#FutureArchitectFriday: Claudia Bowes

Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.

Name: Claudia Bowes

Hometown: Olney, MD

Educational Status: 3rd Year student at Penn State (Bachelors of Architecture)  

How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?

There is very little representation in the major and the campus (a PWI). Being in a difficult major and not feeling comfortable in my environment definitely stretched me very thin. But I matured because of it. I had to decide whether I would crumble or climb, so I began to make every effort to move beyond the feelings of isolation and found NOMA. NOMA has definitely opened my eyes to all of the minority designers in the world, especially black women and men. It also showed me that my being black is not something that holds me back in this field but launches me forward.

Why do you want to get your licensed?

I believe that architecture is a great device to advance social and emotional justice. My dream is to design beautiful spaces for lower-income communities and those subject to gentrification. Income inequality results in unequal treatment in housing. I believe architecture is supposed to celebrate representation and culture. However, there are many communities that are not represented in their architecture. It is completely
possible to design space that is not only captivating but cost-effective and sustainable. Tremendous strides have been made in design for this to be attainable. More designers who are willing to understand a specific community’s culture and create remarkable spaces that rebuild and bring that community together are needed to make that happen. My goal is to be one such designer.
Everyone deserves a chance to grow, and my dream is to use architecture to help them do that. Having my license will give me the freedom I need to start my own firm and work within communities that do not have a voice.

Biggest inspiration/influence?

My mother. She has always supported my interests and made sure that I knew anything that I set my mind to was possible, not letting money or level of experience hold me back from achieving the things that I want to achieve. When I was eight, I desperately wanted to be a lawyer (my inner-architect wasn’t quite there yet). For Christmas, she bought me three law books, telling me that I should look through them to see what a lawyer does and what they have to learn, so I did. Although I graciously decided not to be a lawyer anymore, the fact that she was so eager to help me fulfill my dream was something that I have always held on to. It showed me that she would always be there for me.

How important is representation?

To me, representation is incredibly important. I went to my first NOMA conference in New York, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of representation in one room. I was only used to what I would see in school. Seeing so many black women and men in architecture changed my outlook on the major and gave me the motivation that I needed to keep going. Representation shows us what’s possible.

Favorite quote/poem/song/etc.?

“Do everything in love” 1 Corinthians 16:14

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