07-03-17

Kent’s CAED receives four applicants from ACE Mentor Program

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For almost three years, the CUDC’s Kristen Zeiber has participated in the local Cleveland chapter of the ACE Mentor Program, representing Kent State University as a Board Member and member of the Scholarship Committee.

ACE stands for Architecture, Construction, and Engineering. High school students at eight Cleveland-area schools (7 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District plus one in Warrensville Heights School District) participate in this after-school program every two weeks with industry professionals, learning about the design and construction of the built environment around them. These industry mentors introduce students to the many career paths in the ACE industries and take them through a design project of their own to demystify the process.

ACE chapters exist all over the country, but Cleveland’s chapter is one of the largest and is notable for its close relationship with CMSD and for providing significant scholarships for ACE students to go on to higher education. High school seniors in ACE apply for scholarships through a series of essays and letters of recommendations, and local companies and institutions (including Kent State, plus the Cleveland AIA chapter) support their continuing education through donations.

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At the end of each school year, ACE holds a banquet to award scholarships and allow each team to present the year’s projects. On April 26, 2017, nine ACE teams presented their responses to the RFP, which called for new ideas for making healthy places. Each team had to come up with a design, figure out some preliminary materials and construction techniques, and even sketch out an overall budget, and then present to a panel of local practitioners.

This year, ACE distributed a four-year total of over $118,000 in scholarships to 21 graduating seniors. Most excitingly for Kent State, though, was that the College of Architecture and Environmental Design had FOUR applicants from this year’s ACE class. We’ve had two CAED students from ACE for each of the past two years, but four is our highest number so far. This year’s recipients are:

  • Anais Harris – Architectural Studies
  • Michael Mascella – Architecture
  • Cesar Sandate – Construction Management
  • Isidro Villa – Architecture

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Kent State has an agreement with ACE to match any scholarships for up to four incoming Architecture, Interior Design, and Construction Management students up to $1,500 / year each. In addition, Michael Mascella and Isidro Villa split the prestigious Cleveland Foundation Ward Scholarship, for students from the Cleveland area intending to study architecture. We’re looking forward to adding these energetic young students to our college and hopefully continuing to grow our involvement with ACE further in the future.

Congratulations to our four CAED ACE students, and all the ACE scholarship recipients!

For more information on the ACE Mentor Program, check out the national website or the Cleveland chapter Facebook page.

 

06-01-17

CUDC Wins 2017 EDRA Great Places Award for Making Our Own Space (MOOS)

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Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative is honored to receive the 2017 Great Places Award in the Planning category from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).

The EDRA Great Places Awards recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design and pay special attention to the relationship between physical form of the built environment and human activity or experience. The Great Places Planning Award specifically recognizes the CUDC’s Making Our Own Space (MOOS) initiative, a youth program focused on engaging and empowering middle and high school students with the skills to transform their neighborhood public spaces.

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MOOS is led by CUDC staff in close partnership with a team of local and nationally-renowned designers. Focused on outdoor spaces owned by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) and the City of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this initiative uses hands-on, on-site workshops to build physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Outdoor workshops organized by students addressed issues related to shared spaces, inclusive decision-making and helping to bring diversity to the design fields by involving youth from underrepresented groups. In response to the project, the City of Shaker Heights created a committee of staff, residents and councilpersons to increase leadership opportunities for middle and high school youth. The Shaker School District is exploring how to incorporate the MOOS placemaking workshop into its curriculum. The EDRA Award jury stated, “This is a great example of planning that involves youth in place making and community building.”

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Started in 2015 by Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), the program supports the CUDC’s Design Diversity initiative by raising awareness in African American and Latino communities about the range of design careers available to youth. MOOS workshops expose students to design thinking and making, employing interdisciplinary approaches from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning, and graphic design.

Making Our Own Space is made possible through the generous support of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, The City of Shaker Heights, and the Cleveland Foundation’s Minority Arts & Education Fund.

Follow us at: wearemoos.org
Instagram: @wearemoos
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03-23-17

Mapping the Design Journey

by Jacinda Walker
Founder, designExplorr.com 

Design Journeys: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Design Disciplines from Jacinda Walker on Vimeo.

