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In the iconic television show Seinfeld , the character George Costanza dreams of being an architect:

“You know I always wanted to pretend I was an architect.”

George even states nothing is higher than an architect and constantly pretends to be one, enjoying the perks that such a vocation has for his social standing. Black people would be wise to follow the fictional Costanza’s lead and pretend to be architects so that they too can enjoy the societal gain and prestige that employment in such a profession grants.

Just like Costanza, Black people find themselves despondently engaging in an un-winnable game of make-believe when it comes to the field of architecture, and lasting creations of grandeur:

“Architecture is culture,” says architect and professor Melvin Mitchell, a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). “It’s the mother art, the first art. When man builds, all of the art forms are housed in architecture.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are about 100,000 architects licensed in the United States. Of those, roughly 1,500 are African-Americans, according to the University of Cincinnati-sponsored Directory of African-American Architects. Thirty years ago, the percentage of African-American architects was roughly the same, which means that architecture continues to be a profession that lacks diversity in real numbers.

That lack of diversity means that it is that much harder for Black architects to get the top commissions that lead to more top commissions, says Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, president and CEO of Moody/Nolan Inc., in Columbus, Ohio. “There are a lot of talented African-American architects out there; the problem is that we’re still scratching the surface,” says Moody, whose company also has offices in Nashville, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Indianapolis. “There are firms that have the capability; we’re just under the radar.”

On the other hand, when you buy a music CD, read a book or go to a museum, those names may be more familiar. There’s a reason for that, Mitchell says. African-American architects–every bit as talented as musicians, writers, painters and sculptors–missed an opportunity to firmly entrench themselves in the American culture.

“When we had our first big, cultural renaissance during the Harlem Renaissance, African-American architects were missing from that,” says Mitchell, president-elect of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and author of The Crisis of the African-American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power. “We were the missing link … Our generation did not see themselves as privileged and having the authority to pursue culture.”

As a result, instead of entrenchment in Black culture, architecture has generally been a bit outside of Black culture–not as accessible and therefore not as desirable. Although the building booms continue to provide amazing opportunities for some designers, African-Americans aren’t pursuing the profession or gaining much of a foothold once they enter the profession.

We have reached in Black Run America (BRA) where industries that lack a sufficient amount of diversity are inherently evil for failing to employ the necessary amount of diversity that is tantamount to a prosperous society. Any profession that lacks a large Black presence is undeniably flawed and obviously has impediments – created by The Man – that keep Black people from prospering and thriving in that particular vocation.

Be it a test (MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc.) that requires passing to pursue an advanced degree or an inability to perform in advanced mathematics or meet the prerequisite requirements for admittance to an undergraduate school, Black people are grossly underrepresented in the field of architectur e.

Of the 1,571 Black architects, an astounding 40 percent of these came from HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which only further showcases the crisis that the architecture community is in with such a dearth of ebony structural designers:

At a time when there is a greater global need for designers, and when architectural firms are eager to tap into new markets, the nation can’t continue to ignore the African-American talent pool. Today, 40% of black architecture school graduates are from the half-dozen historically black college and university programs (aka HBCU), suggesting that the majority of our 116 accredited programs are doing relatively little to recruit and nurture the next generations of architects of color. Overall, maybe 40 African Americans become licensed in any given year with the largest concentrations of African American licensed architects to be found in New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Los Angeles. A number of states, to date, have no resident African American architects: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota. And while women constitute half of our architecture school students, they still represent less than 20% of licensed practitioners.

Remember, in Black Run America (BRA) those industries that have an insufficient amount of Black people are chastised for obviously practicing racism and denying those perpetually disadvantaged from bestowing joyful diversity upon that vocation which still operates under a Jim Crow mandate.

The field of architecture, though it requires five vigorous years of intensive undergraduate work and the inevitable internships and creation of a portfolio to succeed in even landing a job with a firm (not to mention an accredited degree), should toss aside such a daunting requirements and just grant Black people a license to be the token Black in an industry with so precious few to choose from.

