AIA’s HBCU Internship Program: Empowering future architects
A new video chronicling the summer internship program highlights the importance of agency.
“The question is not: ‘How do we get more people in [to the industry]?’ It’s: ‘Why aren’t there people in? How do we facilitate that process?’,” says Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye in a new video about the development and impact of the AIA’s HBCU Internship program.
The program’s inaugural session took place in the summer of 2021. AIA engaged with the architecture programs at the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to offer a virtual internship for six students. The hybrid internship, workshop, and seminar focused on the design phase of AIA’s national headquarters renewal, which is being led by San Francisco- and Seattle-based EHDD.
Centering the program on students from HBCUs is aligned with the AIA’s commitment to supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion; to ensure a more diverse and equitable profession, it is critical to ensure diversity in the pipeline of architecture students and to make sure all students have opportunities to thrive. “We need, as architects, to reflect the culture and the people that we work with,” says Robert Ivy, FAIA, former EVP/CEO of AIA.
Following a curriculum developed by members of the design team at EHDD—including Moultrie Day, Doris Guerrero, AIA, NOMA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, and Conor Dunn, AIA—the students were invited to the table to actively take part in developing a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive design plan for the campus. From April to August 2021, they participated in six workshops with members of the entire project team, which also includes Hood Design Studio, Hartman-Cox Architects, Point Energy Innovations, and Turner Construction. Between sessions, students worked on their own responses to the problems posed in the workshops; these ideas helped inform the design of the headquarters renewal as it was taking shape.
“The greatest thing that the students would take away from this whole process would be that they feel like they have agency over their built environment. This AIA project is really about setting a new standard.” – Moultrie Daye
That sense of agency made an impact. “Even though we are the students, I think everybody is a student, and we all have something to learn from each other. So I really value that we were given a place and a space to speak” says Adia Joseph, an intern from Howard University. Her fellow intern Rahmah Omar Davis from Morgan State University adds, “I think really just sitting at the table really allowed my voice to be heard.”
“My favorite moment is when one of the students asked Robert Ivy, FAIA: ‘So how do you become the CEO of the AIA?’,” EHDD’s Guerrero says in the video. “And I realized the students aren’t just looking for a typical internship; they are looking for opportunities for leadership.”
AIA is making this virtual internship program an example for other firms to emulate. AIA’s goal is to improve the diversity of the profession through increased engagement, broader network support, and access to employment opportunities for future architecture graduates. To learn more about implementing a similar internship program at your firm, please email AIA at firstname.lastname@example.org