April 30, 2021
by: Tiara Hughes, NOMA

This month NOMA National recognizes our University of Illinois Urbana Champaign NOMAS Chapter for furthering the NOMA Mission through their lens. They understand that NOMA empowers minority students across the country with a pipeline to the profession and a platform to explore their own interests. In addition to serving as a voice for justice of minority students, UIUC NOMAS put on a successful NOMAS Symposium centered around African Art and Architecture. They took advantage of the expanded reach we have now as professionals in our digital world and brought international speakers from all of all over. All of the featured professionals presented great architecture they have done or reference in their studies. The symposium was rich in content and serves as a great example of stepping outside the box to explore your interests as students which NOMA National supports.

Tiara Hughes: How does it feel to be selected as a featured NOMA Spotlight?

Musa Muhammad (President) and Udo Anidobu (Vice President): We would not be here without the hard work our NOMA family has done across the country, so it is an honor to be spotlighted by NOMA National for the work we have been blessed to do. We hope to be able to continue this work and inspire others to radically change their environment for the benefit of all.

TH: What is the plan moving forward to keep the momentum going?

MM & UA: Our focus for NOMAS this year was centered on improving the student experience in the School of Architecture. We began the year by presenting a list of goals and demands to some faculty members. This list focused largely on creating a more equitable and empathic social environment for all members of the academic community, diversifying the curriculum and decentering Eurocentric architectural pedagogy, and increasing student participation within and outside of the School of Architecture. What started as informal meetings between a handful of interested faculty and students turned into a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force to begin carrying out the goals and demands we set forth. With the immense help and support of the Director and other faculty, we were able to have courses offered this year that specifically explored architecture and colonialism as they relate to Black people, a studio and project set in Nigeria, and Professor Mark Raymond, Architect and Director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, as our distinguished Plym Professor for Spring 2021. Our VP, Udo Anidobu, now serves as one of the student representatives on the curriculum committee to aid in our efforts to diversify the curriculum. We also continue to work closely with the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art to expand and diversify the library’s resources to include marginalized cultures, regions, designers, thinkers, etc. On April 3rd, we hosted a completely virtual African Art & Architecture Exhibit for our annual NOMAS Symposium. We had four wonderful guest presenters from around the world, each of which are doing wonderful work and research about Afrocentric architecture, and a virtual reality architecture exhibit that showcased a selection of Afrocentric projects from throughout the African Diaspora.