#FutureArchitectFriday: Lakeisha Mason
Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.
Name: Lakeisha Mason
Hometown: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Educational Status: Masters in Architecture
How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?
As a black architecture student, I was always aware of what the expectations were when I walked into a room. I became so use to being the only black female student on my career journey, at one point I was asked by a male colleague if I was in the right room in an engineering course. I vouch to myself that day, that I can do anything in this industry that I set my mind to. Being raised in the Caribbean, you are expected to perform at a maximum of excellence and anything short of it is considered humility, so the pressure was on! Country and culture, we are taught as Caymanians to take it anywhere we go. This didn’t always work in my favor, due to my island experiences my approach to projects were different, so I stood out amongst candidates and I had to learn to embrace my design technique and use it to my advantage. I became known for bringing the island flavor in both presentation methods and work quality. Given the bold title of Ms. Extra, there was an expectation to be met. I felt pressured to perform, but I appreciated the support of my colleagues in the Masters program to deliver the Cayman Kind way in every project.
Why do you want to get your licensed? Biggest inspiration/influence? How important is representation?
The personal accomplishment of obtaining my license is one step further to being internationally qualified. In the Cayman Islands, it’s not required to sit any form of examination to be classified as an architect. None the less, I want to be able to give my future architecture firm creditability to prospective clients. From experience in the industry, I find that its always one of the first questions clients ask.
My biggest influence would have to be my Jamaican Father. Absolutely none of my accomplishments thus far has impressed him. Excellence is the bare minimum; he keeps me both grounded and fixated on my next achievement. He never allows me to get comfortable or settle for anything less than I deserve as a designer. He encourages me to always persevere and that given up is never an option.
How important is representation?
The importance of representation gives the upcoming generation limited room for excuses. Me, a black architect? It has been accomplished, so now the question has to be asked, how are they going to surpass the standard of excellence? It can , and will continue to be done and I look forward to being a part of history being made. The notion of having a black architect at the table has shifted, we now lead the design tables, and start conversations to bring insight on communities from an internal perspective. We as black architects have so much roots, that set the foundation for design solutions.
“This too shall pass” It allows me to reflect on the temporary nature of the human condition and apply it to various project typologies. I specifically remember this quote when tackling a strenuous project dilemma.