SoCal NOMA Summer Camp Inspires Minority Students

August 15, 2018

Annual architecture and engineering program is created to equip, empower, and educate youth

The Southern California Chapter of the National Organization of Architects’ (SoCal NOMA’s) 9th Annual Architecture & Engineering Summer Camp, held on consecutive Saturdays July 14th, 21st, and 28th, concluded Saturday, August 4th, with a sponsor expo, camper presentations and awards ceremony held at Sci-Arc where the collective work of the 2018 campers was on display.

The SoCal NOMA summer camp engages youth, with a focus on African-American (and other minorities) in the process and impact of architectural design. The Southern California chapter – SoCal NOMA – lets middle-school students create architectural design projects at the camp. It also furthers NOMA’s Project Pipeline program: Exposing African American students to the architecture profession and eventually increasing the number of African-American licensed architects. Currently, African-American architects comprise merely 1.5% of all licensed architects in the United States.  SoCal NOMA’s members and sponsors contribute volunteer hours and funds to erode one of the biggest impediments to working in design professions for African-American and other minority students: limited to non-existent exposure to the field of architecture and engineering.

KTGY Architecture + Planning was one of the major program sponsors this year, and for KTGY Job Captain and SoCal NOMA Executive Board Member, Janiece Williams, this is her fifth year volunteering for the program. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Howard University in 2010. KTGY staff members Arthur Zohrabians, Liz Vento and Josh Rivera also volunteered, along with other industry leaders in architecture, engineering, urban planning and interior design.

SoCal NOMA Executive Board Member and KTGY Job Captain Janiece Williams

“Middle school can be a turning point in a student’s performance and aspirations.” says Williams. “We start by establishing an understanding of the built environment surrounding them, including their own communities. We begin with describing architecture and design by putting it into the context of things they can relate to, such their own homes or their parents’ places of work. This is something they quickly understand and it catapults them into learning the material.”

The camp teaches the basics of architectural design, including mapping, site investigation, sketching, scaled drawings, model-making, sustainability, and presentation skills. On a more fundamental level, students receive a stronger understanding of how to create positive changes in the built environment in their own communities.

Williams continued, “We challenged the campers with designing the neighborhood around the new Los Angeles NFL Stadium at Hollywood Park.  We had the opportunity to tour the official L.A. Stadium Premiere Center in Playa Vista, where the Wilson Meany development team gave a wonderful presentation of the phased development.”

“This year’s curriculum also included our official ‘NOMA City Building Department’ for the campers to get their site plans approved before they could build models.  Campers really engaged and took the Building Department component very seriously,” Williams said.

The ultimate goal is to have the students matriculate to college as architecture majors and increase the number of licensed architects of color. SoCal NOMA has had success with several students coming up through Project Pipeline– starting out in the summer camp – and now pursuing architecture.

“There is a continuous effort to provide mentorship to these talented individuals throughout the school year with job shadowing programs, and newly created partnerships with architecture schools to help foster their interest in the profession,” said Williams.

In a thank you to the volunteers, American Institute of Architects Chapter President Lance A. Collins, AIA, stated, “It is because of you that we were able to have an outstanding summer camp to expose over 100 kids to the careers of architecture, engineering, and urban planning. Your sponsorship played a critical role in what we hope will be a milestone in these young students’ lives as they consider their future educational paths and career opportunities.”

In addition to KTGY, SoCal NOMA’s 9th annual Summer Camp sponsors include ZGF, Cuningham Group, HED, Los Angeles LDC, CO Architects, HansonLA, Egan/Simon Architects, Kiewit, Partner Energy, Stantec, Retail Design Collaborative, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, LnD Companies, Inc., Abramson Teiger, Raw International, 7evenstudios.

SoCal NOMA Executive Board Member and KTGY Job Captain Janiece Williams.