Like any industry that requires high-levels of competence and hours of rigorous training, white people are doing everything in their power to locate more Black people so that calls of racism will not create architecture firms that find qualified Black applicants as rare as a qualified Caucasian, 100 meter sprinter:

Now Wilson, who graduated from A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham, is attending architecture school at Auburn, because of a firm that for two decades has helped put blacks into a field where their numbers are scarce. Of the 50 members of Birmingham-based Giattina Fisher Aycock Architects Inc., 20 percent are black — compared to only 1 percent nationally and about 3 percent in the state.

Although Alabama has been recognized as the birthplace of modern architectural design for blacks, with Rayfield and many others beginning their careers at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, today only 24 of 774 architects registered in the state are black, according to the Alabama Board of Architects.

ORDER IT NOW

Creig Hoskins, a black who is a partner at GFA and vice president of the National Organization of Minority Architects, said the firm is a rarity in Alabama — a white-owned architectural business that has made it a part of the office culture to provide opportunities for minorities.

The state board’s executive director, Cynthia Gainey, also said she was not aware of another architectural firm in the state assisting minorities to the extent GFA has.

“I think it should be the goal of every architect to recruit minorities,” said Hoskins. “Society is more diverse, therefore, architecture should reflect that diversity. Architecture is at its best when you have diversity and infuse the best the community has to offer.”

Hoskins believes the low numbers of minorities in the field may be attributed to a lack of visibility of black architects and a failure to push architecture in K-12 schools. Wilson also says there has been little media attention to successful black architects.

Roman Gary, a black architect who has been registered with GFA for three years, agrees.

“Early in high school, I really did not know what an architect was,” Gary said. “But when I discovered that there were people out there who design buildings, houses and make space for a living, I was captivated with that concept.”

The only hope for Black people to enjoy being real-life George Costanza’s and actually becoming certified architects (again, Black people should flock to industries that have precious few Black people, such as dentistry, engineering, software design, medicine, etc.) is for colleges and universities to lower the requirements necessary for graduation.

When one looks at the skyscrapers in major United States, 95 percent or more of them were designed by firms that would make even the marketing wizards from Madison Avenue in Mad Men blush. Now, the growth of building outside the United States in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and China are utilizing architects from America.

White architects.

Thankfully Black architecture does have one outstanding contribution that jolts into the sky, creating quite the striking image (thanks to North Korean company that constructed it) – the African Renaissance Monument in Senega l:

The African Renaissance Monument is a 49m tall bronze statue outside of Dakar, Senegal. Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam suburb, the statue was designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby after an idea presented by president Abdoulaye Wade and built by a company from North Korea.[1]Site preparation on top of the 100-meter high hill began in 2006, and construction of the bronze statue began 3 April 2008.

The next time you look up in the sky in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta or any city with an impressive skyline, chances are nearly 100 percent that buildings you see will have one thing in common: they weren’t designed by either George Costanza nor a Black person.

Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes architecture, a field so overwhelmingly white that the small percentage of Black people employed feel compelled to create their own directory and organization to promote their unique needs.

Wait: every vocation (public and private) has an exclusively Black group that allows only Black people to join and normally has major corporations and foundations giving vast sums of money to support these fledgling organizations.

Watch George Costanza and architecture, a video retrospective.

(Republished from SBPDL by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Black Run America 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    SBPDL,

    "Of the 1,571 Black architects, an astounding 40 percent of these came from HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which only further showcases the crisis that the architecture community is in with such a dearth of ebony structural designers:"

    Segregation ain't all that bad. In fact it seems necessary.

    If these are examples of BRA I 'm ready for WRA.

    -Black guy

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    SBPDL,

    You have got to be kidding about this post. Most people of all races don't know or give a rats ass about the Architect of a given structure, especially since most modern building lack any cultural or historical significance.

    Economic and legal factors have also replaced the lone Architects with multinational firms that involve many including people of other races and gasp. Negroes!

    Also large scale projects involve teams of structural, mechanical, and civil engineers. The racial scorecard gets lost in the shuffle.

