Wave of the Future 2023: Pascale Sablan

Pascale Sablan
As NOMA’s global president and associate principal at Adjaye Associates, Sablan endeavors to make the world more equitable

By Alissa Ponchione

Growing up in Cambria Heights, Queens with her 10 siblings, Pascale Sablan found a love for architecture at an early age. Her passion led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York followed by a master’s in advanced architectural design from Columbia University. As an activist architect, she is especially sensitive to how her work impacts the community. Additionally, Sablan continues to advocate for change as the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) global president, where her mission is to eradicate racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression from the built environment.

When did you know you wanted to become an architect?
Pascale Sablan: When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was [asked] to do a mural at the Pomonok Community Center in Queens [by my camp counselor because I was always playing with art supplies], and I decided to do a jungle gym with a multicultural community. While I was drawing my structure, somebody walked by and said, ‘You can draw straight lines without a ruler. That’s a great skill for an architect to have.’ It was the first time that profession was offered to me as an idea, and it felt like a perfect fit.

What did you learn from your first design-related job?
PS: When I was a third year, my first internship was at AARIS Design Architects in Manhattan. One of the first projects I participated on was going to the different [New York City] boroughs and presenting our design ideas. There were four other designers there, and the community had to vote on which one was their favorite. I saw the power of community and the power of language.