#MentorMonday: Taylor Staten

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. The opinions and views expressed do not reflect those of America’s Hidden Gem(TM). They are exclusively opinions of those by whom they’re shared.

Name:

Taylor Staten

Hometown:

Chicago, IL

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

I was always good at drawing, but my sister played the Sims video game all the time when we were younger (I was about 11 or 12) and would ask me to build their houses. It was so much fun for me. 

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

To be a Black designer is to be underrepresented. And because I’m fueled by the need to make an impact, I believe I have a responsibility to contribute to a more equitable practice of architecture that creates an avenue for more Black architects and designers to enter the profession.

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

I’ve experienced racism in the form of micro-aggressions and micromanaging and have since started my own practice. Though there have been a great number of folks to support me, I believe there will always be the obstacle of racism and lack of diversity to some extent. 

Should we ignore race in this profession?

We’ve been ignoring race in this profession and pretending like White designers are the only ones worth studying and remembering. We can’t afford to continue.

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

Know that you are brilliant, that you have great ideas, and that you deserve to be in every room you enter. NEVER let anyone make you doubt your talent. 

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

I kept failing exams. I’ve failed so many but had to understand failure as an event and not label myself as a failure. Failure is not a person, but a learning experience.  

How important is representation?

Representation is everything because it helps someone else to understand to possibilities and open their world to see what they could be and do.  



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