#MentorMonday: Larry Travis Jr., 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: Larry R. Travis Jr.

Hometown: Tougaloo, Mississippi

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

As a young child, I absolutely enjoyed playing in the great outdoors and getting my hands dirty. I was always curious about nature and its’ ability to provide all the resources needed to survive and create shelter. This led me to spending the summers outside building tents, forts, and other temporary structures, not knowing that one day I would have the opportunity to create spaces others would enjoy.

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

It is a great honor to be an African American architect, because it gives you the opportunity to help shape a more diverse future. As a black architect, you have to understand the difficulties of being in a profession in which you will be underrepresented and constantly challenged. All architects have a great responsibility, and it’s up to the individual as to how he or she chooses to live up to this responsibility.

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

Architecture is a field that is always evolving as technology and innovation in building techniques improve. Therefore, keeping up with the latest practices is a challenge. I think obstacles that may be unique to black architects is that it may be difficult for some people to find credibility or validity in your work and your efforts,  even though you have to meet the same expectations that all other architects have to meet.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

Each individual’s uniqueness makes for a richness in the design profession. I think that race, cultural identity, gender, ethnic background, and personal experiences can not be ignored. Ignoring these qualities would greatly limit the potential for a collaboration and exchange of great ideas. When we come together for design, we can build a better world for all to enjoy.

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

I would encourage black students to not make themselves less. Challenge yourself and strive for excellence. Although you may face unimaginable personal challenges and struggles as you pursue your education, it is important that you know that you are just as capable of being architects as anyone else.

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

The path to licensure is not easy, but with patience and dedication, it is achievable. I think that my lowest point was when I realized the time required for me to study and pass all the exams would require longer than I expected. You may have to sacrifice a lot of time devoted to the exams. It is important to not compare yourself to others and how long it took them to pass their exams. It is important that you understand that everyone has a different journey in life. I overcame these obstacles by focusing on the positives and acknowledging that not obtaining my license was not an option for me.

How important is representation?

Representation is key to fostering future minority architects and giving them the opportunity to see that they have the potential to be architects and designers. You can’t be, what you can’t see.

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