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It was a pleasure to participate in this year’s NOMA Conference. Aside from the amazing events that were held, the opportunity to be back in Chicago after a number of years and to be reminded of all the beautiful architecture and overall design of the city was wonderful. Here are a few takeaways from my conference experience.

 

Wednesday October 17th, 2018

Hip-Hop Architecture Lecture – Mike Ford

I really enjoyed this lecture because it began by giving an insight as to how black music has affected some influential architects in history. The most interesting story was how Le Corbusier was more or less obsessed with Josephine Baker and began his interest in African American culture and even dressed like her at a point in time.

 

The second portion of the lecture was Ford discussing his project pipeline initiative that, in the literal sense, turns hip hop music into architecture. It was a summer program offered to predominantly middle school students and allowed  them to study different hip hop songs and formulate graphs and structures from them. They also get to explore the hip hop aspect and create a verse to but in their mixtape at the end of the summer. It was great to also hear how this program gave them the opportunity to address certain issues that affect them. For example,  at the Chicago program, the kids recorded verses that spoke on the issue of gun violence in the city. Children are normally the most affected about certain things that happen in their neighborhoods and it was refreshing to hear their voices and opinions about them.

 

Thursday October 18th, 2018

Gender and Race in Contemporary Architecture – Kathryn Anthony

I attended a lecture at the ARUP Chicago office centered on the various  issues that people of different races and genders face when it comes to the designs of certain spaces or the lack thereof of spaces.

 

For example, her class discussed public restrooms and identified  some that were designed properly and others that weren’t. One thing that was mentioned, which is also becoming a national topic, is the lack of diaper stations in men’s restrooms.

 

 

 

Friday October 19th, 2018

Public Architecture for Public Good: Social/Public Housing Abroad – Tya Winn

This session was a summary of the presenter’s trip to a number of different countries and their renditions of public housing. Some interesting observations she spoke about were how some countries paid attention to the amenity spaces, how others didn’t have as strict of guidelines as the United States, and how all of the countries she visited didn’t have the stigmatisms of public/affordable housing that the US has.

 

Although there were still issues of upkeep and functionality it was still great to see how they address public housing and gave an opportunity for us as minority architects to have a discussion about how to address it in our communities.

 

Saturday October 20th, 2018

Student Design Competition

This year’s student design competition was to develop a carbon neutral mixed use transit oriented development. Located at the 63rd St Metra Commuter Rail Station, the design challenge was to create a place for services connecting the surrounding communities of Woodlawn. There were 40 schools that submitted for the competition, one of them being my alma mater, Howard University. It was amazing to see all of the spectacular designs that the students came up with and all of the young talent in one space. The winning school was the State University of New York at Buffalo.

 

The NOMA Conference was such a wonderful experience that gave me the opportunity to be in a beautiful city while exposing me to different architectural styles. I was able to sit in on sessions that sparked the conversation of how we, as minority architects and designers, can begin to make an impact. I saw old faces from my alma mater, met many new people, and was ultimately surrounded by so many successful black and brown faces that motivate me to be the best professional, designer, and architect I can be. I have now been convinced to officially join NOMA and am excited to potentially attend next year’s conference in Brooklyn, NY.