#MentorMonday: Azeez Bakare

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: Azeez Bakare

Hometown: Born in Staten Island, NY / Raised in Ohio…mostly Beavercreek and Delaware, OH

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

My father actually sparked my interest in Architecture…though he is a civil engineer, I knew that he was interested in this field of study. I was also quite interested in hand-drafting and math, so I felt that Architecture was the perfect field of study. But boy, was I wrong haha.

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

To me, I feel quite proud to be a black artist within the field of Architecture. I feel that being a black professional within this industry is a feeling of gratitude for me. I have the opportunity to showcase to other people that look like me, that they belong here or within any industry their heart desires. I do feel that I have responsibility, but honestly I feel that my motivation to represent and create has a stronger force on me than anything. I am grateful to be within this industry. I am grateful to be here and to do what I am doing in this lifetime. When I first started my career, yes I did feel more responsible…but now I feel more grateful than ever because I know what was done before me to provide me with this opportunity to live in this way, as a Black Professional within the Architecture Industry.

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

Growing up, I felt that in my mind, that I did have to work harder in order to obtain opportunities as my non-minority classmates or colleagues. This was never a mindset that made me feel “less than” …nor was it an idea that gave me feelings of negativity. It was actually just a mindset that made me work harder for what I wanted. It was never an excuse for me…rather it was an additional form of motivation. Being of color is a blessing in my mind.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

No, we should not ignore race but rather celebrate it and celebrate our differences. This is how we learn from each other — we cannot ignore history or anything related to what has built us to this point in our lives.

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

The advice I would send to young black architects in the making, would be to join NOMA and AIA — collaborate with as many minority architects as you can. Shadow their career and interview them to learn what they do on a daily basis. There are resources to help you become a great student, and an even better architect and human.

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

A moment I was at my lowest during my pursuit to obtain my degree was when I earned the same grade in a studio course as a classmate who dropped out half-way through the quarter of study. From that moment on, I did whatever I could to understand architecture…and how to think critically. From this moment on, I was able to earn my first 4.0 — moving forward I was able to improve my mindset towards understanding concepts and design.

How important is representation?

Representation is important for both the profession and for the ones who want to join the profession. Credit may not always be provided, but the world needs to know the ones behind the scenes creating and serving purpose on our planet. Representation builds confidence and is a catalyst for growth within the profession.

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