#MentorMonday: Erroll O’Neil, Assoc. AIA, NOMA

Welcome to #MentorMonday! Mondays are dedicated to celebrating Black LICENSED Architects, Designers, and individuals in the profession of Architecture!

The questions asked to these individuals are to allow us into their lives and to be used as an inspiration. I hope you all enjoy this series.

Name: Erroll O’Neil

Hometown: Chicago,Illinois

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

My interest in architecture started as a 10 year old kid when I first saw the Empire State Building. it was further influenced when I got a Kenner Super City building set for Christmas.Of course, here in Chicago, I saw my first Mies building downtown, the IBM Bldg, and I was hooked.

What does it mean to be a black architect to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?

Being a black architect does mean that you have a responsibility to your community to help rebuild it. Most of the projects I work on are located in my community (Of course working at a black firm helps). Being involved in NOMA really hammers this point home. 

What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?

Of course some of the obstacles you run into are that most of you clients are minority, which means you usually are working with strict budgets. You usually don’t get to design high rises of high end developments that are built by majority developers. Every now and then you get a nice design project with a large budget, but that’s few and far between!

Should we ignore race in this profession?

We should, however in this particular political climate, that is impossible. people tend to hire those who look like them!

If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?

You must love this profession enough to want to do it for free, because you generally wont get rich doing this. But, it is very rewarding to see one of your projects being built. 

Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?

Still in this process. 

How important is representation?

Representation is very important because these days diversity is a really big deal now. All races and especially women are under represented in this profession.

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