Volunteers from the AIA DC EAC, Women in Architecture College Park and emerging Architects from various local firms including Bonstra|haresign ARCHITECTS spent the day with ten (10) girls from My Girlfriend’s House inc. As a part of the EAC’s outreach efforts for this year, this event, Shaping Your Environment, was organized. The purpose of the event was to introduce local young women, predominantly African American, to the field of Architecture and its related fields, where women and specifically African American women are underrepresented. The girls ranged in age from eleven to sixteen years old.
The day started with two (2) construction tours of multi-family residential buildings designed by Bonstra|Haresign ARCHITECTS, Carver and Slowe Halls. The Project Architect for the two (2) projects is a leading woman in Architecture, Liz Duray, AIA. Liz, started the tour with a brief history of the projects, which are 75-year old dormitories that have been converted into modern day apartment buildings. Liz, then led the girls through various units and common spaces, all the while fielding several questions from the girls who were extremely engaged. The most common questions were about rental costs and the size of the units.
Following the tour, the girls and the volunteer Architects retreated to Bonstra|Haresign ARCHITECTS’ office for an office tour, lunch and discussions. The discussions led by the volunteers and Veronica Eyenga, Executive Director for My Girlfriend’s House Inc., were focused on why young women should consider Architecture as a career, what are the challenges involved as a women, the benefits of being in the profession, the process to become an architect and other topics that led to a healthy 45 minute discussion.
To wrap up the day, the girls were given a design task – design your ideal apartment unit or house. They were given trace paper, gridded paper, blank paper, and scaled cut-outs of doors, windows, and apartment furniture. The girls eagerly undertook the design task and were not shy in presenting their visions of their ideal living environment. It was fantastic.
In the end, everyone left satisfied. The girls, were very grateful for our outreach efforts, and excited about the profession. Veronica let us know that the girls talked about their designs and the tour for their entire bus ride home. The AIA DC Emerging Architects Committee looks forward to several future opportunities to work with My Girlfriend’s House Inc.