#FutureArchitectFriday: Timothy Uzoigwe
Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but I live in Houston, TX.
Studied at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign(M.Arch)
Currently Designer at Gensler.
How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?
I am a purpose–driven person, someone with a cultural background that enforces good education and achieving your dreams. I believe that helped me through grad school as a BlackArchitecture student. As a young man who grew up in Africa, I must say at the beginning of my program in United states I was intimated because I was basically 1 of 4 black students in a class of about 100 students. I quickly noticed architecture was a field that lacked people that looked like me but after my first semester I used it as motivation to standout. I experienced a couple ofracists situation especially during projects, it took me a semester to prove myself amongst my friends that I understood architecture even though it was in my own unique way. With that I quickly noticed as a black student you need to put extra effort to standout. I remember during Architecture award ceremonies, I saw white students getting 3-5 scholarships and black students without scholarships, it made me feel sad.
One of my life changing experience was taking a seminar class in Grad School which I recommend for all Architecture schools called Gender and Race in Architecture by Prof. Kathryn Anthony. She encouraged us about the importance of speaking out and diversity in architecture. She told us about the NOMA (the National Organization of Minority Architects) conference that year and paid for our trip to the conference. I must say NOMA and the Black Architecture community gave me hope for our profession as Black Architects. Now as an Architectural Designer, I wish to keep volunteering with NOMA in creating incentives for outreach, mentorship and leadership to black architecture students and the profession at large.
Why do you want to get your license?
Yes, I am extremely excited to get licensed firstly, because itallows you position yourself for career advancement, also it allows you to claim the title of an Architect which has been my dream for years. And lastly, Because I want to be able to transition from a doer to a leader, without a license most architects in some states are not allowed to design certain type of buildings. I believe getting the license helps to add to the number of black architects in the profession and serves as an inspiration for younger architecture students.
My Father and my late mother. My Father is one of the most purpose-driven and hard-working black men I have seen. I respect him so much because even when I was the worst kid in class growing up, he believed in me. He kept encouraging meand still does.
My late mum inspired me so much with her words and love. I remember asking her in high school what she wanted me to study in college, she said “you can be whatever you want be, just choose to be”.
How important is representation?
Representation helps us to find character in our own identity, especially as black architects in a white dominated profession. We are influenced by what we see and experience. If all we study is white and all we see is white, all we create is white. I always give specific reference to History of Architecture, 99% of what we study in architectural History is about white architects and few or no people of color. Simply why we need representation. That’s why I applaud Black architecture communities such as NOMA, 400 strong, etc for pushing to create a form of representation for black architects. They inspire young architects to explore the untold stories of architecture and the undiscovered boundaries of the black thinkers.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”