Today I drew a floor plan, and that was definitely an exception to what normally fills my days. Drawing, modeling, and solving math problems are common conceptions of what architects do (disclaimer: I am not quite an “architect”, but I am getting close). Though the math problems are much simpler than most people imagine (eg: 24 users divided by 1 shower stall per 8 users = 3 showers), creating 2 and 3 dimensional representations of proposed buildings do indeed take up the bulk of young almost-architect’s time. But once again, the daily activities of the architect are turned on their head in the community led design realm. Projects of all sizes and programs involve alternative parties, funding streams, schedules and needs when the public replaces an individual or corporation as the client. Despite this departure, it has been my experience that an architectural education prepared me primarily to be a problem solver – just the skill I need as I tackle the ever shifting requirements of a project like the Baptist Town neighborhood revitalization.
Additionally, my problem solving skills are continually increased by working in proximity with experts from diverse fields. Here in Greenwood, I am getting a behind the scenes education in terms of the legal, social work, and grant management aspects of new affordable housing development. In Cincinnati, with Village Life Outreach Project, partnerships with doctors, engineers, educators, and writers informed my thinking.
A journalism professor, counted among the unlikely professionals that I have partnered with on a design project, is currently teaching a course that will offer students the same opportunity for diverse learning that I am describing here. Along with a Humanitarian Design course taught by Michael Zaretsky, Elissa Yancey’s journalism class will travel to Tanzania over spring break. The students represent a large cross section of majors and backgrounds, and I wish them all an experience that broadens their perspectives and informs their careers.
Learn more about Elissa’s class here.