    Finally lets not forget why George picked Architect. He was a con man who wanted a profession with prestige that most people rarely question due to lack of knowledge or interest. He even lied about designing a building to impress a woman.

    The Marine Biologist wasn't a long running George scam but it was also funny.

    -Black guy

  3. Kudos on this entry. Same is true of any major Wall Street trading desk, or hell even the bucket shop boiler room.

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The AFM statue in Senegal is a $30 million project, and yet the people still continue to dump their garbage on the side of the mountain upon which it is built?! Hilarious. Is that their contribution to architecture? Further, once the natives learn that the skin of the statue is inch-thick copper sheeting, they'll strip it bare and sell it for scrap. Every day, blacks in my town completely destroy $3000 heat pumps and air compressors for the $20 worth of copper wiring and tubing that's found inside the units.

  5. "Every day, blacks in my town completely destroy $3000 heat pumps and air compressors for the $20 worth of copper wiring and tubing that's found inside the units."

    I see this all the time. Unbelievable.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Black Guy, what college or university did you attend and what was your major? Did you ever happen to walk through the engineering, mathematics, or physics buildings? Those buildings invariably stink of mixture of kim chi, dried fish, and Indian food because you have nothing but Asians who eat, sleep, and study 100 hours a week. The only black people in those buildings are mopping the floors and it's not so that they can solve left over differential calculus equations left on the chalk board.

    The 4-5 years of 100 hour study weeks, which is just part of any hard science degree, is why you don't see many black engineers, scientists, physicists, architects, doctors, etc.

  7. First of all, why does everything have to be a "crisis" when not enough black people are involved in a profession? Seriously?

    Next, Melvin Mitchell goes on to say: " "We were the missing link … Our generation did not see themselves as privileged and having the authority to pursue culture.""

    Fair enough. However, that attitude continues down to this very day. Way back in March of 2008 I was telling co-workers and employees that Barack Obama was going to win the presidency, and all of them down to a single black individual all refused to believe it would happen. Not one of them thought it ever could, and that sentiment was reflected by people as noteworthy as Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Cynthia Tucker (who swore she thought she'd never see a black person president in her lifetime).

    Moving along…does anyone believe there is a crisis in the NFL? Peyton Hillis and Danny Woodhead are the only two white running backs in the league (at least that I can think of). Two years ago there were none. When are we going to get Congress to look into this glaring racial inequality?

  8. PKittens,

    That was the point of the post: A national emergency is always declared when a dearth of Black people are employed in a particular field. Racism is always to blame. Airline pilots, doctors, dentists, chemists, writers of viable fiction and architects are vocations that are just too white and the world can not last another day until this is fixed.

    You forget Toby Gerhart, the man who should have won the Heisman Trophy in 2009. He is the backup to the top running back Adrian Peterson and has gained more than 50 yards in two straight games.

    Corner back is a position with no white starters.

    Again, any industry plagued by whiteness is a true cause for a national scandal and the crisis of absent Blackness must be averted with a lowering of standards to ensure Black people make up for this disparate impact.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Looking at the Web site linked in the following quote: "Stuff Black People Don't Like includes architecture, a field so overwhelmingly white that the small percentage of Black people employed feel compelled to create their own directory and organization to promote their unique needs"

    I see where they list the 10 most recent additions to their database. Almost half appear to be continental African judging by the names unless there has been a recent trend away from naming black newborn males Rontario, Devonte, and Quintez.

    –Mencken–

  10. As a teen, I babysat for a neighbor whose husband was an architect. After losing his job and being unemployed for a while, he got a job with a D.C. architectural firm as their token White and was promoted quickly thereafter. He wasn't particularly talented or original, but he gave the all-black firm (all of their projects were D.C. city government contracts) a professional cachet. He also became a vocal affirmative action hack.

    As a young adult, I got to know a number of architects through a close friend of mine. Her brother, who was straight, was an architect. Almost all of his numerous architect friends were gay. This is why you see houses which look impressive but have no functional flow: the kitchens and laundry rooms and closet space were designed by gays for gays, with no concept of the needs of a heterosexual family with children.

