 360,000 African-American residents, there will always be a deficiency of voices speaking on behalf of the predominant cultural in this city. It is paramount that the numbers grow.”

For more information on the Louisiana chapter of NOMA, visit

This article originally published in the August 11, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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