#MentorMonday: Nancy Ivey Gates

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: Nancy Ivey Gates

Hometown: There’s a few: Moreno Valley, CA and Macon, GA

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

It was around middle school age I met a black female architect at church who became my inspiration. She and her family are apart of my life today.

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

When I walk into a meeting where I am one only a few black persons on the project and we are the ones making the major project decisions, there is a sense of pride, not only in me but seen in the eyes of the black people we pass by. I’ve been part of meetings, since my first year in the field, where I was the youngest, the lone female, black and one of the decision-makers on a project. I’d like to see a person, black and female, become part of the norm and not a token presence. As a black female Architectural Interior Designer, I have a responsibility to show up, be seen, be heard.

 

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

The challenges I’ve faced are being dismissed, overlooked or viewed as intimidating by colleagues and clients alike. I’ve been passed over during introductory handshakes, spoken over when trying to make a point or be part of the discussion.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

That would be a challenge. It cannot and should not be ignored.

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

Work smart, remember to plan and to rest and to play. Obtain an internship early, even in high school if possible. Don’t overlook other aspects of Art and Design field, all are important to architecture. Get to know people from all majors and many cultures, then maintain those relationships over the years. Travel the world. Take coursework in psychology or human dynamics. Pay attention to how technology and architecture work together. Be open to pursuing non-traditional avenues of architecture. Remember to keep your mind open and creative, especially during the hard times.

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

I am not licensed. I’ve considered it and although there is some benefit to passing the NCIDQ or obtaining a CID in California, I chose not to do so.

How important is representation?

Representation matters. As a black female Architectural Interior Designer, I have a responsibility to show up, be seen, be heard. I came into this field because I saw and met a black woman architect.

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