The journey to a career can be met with great success or great struggle. When a traveler is prepared for the journey, they typically cover more distance and the experiences they encounter become quick stops along the way— moments of pause that, with rest and refueling, allow them to begin again. However, for a traveler who is less prepared to face the bumps, twists, and turns of the road, minor challenges become major roadblocks. Those minor challenges become permanent barricades that ultimately inhibit travel and one’s likelihood to continue on the path of success. Unfortunately, the latter path described here is all too common among young African American and Latino youth who seek a design-related career.

This line of inquiry led me to visualize what the journey to becoming a designer looks like and analyze what tools are needed to obtain a design-related career. My research work entitled, Design Journeys: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Design Disciplines (2016) explores diversity in design disciplines and presents fifteen strategic ideas to expose African American and Latino youth to design-related careers. This solutions-based thesis introduces a map charting a design career from grade school to a seasoned professional. The “Design Journey Map” contains four color-coded passages: foundations, proficiency, workforce, and influence. The passages overlap with career competency components to cultivate soft skills together with the hard skills youth learn along the journey to a design career.

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Figure 1: The Design Journey Map in full

The Design Journey Map is a simple navigational tool that can be used as a framework to better inform students, parents, professionals and organizations which strategic ideas are needed and where to place them along the career path to increase diversity in design disciplines.

This framework is important because it shows the journey to become a designer and provides four principles of a strategic solution for closing the diversity gap in the design industry. The principles address the complex problem of a lack of diversity in design by identifying characteristics of a strategic solution needed for helping to close the diversity gap in design. They are labeled as comprehensive, collaborative, local, and scholastic. These Design Principles help to ensure long-term success for programs and initiatives whose intent is to expose African American and Latino youth to design-related careers.

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Figure 2: The four Design Principles for a strategic solution

Read more…

12-08-16

Advocating for Diversity: A Conversation with Michelle Barrett of NOMAS

michele crawford cropMichele Crawford presents her architectural research at the 2014 Design Diversity Powered by PechaKucha event in Cleveland, Ohio

Michele Crawford from Architecture firm Robert P. Madison International speaks with Michelle Barrett, the new president of the National Organization of Minority Architects Student Chapter (NOMAS) at Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design

by Michele Crawford

My inspiration to become an architect emerged from my educational journey. I did not have many architectural influences prior to my start on the path to architecture. My career goal was to become a car designer. I translated this ambition to the creation of interior environments and ultimately completed both a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Architecture and Master of Architecture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The study of architecture in Chicago proved to be an amazing experience. My studio space was on the top floor of The Sullivan Center, formerly the Carson Pirie Scott Building, and I could easily visit historical examples of designs from Frank Lloyd Wright, Renzo Piano, Mies Van Der Rohe, Stanley Tigerman, and others. Using the city as my classroom provided enduring inspiration.

I noticed, however, the lack of admiration of both women and architects of color in the Chicago scene and worldwide. When my professors suggested architects to use as inspiration, they were rarely African American, and never African American women. It was through my own investigations that I found images of architects similar to myself and my culture. Gradually, Paul Revere Williams became my Mies. Norma Merrick Sklarek became my F.L. Wright. Dina Griffith became my Renzo. Sharon Sutton could eloquently express my angst—preparing me for the suppression of the African American voice and visibility in the profession.

In my current position as Project Designer at Robert P. Madison International, I am surrounded by a rich history of architectural contributions from an African American owned firm, currently led by Sandra Madison. I make special attempts to show my face to those who are considering pursuing a design career, and try to persuade those with interest.

Currently, the United States has under 400 licensed African American women architects, making up just under .4% of the greater architect population. We have a desperate need for more representation. The diversity rates nationally in architecture are not keeping up with the changing communities that the profession is called upon to serve. African Americans comprise 13.9% of Ohio’s population. Strikingly, Ohio has 2,650 licensed architects, but only 63 are African American—that’s only 2% of the profession. This disparity has been evident since the inception of the profession. In 2015, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) initiated a deeper conversation about this matter. The AIA surveyed its members and supporters about the perception of diversity and also examined the relationship of diversity to success in the field. Its closing analysis suggested changes in hopes of creating greater equality and more balanced numbers. Communities and demographics are steadily changing, yet, the demographics of the designers of these same spaces are not keeping pace.

