Wayne County Community College Curtis L Ivery Health + Wellness Center lobby
Celebrating Diversity in Architecture

Architects play a key role in shaping the built environment, and it is critical that our work reflects the diversity of the communities they serve. Diversity Month is an opportunity to recognize and embrace the differences that make each of us unique by sharing diverse voices and perspectives. In the architecture industry, it provides a platform to showcase the contributions of diverse architects, highlight the importance of inclusive design, and explore the significance of diversity in architecture. 

Navaneetha Krishna Vatikundala headshot photo
Navaneetha Krishna Vattikundala
Specifications Intern
“My name is Navaneetha Krishna Vattikundala, a not so uncommon name for a Dravidian male such as myself, but one that's unorthodox for most of us raised in North America. So, like many other first-generation immigrants I now go by Nav, to adapt to the simplicity of western naming conventions. While I may have been born in India, my family and I moved to and have been living in Canada since I was 3 years old, so my identity as a Canadian far exceeds that of my Indian origin.

The most important thing I've learned was not something that I was ever taught, but rather something I had to come to terms with on my own. The sad reality of the world is that people have inherent biases. Indicative of that, the task of trying to break people's preconceived conceptions falls on the individual. As such, it is up to us to make a name for ourselves, to stand out, to make ourselves unique despite our race, skin color, or orientation, and all the prejudice that may come along with it. Find a niche or hone your focus on something you know can do that others can't.”

Diversity in Architecture

Diversity in architecture refers to the representation of different people, experiences, and perspectives in the industry. It encompasses differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, and socio-economic background, among others. Diversity in the industry serves many benefits to the user, client, and design team:

  • Improved Decision-Making / Diverse teams can arrive at a more comprehensive and well-rounded decision-making process by considering multiple viewpoints.
  • Enhanced Creativity / A diverse group of architects can bring a range of perspectives to a project, leading to more creative and innovative solutions. 
  • Better Client Representation / A diverse architecture industry allows for better representation of clients, who come from different backgrounds and have unique needs.
  • Greater Social Awareness / By promoting diversity, architects can become more aware of social issues and engage with communities in more meaningful ways. 
Beverly Hannah-Jones
Beverly Hannah Jones
Managing Parter, Hannah-Neumann/Smith
“I am inspired by my ancestors and the tumultuous journey of the African in America. My grandfather who was an entrepreneur in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1930’s has always been my inspiration. The fact that he built successful businesses during those challenging years is beyond amazing. Professionals and tradespeople in Detroit worked together in support of each other toward the success of the whole community.

Diversity in thought, experience, and knowledge is critical in the architectural industry. Creative input from a variety of cultures and genders results in the best design solutions as we envision environments for living, working and entertainment.”

The architecture industry has historically struggled with diversity, with many barriers to entry for marginalized communities. Celebrating Diversity Month provides an opportunity to recognize the value of diverse perspectives and highlight the contributions of underrepresented groups in the industry. It also serves as a platform to address challenges and promote inclusion. 

Embracing Diversity with Inclusive Design 

Inclusive design is an approach that considers the diverse needs and experiences of users, including those with disabilities or from marginalized communities. Client representation is crucial in including diverse perspectives in the design process. By incorporating inclusive design principles, we can create spaces that are welcoming and accessible to all. 

Liz Kempa
Liz Kempa, RA
Project Architect
“The Holocaust serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to embrace diversity and inclusion. My paternal family, who resided in Poland during WWII, experienced firsthand the devastating impact of this tragedy. As a member of the team responsible for curating a powerful collection that will be shared with future generations at The Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, I am filled with pride. Contributing to a project of such profound meaning and purpose is a true honor.”
Zekelman Holocaust Center
The Zekelman Holocaust Center 

The Zekelman Holocaust Center has made great strides in promoting inclusivity and diversity in its mission to educate the public about the atrocities of the Holocaust. The Center’s commitment to inclusivity is reflected in its outreach efforts to communities with diverse backgrounds, such as students of varying ages, religious affiliations, and ethnicities. Through partnerships with schools and community groups, the center offers educational opportunities that encourage open dialogue and foster a deeper understanding of historical events. Inclusivity is also evident in exhibits that showcase diverse voices, including those of women and LGBTQIA+ individuals who were targeted during the Holocaust. By recognizing these important perspectives, the center ensures that all visitors have an opportunity to connect with the experiences of those impacted by genocide regardless of their identity or background.

We are proud to partner with The Zekelman Holocaust Center and the project team— Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Sachse Construction, and Design and Production Incorporated—to bring new accessible, interactive, and educational galleries to the museum.

Curtis L. Ivery Health and Wellness Education Center
Curtis L. Ivery Health + Wellness Education Center

Situated on Wayne County Community College campus in Downtown Detroit, the Curtis L. Ivery Wellness Education Center is a highly regarded facility that strives to promote wellness and inclusivity through education and services. Its mission is to promote health awareness, provide resources, and offer educational programs that inspire individuals to live a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, it provides community services such as free health screenings and outreach programs that aim to improve the overall health and wellness of the public. With its comprehensive approach to holistic health education and affordable membership fees, the Curtis L. Ivery Health and Wellness Education Center serves as an excellent resource for anyone looking to achieve physical fitness goals while also taking care of their mental well-being.

Shaping the Future of Architecture 

Making lasting changes in the architecture industry requires a sustained, collective effort from architects, educators, and industry leaders. We can take action by engaging with diverse communities, seeking out diverse perspectives, and advocating for more diverse representation in leadership positions.  

By prioritizing diversity and promoting a culture of inclusion, the architecture industry can create spaces that are truly representative of diverse communities and cultures.  

Celebrating Diversity Month is an essential step towards creating a more inclusive architecture industry. By embracing diversity, architects can gain new perspectives, create innovative designs, and better serve their clients and communities. We are committed to continuing to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry in hopes of making lasting changes that will benefit our profession and society as a whole. 

Empowered Women

Celebrating the remarkable influence of our female architects, interior designers, and support staff this International Women's Day.

Celebrating Diversity in Architecture

Architects play a key role in shaping the built environment, and it is critical that our work reflects the diversity of the communities they serve. Diversity Month is an opportunity to recognize and embrace the differences that make each of us unique. In the architecture industry, it provides a platform to showcase the contributions of diverse architects, highlight the importance of inclusive design, and explore the significance of diversity in architecture. 

Empowered Women

In recognition of International Women’s Day, Neumann/Smith is celebrating the incredible achievements of women in the architecture field throughout history and in our firm.

Design Story

In this workplace environment study our design team blends hospitality and workplace to create an immersive experience. The design story begins with the idea of Elevating the Everyday—inspired by natural elements, layering on luxury, and activating all the senses.

Detroit / Historic Preservation

Within its unique restoration, the 100-year old historical building blends co-working spaces with private offices, common areas with conference rooms, all while offering direct access to the heart of downtown’s renaissance without a costly investment by tenants.

DBusiness Detroit 500 / Joel Smith

Joel Smith was recently featured in DBusiness Magazine's The Detroit 500—a list of the most powerful business leaders in metro Detroit—for the fifth consecutive year. Noted among leaders in over 30 industries, Joel is praised for establishing N/S as "one of Michigan's largest and most distinguished design firms" as well as being at the forefront of Detroit's revitalization.

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