Architectural Record Interviews Incoming NOMA President Jason Pugh

Jason Pugh: Courtesy of Gensler
President Elect Pugh

by: Miriam Sitz

Chicago-based architect Jason Pugh begins his two-year term as president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) on January 1, 2021. The Denver native will be the group’s first leader who is both a licensed architect and a certified planner.

A 2005 graduate of Howard University—one of seven of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with an architecture accreditation—Pugh earned his Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University. In his day job with Gensler, he is a passionate advocate for elevating underserved communities through high-quality affordable housing and participatory design. He spoke with record by phone to discuss his goals for NOMA.

Tell me about your history with NOMA.

As an undergraduate, I helped resurrect the student chapter at Howard University and served as president. In ’07, when I moved to Chicago, NOMA was one of the first organizations that I connected with. I eventually became president of the Illinois chapter.

What has the organization meant to you as an architect and as a leader?

When I think of NOMA, I honestly just think of family. I’ve met a long list of mentors and friends through the organization, including 2019–2020 president Kimberly Dowdell, who I met at my very first conference, in 2008, and Pascale Sablan. Pascale was just voted in as president-elect, so she’ll be my successor and my right hand. Overall, NOMA offers a deep pool of people who inspire and challenge me. Seeing others excel in their own fields gives you fuel to find your own passion projects.

What are your goals as president?

Kim has done an amazing job of steering the ship during one of the most difficult moments in our country’s history, and an unprecedented one. I have some tremendously large shoes to fill. Fortunately, there has been continuous dialogue between Kim, Pascale, and me over the last year. We want to sustain the momentum of Kim’s platform, which focused on access, legacy, and leadership. Building on that great foundation, my platform will be to educate, elevate, and empower members….