As the new president of the National Organization of Minority Architects Student Chapter (NOMAS) at Kent State University, Michelle Barrett is working towards creating and sustaining a space of support for students of color in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). We recently discussed her ambitions to move past potential and into action in the architecture world’s quickly approaching future. Though the Kent State diversity numbers in the architecture and design programs seem to align with the national averages, the opportunity for a NOMAS chapter to spark a change is hopeful. The current minority students, and specifically Michelle, seem to recognize the importance of support for students of color at Kent State and are working towards change.

Michelle and I had the following conversation about her experience leading the NOMAS Chapter and her plans for the future.

Design Awards Michele and MichelleLeft to Right: Terrance Pitts (Turner Construction), Michelle Barrett, Michele Crawford, Teresa Giralt (Turner Construction), Amir Allenbey at the AIA Cleveland Design Awards

 

Michelle Barrett
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Class / Year: Class of 2017, 4th year
Major: Architecture

 

MC: How did you hear about Kent State?

MB: As many black youth, I thought my future was in sports. I played soccer all of my life up until I tore my ACL during my senior year. Kent State was on my list of schools (for soccer) because my coach had past connections. After it was clear that I wouldn’t be playing sports in college, I had to approach that list of schools differently. Which one would provide the best academic value? Kent State was the answer.

 

MC: What inspired you to pursue the architecture path?

MB: I have always been drawn to art and design. Probably because of my mother; she is a graphic designer. But I never really wanted to be an artist. I wanted to have an impact on people’s everyday lives, to help people. I didn’t know how or what career would allow me to do that. At an away soccer tournament in Miami, a player’s mother took us on a tour of Downtown Miami. She gave us a history lesson on all the Art Deco inspired architecture and the type of events that happened there. I fell in love. At that point I realized how I could be creative, yet impactful, in society.

 

MC: Why NOMAS? Why now? 

MB: I did not previously know about NOMA/NOMAS until CAED Associate Dean Bill Willoughby initiated discussions on the topic. He was and continues to be an integral part of NOMAS here at Kent. After the initial informational presentations he gave students, a group of us students took the lead in formalizing the organization. The other students involved included: Torri Appling, Shelton Finch, and Zai Abdi. I personally took ownership of the process because I thought it was important to have an organization devoted to minority issues (diversity, inclusion, fellowship, etc) in relation to architecture. It’s a unique niche that cannot be fully realized in groups such as Black United Students (BUS).

 

MC: Have you ever felt as if you were treated unfairly because of your gender or race?

MB: On many occasions, people are surprised to hear about my academic achievements—be it my choice of major or my honors standing. After many years, their surprise no longer catches me off guard. However, I still feel an injustice when said individuals expect you to be 10x better than your peers. They hold you to different standards and it is unfair.

 

MC: What has been you favorite studio project?

MB: My favorite studio project was in Third Year Studio—The Media Center Library—a part of the Cleveland International School masterplan. It was the first time we interacted with real clients—the community, the students.

 

MC: As president what are the main goals that you have for the organization?

MB: My main goals for the organization include career development (educational and professional), community engagement in the Greater Cleveland area, and to ensure that the NOMAS voice continues to be heard as a legacy organization in the future CAED community.

 

***

Historically, the voice of the African American architect has been suppressed. However, as our world continues to change, the profession seems to be committed to making the field a more inclusive and welcoming place for all. Organizations like Design Diversity are working to push accountability in this matter. Design Diversity, an advisory committee which grew out of Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), is committed to educating, connecting, and celebrating diversity in the design professions. Specifically focusing on African American and Latino communities, this group has specific goals of awareness to the larger design community with hopes of encouraging authentic, diverse views and considerations within and throughout the design process. Ultimately, Design Diversity and NOMA/NOMAS are promoting the importance of varied voices in educational and professional design communities.

 

Michele Crawford, Assoc. AIA, is a Project Designer at Robert P. Madison International, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Michele serves on a number of service organizations, including the Design Diversity Advisory Committee. In 2016, Michele was recognized with the Activism Award by AIA Cleveland. Follow Michele on Twitter @initiat_ed.

 

 

References:

NCARB By the Numbers 2015
http://www.ncarb.org/About-NCARB/NCARB-by-the-Numbers/~/media/Files/PDF/Special-Paper/2015NCARBbytheNumbers.ashx

African American Architects Directory
http://blackarch.uc.edu/

Diversity in the Profession of Architecture
http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/aiab108092.pdf

African Americans in Ohio
https://development.ohio.gov/files/research/P7003.pdf