    Most modern architects are on a par, artistically-speaking, with Bulgarian Christo's public displays of wrapping structures in yards of fabric.

  11. Architecture – The perfect job for someone who already has a trust fund.

  12. SBPDL said: "A national emergency is always declared when a dearth of Black people are employed in a particular field. Racism is always to blame."

    ————–

    Agreed. And it goes even deeper than that. When the old media (NY Times, CNN, NBC, etc…) want to highlight a social problem, they inflate it to "crisis" proportions in order to guilt people into acting or donating money.

    By the way, you ought to do an article on the phenomena of third-world countries accepting and rejecting help from developed countries (i.e. France, United States, England, Germany, Canada) all at the same time. It's astonishing the amounts and levels of violence being perpetrated against peacekeepers in Haiti right now who are trying to feed, shelter, and provide medical services to the people. And in return for all that help U.N. tanks are being fired upon, and roving gangs on motorcycles are setting up blockades to prevent the filthy "occupiers" from coming in with their medicine, clothes and food.

    Speaking of crises….new report came out today detailing the lack of Hispanic diversity on the major television networks. And by "major" I assume Telemundo, Azteca, Galavision, and Univision were all left out of the study, cause I never see any white, blacks, or Asians on those networks: "This was a terrible year for Latinos at the networks," said Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, "African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans posted impressive gains in most categories, but when it came to Latinos, the networks failed us." He added, "Don't misunderstand, we don't want what African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans received, the pie is much larger than that, we only want what we deserve as the largest minority consumer population in the nation."

    More at: http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/terrible-year-for-latinos-at-u-s-networks/

  13. Slightly off topic, but relevant in the sense that the The New York Times perpetuates the myth of all people being exactly equal / interchangeable:

    crimesofthetimes.blogspot.com

  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Blacks are self-haters and have lower IQs than whites. This explains why they are not able to enjoy success in the scientific fields, too much work, too much commitment, no instant gratification, and a rejection by the black collective for trying to get all uppity and intellectual (acting white). There are no shortcuts, and blacks like shortcuts and quick rewards.

    I worked as a waitress many years ago, and the kitchen cooks and dishwashers were mostly black ex-cons. The waiters were all white. Why? Because blacks knew that they could not handle the responsibility of waiting tables and counting change, and so no blacks ever applied.

    The black kitchen staff would have never even consider applying for a wait staff position because they were not smart enough to handle the pressure, almost as if they knew their natural place. I have never encountered a competent black waiter at any restaurant since then. I heard blacks also comment that they never thought we would have a black president, indicating that blacks are not capable enough for such a high position.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Black Guy, what college or university did you attend and what was your major? Did you ever happen to walk through the engineering, mathematics, or physics buildings? Those buildings invariably stink of mixture of kim chi, dried fish, and Indian food because you have nothing but Asians who eat, sleep, and study 100 hours a week. The only black people in those buildings are mopping the floors and it's not so that they can solve left over differential calculus equations left on the chalk board.

    The 4-5 years of 100 hour study weeks, which is just part of any hard science degree, is why you don't see many black engineers, scientists, physicists, architects, doctors, etc."

    Please tell me how any of this diatribe even remotely relates to the overall topic or any of my comments.

    Here is an example.

    Me: I like puppies.
    You: Black people are always complaining.

    You see both statements are opinions that could possibly be true, but grouped together make the respondent appear like an idiot.

    Just a thought.

    As far as school goes I attended CSULA with a major in Mechanical Engineering for two years and had to drop out due to the fact that I just ran out of money. More than anything being fresh out of high school I personally lacked the maturity and focus. I just couldn't find Jesse Jackson's phone number.

    Notice how I didn't blame other racial, ethnic groups,or the government for my decision making and consequences.

    How's that for staying on topic and answering a question in a relevant and logical manner.

