NOMA Legacy Headquarters + Resource Campus

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THE CHALLENGE In 1971, twelve Black architects who attended the AIA National Convention in Detroit founded the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to challenge the status quo of the industry. Since that day fifty years ago, NOMA continues to empower it’s 1,400+ members in 78 professional and 75 student chapters across the country to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development, and design excellence.

With roots in Detroit, it is fitting that NOMA establish its “Legacy Headquarters + Resource Campus” here to serve the organization, its members, and the hometown community. Detroit is a place rich in history and ripe with opportunity; and as America’s first appointed UNESCO City of Design, the creative culture welcomes well designed space(s) that support the people and their environments. Detroit is home to the largest percentage of Black Americans of any U.S. city – most still living at or below the poverty line with many households having no access to clean natural resources. These conditions, combined with a prevalence of multi-generational households, single breadwinner families, and lack of access, make these communities inherently vulnerable.

From the Spanish Flu and tuberculosis to Civil Rights and American Disabilities Act, pandemics and movements have always changed the way we design, build, and live. A virus does not understand skin color. Furthermore, the clash at the intersection of Covid-19 and racism continues to be detrimental to racial and ethnic communities across the United States, especially to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) – making them more susceptible to the spread of COVID-19. We can no longer design for worlds past, but in new and sustainable ways that account for the health, safety, and welfare of the greater good.

The “Legacy Headquarters + Resource Campus” will not only serve as a valuable time capsule of Black culture’s impact on the built environment, but also an invaluable asset addressing the challenges of the marginalized community it is positioned in.

Eligible NOMAS Chapters must contact your University Liaison for the Competition Brief.

Northeast: Melanie Ray, NOMA, AIA, LEED Green Associate, NCARB

Midwest: Andreea Vasile-Hoxa, Assoc. AIA, Assoc. ASLA, NOMA

South: Atianna Cordova, NOMA, AIA

West: Jamilla Afandi, NOMA Associate AIA