#MentorMonday: Dimitrius Lynch, NCARB | LEED BD+C | WELL AP

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: Dimitrius Lynch 

Hometown: Compton, California

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

I was fortunate to attend Marcus Garvey School which had a unique curriculum where, among other focuses, it provided a distinctive foundation of cultural awareness. Around third grade our class studied the history of ancient Egypt including historical figures such as Imhotep, chief architect to the Egyptian pharaoh Djoser, architect of the Step Pyramid at Sakkara (first known monumental stone building), and in some circles considered the god of architecture. Our class was assigned a class-project to build a scale model of a pyramid. From that time architecture was imprinted on me. Some time later, my skills and interest in math and art led a teacher/counselor to suggest architecture as a career path. I’ve been on the path since.

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

To be a black architect is a representation of possibility. When I think of myself as a black architect, I think of how rare it is; how exclusive the title of architect is. I am reminded of the difficult journey and I look back in disbelief at times that I made it this far. The title of architect is a very trying achievement. The added complexities of social and cultural issues to this already difficult road often force many minorities off the path because there are few guiding lights to follow or support when it gets difficult.

Yes, there is undoubtedly more responsibility. In the day to day work, there is the added responsibility and pressure of representing a community and culture, to prove worth and dispel any misconceptions that may exist. Beyond the work, I perceive myself as an example to others of opportunities that exist beyond a street hustle, sports or entertainment. In addition, I understand how hard the road is and that I will need to help usher in the next generation of black architects in any way I can.

 

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

Due to the lack of representation, cultural isolation and a lack of commonality has been an occurrence that I’ve dealt with. While it can be a disadvantage in building relationships and, subsequently, potential opportunities, I try not to accept it as an obstacle as acceptance could impair my willingness to continue to network.

However, to my knowledge, I have not experienced many obstacles as a designer/architect that have been much different from colleagues. I have been fortunate to be employed by firms that enriched my professional development along the way.

 

Should we ignore race in this profession?

Not at all. Society has a diverse set of problems, many rooted in or influenced by race. Understanding and solutions cannot be reached solely by research. Experience of these issues is what garners true understanding. In order to address issues, race representation is paramount. Architecture is a profession that can uniquely benefit society. Architects receive extensive training in design thinking that promotes empathy, teaches how to identify problems, trains how to develop various potential solutions, and teaches how to execute the solution most likely to work. Many black communities have complex issues that could be positively affected through environmental design and design thinking. Our representation is needed in this profession.

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

First, identify a core reason why you want to be an architect; beyond interest in the process, or the product that is created. A driving purpose is what propels people through difficulties. I recall the poorly designed buildings that created dead spaces where I was nearly attacked by a gang as a kid. My passion is to shift the way we perceive and approach building design; to the share what poor does to under represented communities. Secondly, find a black architect as a mentor, even if the mentorship must occur via email. When times gets difficult, having someone to provide insight, perspective and firsthand knowledge will also help you navigate the obstacles and down times along the way.

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

Starting the licensure process was the lowest point because it was from zero. It was daunting both in exercise and cost to get going. To overcome it, I first researched pass rates and came to terms with the fact that I may not pass every exam immediately. I remained committed that a non-pass would not derail my effort. I then scoured the internet for free or discounted resources. I limited resources to not overwhelm myself. I then read all the material to familiarize myself with the big picture and identify critical or unknown information. I broke the process down to manageable doses reading a section/chapter during my lunch break, for at least an hour after work, and a few hours over the weekend. Under the assumption of higher pay post licensure, I charged multiple exams to my credit card spaced at six weeks to force myself to follow through. I continued my study routine focused in on the subject matter of the upcoming exam. There were a few that I did not pass. One exam took three attempts! Regardless of the stumbles, each pass fueled the next. The final pass and notification of licensure was one of the most surreal and satisfying achievements in my life.

How important is representation?

Representation is paramount. Regarding company culture and equity, a lack of representation can allow for isolation among employees. The lack of commonality can be a disadvantage in connecting with leadership, subsequently, creating paths of advancement to some, while indirectly obstructing others.

In addition, representation presents a diverse experience base and understanding within a company to allow for well vetted and developed solutions to the diverse set of problems that need to be addressed in today’s society.

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