Spotlight: The Auburn Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students
The Auburn chapter of NOMAS, the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, is back up and running after two years of quiet during the COVID-19 pandemic, and fourth year architecture student Leonard Jefferson, the group’s new president, is excited. “I want to help reestablish Auburn’s chapter as one of the best in the country,” he said. “We have a wonderful group of faculty and students, and that gives me confidence that we will represent our college well.”
NOMAS serves as a support system for underrepresented students from all majors within the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC). “We are an all-inclusive organization whose goal is to push for diversity within the design field,” Jefferson explained. “Considering that there are many systemic issues that continue to disturb the fabric of our society, it is important that everyone is included in the effort to establish a fair and equal world, no matter their race or background.”
While NOMAS does meet regularly through the year, the group’s biggest focus this fall is attending the National Organization of Minority Architects’ annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in late October and competing against other student chapters from across the country in the Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition.
The focus of the student design competition this year is a once-thriving African American neighborhood that was split in two by the construction of Interstate 40 in north Nashville. This project divided the neighborhood in half, cutting off access to parks, schools and businesses. The students must create a design solution that respects the area’s history while also revitalizing the community. Assistant Professor Mark Blumberg serves as the group’s faculty advisor.
Auburn’s NOMAS members are beginning work on their design solution and the accompanying presentation over the coming weeks. Jefferson says there is still time for students to join NOMAS before the competition, and he is specifically interested in incorporating students from across design majors. “I want to add more students who are not architecture majors,” he said. “This would not only make our team more diverse and capable but also allow us to work in a firm-like setting where we are consulting with students from other disciplines.”
Jefferson says NOMAS meetings are held in Dudley Hall on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and students from any major and any year are welcome to join. The group will have a review with Blumberg and other faculty members to gauge its progress in late September before submitting a final proposal in mid-October. Jefferson has big plans for making NOMAS as well-known as other student groups in CADC. “I believe in creating structure and in doing things the right way,” he stated. “Before I graduate, I’d like to build a framework that allows NOMAS to be a fun and successful club for years to come.”
Mark Alan Blumberg