#MentorMonday: Tiffany Brown

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: Tiffany D. Brown

Hometown: Detroit, MI

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

As a child, I had always been anything related art, whether it be drawing, creative writing, music, etc. As I grew older I became more interested in the spaces around me and how they connected to people. I decided to study architecture when a recruiter from Lawrence Tech University came to my high school when I was in 12th grade. That was my first time being exposed to it as a profession. 

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

As a black woman in architecture, especially living in the city of Detroit where a major resurgence is taking place, it means a lot me that we are involved. That the residents are involved. I do feel it is my responsibility to make sure the people in this city, primarily minority, have a say in what’s happening here in our neighborhoods regarding public space and the built environment.  

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

I don’t look like the typical person would look in my position. Black women are non-existent in the field of architecture and construction. I have been mistaken for the person sent to clean up construction sites, ignored by superintendents, and underestimated by my peers. 

Should we ignore race in this profession?

Race should not be ignored in any profession. There are some who believe the trending topic of equity, diversity, and inclusion has been discussed and that we can now move on. But until the statistics have changed and the pay gaps have closed, it will continue to be an issue. 

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

Utilize your resources. Find a mentor, join student chapters of professional organizations. The National Organization of Minority Architects has student chapters in almost every school of architecture. Having a support system will work in your favor tremendously. 

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

A moment when I was at my lowest was the thought that I wouldn’t be able to pass the exams. The cost of the exams and the study materials are a major financial barrier. This is the reason I launched the 400 Forward initiative, to help black women with the cost of exams. Working in a firm full time and the many other aspects of life sometimes becomes an obstacle to properly study. It’s a pursuit I am still working to overcome. 

How important is representation?

Representation in the profession is important because our communities today are very diverse. Our client base is much more diverse than ever before. The professionals creating learning, living, healing spaces should reflect the community it serves. 

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