Melanie Ray: Newly Licensed
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After exactly one year of testing, Melanie Ray has completed her examinations and internship development hours to become one of the just over 400 black women architects in the country. Originally from Jersey City, NJ, Melanie obtained her license in the District of Columbia, a city that she has known since moving to Maryland in 2000. After matriculating through the Prince George’s County Public School System, she attended Penn State where she earned a Bachelors of Architecture degree with honors in 2015 with a minor in Geography. While in school, she reinstated the Penn State NOMAS chapter after attending the 2012 NOMA conference in Detroit and meeting a profound number of architects with varying levels of expertise, experiences, and methods of practice, and ALL architects of color.

Melanie was exposed to the profession early on in her life, experiencing first hand the architectural practice of her father, who is licensed in New Jersey. He created a studio in the basement their Orange, NJ home, and she still remembers the stacks of drawing sets that dominated the room. However, it was not until her junior year of high school that she rediscovered architecture as a way to balance her interests in math, physics, art, and public policy. Her first internship was at a DC-based real estate development firm, where she was introduced to the impact of real estate and urban planning on housing typologies and communities. That experience crafted her desire to work on projects that directly influence the urban spaces that humans thrive and interact in, while at the same time are conscience to the communities around them.

Today, she works in Baltimore as an architect in the Housing & Mixed-Use studio for Hord Coplan Macht, an interdisciplinary firm in the fields of architecture, planning, landscape architecture and interiors. She has worked on projects ranging from 11-story concrete high-rises in the heart of the city to adaptive reuse apartments that transform waterfronts, but she still finds the biggest reward in community outreach projects. This year, in addition to obtaining her license, she was a founding member of the Baltimore chapter of NOMA, Bmore NOMA. She looks forward to expanding her outreach through the mission and initiatives of the chapter.

While she is done with her exams, she wants to continue to help other emerging professionals get through the licensing process. Her role with NOMA has come full circle, as she is now the Northeast University Liaison and helps student members achieve the same goals she was once
working towards in school. Her biggest piece of advice to those on the track to become an architect is to never let setbacks define your career, but to focus on the achievements that come from them. Take on the challenge, realize what you could have done better, and dive right back in. A lesson she learned from her mother, time is goin to continue, but it is up to ou to keep up!