#MentorMonday: Ralph Tait, RA
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: Ralph Tait
Hometown: I grew up in Paterson New jersey. However, I was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?
My dad. Right before high school he recommended that I try drafting my freshman year. My 10th grade year, I met the drafting instructor who became my instructor for the remainder of my high school years. He was also a local architect. He was very instrumental with making sure that I continued along this path after high school.
What does it mean to be a black architect/designer to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
Being the best architect I can be by providing my clients with the best service possible comes without saying. However, what is really important to me is being able to give back to those who are pursuing architecture as a profession. I did not get to where I am today by myself. There are a handful of people that assisted me along my journey. Because of that, I feel I am responsible to do the same whenever the opportunity presents itself.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?
During the course of my career, I think I was fortunate to spend most of my time with a firm that was good for my professional growth. I was given the opportunity to experience different aspects of the day to day function of the profession. That experience and understanding helped me with making the transition with starting my own firm. Because of where I gained most of my experience (especially early during my career), the majority of the obstacles were not too different than the average architect.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
We should not ignore race because the number of registered African American architects are very especially African American women when compared to other groups. Because of that reason, I think we need to try and figure out why the numbers are where they are and what can we do to improve them.
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
My advice would be, once you begin in the work world try your very best to position yourself in situations where you can grow professionally.
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
It was a graphic exam. I just knew that I aced it however, when I received the score with “FAIL”, I balled it up and threw it across the room. I said to my wife “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” She provided some uplifting words regarding just having the privilege to be able to sit for the exam. I was determined to not give up after our conversation and continued with the exams until I successfully completed all parts.
How important is representation?
Representation is very important because it can provide young architects with inspiration to continue.