Students Want You to Watch Your Words, Even After Black History Month Ends

Noticing ways the practice perpetuates racism, University of Syracuse students drafted a glossary of loaded architectural language.
NOMAS

Lia Margolis (above, right) and Ebonia Moody (above, left) are president and vice president of the Syracuse University School of Architecture’s NOMAS chapter. Together with the rest of the chapters’ leadership, they devised a gameshow-style quiz to share antiracist insights about industry terms and architectural language as part of their Black history month programming. Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

More than 155 years after the abolition of slavery, American architects and designers are still using the term “master” to label bedrooms in floor plans, and occasionally pitching clients a “plantation style.” But the careless normalization of such loaded architectural language may change with a new generation of A&D professionals. In fact, a student chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture has produced a glossary of such terms’ racist origins in hopes of curbing their use. Definitions and insights, researched by the group’s secretary Sofia Gutierrez and design team chair Grace Rankin, were revealed in episodes of a Black History Month gameshow titled “Black Jeopardy,” which students have been hosting over Zoom calls throughout February. Additional quizzes on African-American communities, art, and culture are also being promoted via the group’s Instagram handle along with other programming such as a lecture by Syracuse professor and architect Sekou Cooke. Metropolis asked the students to share the outtakes from the eye-opening glossary of racist architectural language here.

architectural language

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

 

 

 

 

glossary

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

architectural language

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

glossary

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

NOMAS

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

architectural language

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

NOMAS

Courtesy of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).

 

Met Kbisproducts Webstory

The leadership behind the award-winning NOMA Syracuse chapter: Margolis; Moody; Sofia Gutierrez, secretary (and researcher on the racist architectural terms project); communications co-chairs Kaitlyn Schwalber and Rachel Ly; and design team chair Grace Rankin. Additional organizers of NOMA Syracuse Black History Month programs: co-chairs Janani Suriyanarayanan and Arjun Patel; and curators Benson Joseph and Pin Sangkaeo; and membership co-chairs Emanuelle Amina Kikaya and Kyra Brown and committee chair Indra Prasasto.   Courtesy of NOMAS.

 

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Categories: Architecture, Design Education