Historically Black Baltimore University Wants to Diversify Architecture

Only five percent of architecture students are black, and only 0.3 percent of licensed architects are black women.

The Peale Center. (Photograph by R. Tom)

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A new Morgan State University program, “Preservation in Practice,” aims to bring diversity to the architectural field, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The eight-week program, lead by Morgan State professor of architecture and historic preservation, Dale Green, recruited six black architecture students. Green argued the city of Baltimore does not reflect its rich and diverse history through its monuments and architecture. He cited the absence of a monument dedicated to Harriet Tubman, a Maryland native.

In its first summer, the “Preservation in Practice” program has been providing students hands-on experience in preservation. The students have visited historic sites in Baltimore and Wyoming, studied alongside architecture experts and even learned to lay bricks, the Sun reported. Most recently, the students worked at the Peale Center in downtown Baltimore, the oldest museum building in the United States.

The Peale Center reopened its cultural center in 2017 after closing in 1997 due to lack of funds. Student participants helped continue restoring the Center to its previous state through maintenance of its historic brick and mortar, and also pulling weeds, according to the Sun.

The program is a partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation had the students work with its Hands-on Preservation Experience Crew (HOPE). Monica Rhodes, the director of HOPE told the Sun: “We started HOPE to engage a large, more diverse audience in architecture trades.”

As the newspaper also noted, only five percent of architecture students are black, and only 0.3 percent of licensed architects are black women.

Morgan State University is the first HBCU (historically black college or university) to introduce the program, and program partners hope to implement it at other HBCUs.

“Historic preservation is extremely important,” said Monique Robinson, 22, a Morgan State junior. “This experience has inspired me to go find out where our history is. A lot of our history is repressed and lost. It’s ignored.”

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Brianna is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2018. She's a rising senior at Penn State University, majoring in media studies. She intends to graduate in May 2019. 

Tags: architecturebaltimorehistoric preservation

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