#FutureArchitectFriday: Jimmie Drummond, III
Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.
Jimmie Drummond, III
Bowie, MD (Prince George’s County)
B.FA Interior Design; Howard University.
M.Arch + M.FA Lighting Design from Parsons The New School of Design
Employment Status: Architectural Designer at SHoP Architects in New York, NY
How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?
Growing up in P.G. County, Maryland (just outside of D.C) in the early 2000’s, there wasn’t much architectural excitement around. My parents weren’t artists or creatives so I wasn’t exposed to much architecture; however, I enjoyed sketching and painting nature, people, animals, and beautiful homes. The decision to study architecture in NYC was a pivotal moment for me because I knew that the city experience would be equally as educating as the academic studio. P.G county was very black and I loved it but as my interest for architecture grew, I became conflicted with what was uncommon there. NYC opened my eyes to my own identity and relationship with architecture as a black man and how important it is to have a perspective of other cultures as a student of architecture. Unlike many grad architecture students, I was completely unaware of basic knowledge or references of famous architecture, landmarks, architects, and common terms because I didn’t go to a top architecture schools. My classmates seemed very knowledgeable of “the basics” so I knew I had to catch up. Looking back, Parsons was the best decision for me because its international student body allowed me to make friends with people from countries I’ve never heard of like Uzbekistan or Sri Lanka.lol. I think Parsons embraced my blackness very much because they knew we were the most underrepresented race in architecture. In fact, during my final year, I found out that I would be the first African American to graduate with a dual-degree in Lighting Design and Architecture at not only Parsons, but in the country – mind-boggling to think about.
Why do you want to get your license?
I feel I have a responsibility and obligation to my family, my communities, and my race to fulfill what most architects haven’t been able to do for many reasons. I give you three of many: The first, I believe architecture is the most powerful manifestation of power. Something white people have controlled for generations. So I find the idea of having a “license to build” the most professionally liberating feeling to have.
My parents certainly are at the top of my list. Maybe not architecturally, but they’ve supported me from the elementary TAG art classes, to Science & Space summer camps, even to my early teenage years traveling internationally. My mom is also the hardest working woman I know. It’s actually insane how she was able to manage her own healthcare business with 50+ employees with just a few dollars to start. My dad taught us unmeasured discipline and other values that contribute to successful moments early in my career. I use my life experiences as my motivation and inspiration. Now I’ve been blessed to work in places like Toronto, study in Cambodia and London, and travel and experience different cultures in India and in the UAE.
How important is representation?
The influence of black culture on mainstream society and aesthetics is becoming more evident and ubiquitous, from entertainment to the rapid increase of black artists being featured in major museums and galleries. In the age of images, our expression has been coded and used for a plethora of uses in the spirit of capitalism, without regard for the effect this can have on our communities. I think design has the ability to create a more sustainable future, in which social impact plays a larger role and is too important to leave to one person, race, idea, or even profession. Representation is super important because our work has consequences. Our responsibility to engagement has consequences because architecture frames not only how we live together and interact but also how we view each other. To address the critic issue, a few friends and myself started chewing on this idea to start a collective called “Black by Design” which brings design professionals from all backgrounds togethers and hosts events focused on increasing the knowledge and unity amongst minority designers to amplifies our contribution to the industry and society at large.