By John J. Clark, AIA, NCARB
Own your story
Over the past year, I made a focused effort to rediscover my original passion for architecture, design, and problem solving. The stress put on our country and communities demonstrated the need for action, and the pandemic lockdowns early in the year provided the time and opportunity. In this journey, the best piece of advice I received was to channel my story. Instead of continuing to make excuses for my inaction or continuing to ask “how can I help,” reflecting on my background brought the clarity needed to set new goals for my career and impact through design.
I had considered a career for social impact, yet I had been studying real estate development for over two years. I recognized my passion for a holistic, multidisciplinary process driven by a strong vision. I knew the importance of engaging communities that do not always have a seat at the design table and being a trusted advocate for a project’s end users. Ultimately I also acknowledged where I came from — raised by a single mother in low-income housing — and how that background drove me into a design career. By owning my story, it allows me to share a unique perspective to help effect change, and it has also brought a career path in affordable housing into focus.
Each article and perspective in these two EDI issues is driven by a young architect who has also channeled their story, found their passion, and acted for change. This includes Smitha Vasan, I-NOMA president, who focused on elevating the stories of the past generation to help inspire the work of future generations (Page 10). Reflecting on his path into architecture, Beresford Pratt’s passion for influencing the next generation of minority architects led him to participate in Ayers Saint Gross ‘Careers in Design Seminar’ for K-12 students in Baltimore (Page 12). Additionally, GastingerWalker’s Samantha McCloud reflects on her multicultural family and passion for thoughtful and optimistic design. This has led to opportunities as a speaker, community builder, and a role as her firm’s director of community involvement, diversity, and inclusion (Page 40).
Our team encourages you to take time to reflect on your story and passion. Why did you become an architect? Does your career, firm, or volunteer role support this answer? The pandemic provides a great opportunity to ask these questions. Our profession and our communities will be better off if you can.
John J. Clark, AIA, NCARB
Editor in chief
Clark is an architect with RMKM Architecture in Albuquerque, N.Mex. Clark is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and is the 2019-20 Communications Director for the AIA National’s Young Architects Forum.