#MentorMonday: Anson Stuart, AIA, PMP©, LEED© G.A., ICC (B-2)

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: Anson M. Stuart

Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

For as long as I can recall, I’ve been drawing and interested in creating things with my hands. I believe I was in the 4th or 5th grade in Nassau when I won a story writing contest. I only entered the contest because the winning prize was a shopping spree at an art supply store. But it wasn’t until my 11th grade in high school that I was exposed to the profession of architecture. An African American graduate student from Florida A&M University (FAMU) came and spoke to my graphics class about the school and the profession in general. It was my first time ever meeting an Architect, even though he wasn’t quite a licensed architect just yet. But see him made me realize that there was this wonderful profession that was in line with what I lived doing already.

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

It means everything. There were so many challenges during my college years and then in my professional career to get licensed. But I  knew the statistics and felt as though I had an obligation to contribute to improving them. Yes I do. I think in addition to being the best architect that I can possibly be, by providing the best possible service to my clients, I feel like I have a responsibility to encourage up and coming black students just the way I was encouraged. That is why I speak to students from elementary through college about my passion for architecture.

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

I’ve encountered people (potential clients, consultants, etc) who when we first meet may have made assumptions on my level of expertise and knowledge. And, when it comes to potential clients, this can translate into their assumptions on what your fees should be. The key is to know what you’re worth and the level of experience and value you’re bringing to each project, and stand by your proposal.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

Racism should never be ignored. It should be met head on and confronted every single time.

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

Know your why? Why do you want to be an Architect? If your why isn’t stronger than the adversities you’re sure to encounter, you will not succeed.

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

First and foremost, I believe NCARB has improved and streamlined the licensure processes and procedures. However, for me, that process was an absolute nightmare. I started under one version of the exam, had three exams left, was transitioned into another, and those three increased to five. Then, due to the rolling clock some of the exams that I had already passed began to fall off. I wrote to NCARB, to the State of Florida, because I was provided with incorrect information during my transition phase. They did not budge. Long story short, I had to basically start from scratch. But my why was bigger than their error or my pain. I simply had no choice but to become a licensed architect. No matter how long it took, I was going to do it. Because I knew how important it was for me to contribute to the percentage. Failure is a part of growth. But you can only be a failure if you give up.

How important is representation?

Not sure I understand the question, but as it relates to representing for black architects I believe it is very important. We are few and far in between and most of us know each other. So how we perform to our Clients is critical to making sure they select us and others like us again.

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