    -Black guy

  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Black guy,

    I'm a longtime reader/sporadic commenter, and I just have to say that you are hilarious. You appear cultured, enlightened, and open-minded. In out modern media culture saturated with bogus awards and ceremonies, if there was an award for "keepin' it real" you'd undoubtedly claim it.

    -twentysomething white guy

  17. " I just couldn't find Jesse Jackson's phone number."

    Rainbow PUSH National Headquarters
    Chicago
    General: 773-373-3366
    Constituent Services: 773-256-2723

  18. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Notice how I didn't blame other racial, ethnic groups,or the government for my decision making and consequences."

    You, like other blacks on this site, love to set yourself apart from the majority of blacks in America who blame "The Man", institutional racism, whites, Republicans, conservatives and everyone else for black failure. You are also able, once you have told us how different you are, bind to the collective once again to defend your entire race.

    I have read many of your comments, and often you DO NOT hold blacks accountable for their failures, you place blame on outside forces. Blacks are above criticism in our culture.

    "I'm a longtime reader/sporadic commenter, and I just have to say that you are hilarious. You appear cultured, enlightened, and open-minded. In out modern media culture saturated with bogus awards and ceremonies, if there was an award for "keepin' it real" you'd undoubtedly claim it."

    Yes, Black Guy likes to set us all straight with his witty style and humorous takes on race and culture. I always look forward to his thought provoking posts as he "tells us like it is" and gives us so many reasons to change our minds about black people. Wait until he gets angry and calls you a racist, "ass clown" or "lap dog".

  19. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "You have got to be kidding about this post. Most people of all races don't know or give a rats ass about the Architect of a given structure, especially since most modern building lack any cultural or historical significance."

    Don't be so sure of yourself, Black Guy. Many whites give a rat's ass. It is just another huge cultural difference.

    Historical structures are an important part of my history. Black people do not appreciate architecture, it is true, because blacks believe that everything is owned by The Man and must be rejected. History = Slavery to blacks, and so any references to the past must be rejected. It is also why they reject conservatism.

    Historic structures connect us with the past and are worth saving. You should see some of the crappy lopsided "additions" that blacks have made to the historical homes in my downtown neighborhood. Some even used shipping pallets, cinder blocks, and vinyl slider windows for their "updates". Blacks strip beautiful old fixtures, tiles, and woodowork from historic homes and just toss them in the trash bin, while the whites salvage everything, restore, and demand historical designation.

    Blacks are happy with ugly cheap construction. Just ride through a black neighborhood and see for yourself. Beautiful architecture is definitely SBPDL. I know many whites who spend thousands of dollars to protect historic structures, blacks only squat and tear things down.
    This quote explains why architecture, especially the planning of cities, is important to white people:

    "The invention of the city, was a spiritual and technical achievement the historical significance of which surpassed by far the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. We need to reconnect our future with the past in order to live in a hopeful present. The city and the town are indispensable, and they must be places worthy of our spirits. Without them, we are liable to not remain civilized." -Leon Krier

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Hey Black Guy, it is funny how you make sure we know that you watch white shows like Seinfeld and Desiree tells us she is a vegetarian and shops at "Whole Foods" and has a French name.

    You both have convinced me that all of the black stereotypes are just not true!

    You must be studying about the things white people like. I am impressed!

  21. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Anonymous 5:16 AM,

    Have you been following this blog for more than a few days? If you have, you should have noticed by now that Black Guy doesn't go out of his way to defend people who happen to be black. He never claims to "tell it like it is," and he doesn't call people racists, lap dogs or clowns. Maybe you have him confused with Desiree?

  22. Ten bucks says black guy and twentysomething white guy have the same IP address.

  23. Miss Ann,

    They don't. You can donate that $10 to paypal above, or save it for the book!

  24. Perhaps it's too difficult to get a building permit to construct a single family home made from refrigerator boxes and duct tape.

  25. there arent many black architects but take a look at this list it gives a back ground of the ones of historical significants in North Carolina most of them coming from NC A&T.
    http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/ncblack.htm

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