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  • Todd Graves

More Minority Architects, please

Just over 1 in 5, or 22%, of architects in the USA identify as minority. While that figure represents a significant increase compared to previous years and is not far off from the US minority population as a whole, it is confined to the Asian and Hispanic or Latino communities. African Americans, however, are severely underrepresented within the architectural profession. While this segment represents 12.4% of the population overall (2020), it makes up only about 2% of registered architects and the trend remains flat! So, while white women and other minorities are making marked progress in the profession, African Americans are being left behind.

Imagine, then, when you drill down even further to see how many African American architects are professionally licensed, partners, owners, women, etc. That 2% piece of pie is reduced to fractional levels. We feel that more needs to be done on all levels to promote African Americans in the profession, from removing barriers to education, jobs, professional development, and business opportunities for those who are pursuing a career in architecture.

For going on 35 years, Graves Design Group stands out as the oldest and largest (and sometimes only) African American-owned architectural firm in the Pittsburgh Metro area. Founding member, Howard K. Graves, Jr. is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University, one of the premiere schools for architecture in the country. Since its inception, our firm has served as an unofficial beacon for minority architects seeking to get an opportunity in the profession, some of which have later gone on to work at other firms or started their own.

Javier Garcia, Jr Project Manager at Graves Design Group, was a 2021 recipient of The MAPS Scholarship; an award of financial aid for a high school student, college student, or professional in the Pittsburgh region to be used for educational advancement for minority designers and communities in transition. Mr. Garcia is studying for the professional exams and this scholarship will help pay some of the associated expenses. MAPS will soon announce their 2022 winners! We are thankful for organizations like this who recognize the disparity in the architectural profession and finding ways to help minorities overcome obstacles to achieve professional goals.

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