December 8, 2020 by LAM staff
A summer of collective soul-searching into the systemic nature of racism in America has spurred new investments in the education of young creators of color. Among them is the new Hollander Design Fellowship, an annual academic scholarship of $ 4,000 available to students enrolled in the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College of New York.
Created in August 2020, the new scholarship will be awarded to three graduate students per year for each year of enrollment, for an annual total of $ 12,000. It is available to MLA applicants who identify as Black or African American, Latinx, Alaskan or American Indian, or as a member of another cultural or ethnic group under-represented in architecture. landscape, including the LGBTQ community. The first three recipients, Miguelina Portorreal (class of 2021), Jeana Fletcher, ASLA student (2022) and Mathew Brown Velasquez (2023), were announced in October. Three other students received a one-time Hollander Design Award of $ 4,000. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, director of the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture at City College, said the smaller award was created to meet the large number of high-quality applications received by the school.
Ed Hollander, FASLA, president and co-founder of Hollander Design Landscape Architects, says the scholarship grew out of office-wide conversations after the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed. “There was a day when all designers put a black page on Instagram, and I just said, ‘That doesn’t make sense,’” he says. A scholarship appealed to Hollander for two reasons. First, he says, City College is “eternally underfunded” and second, he believes that “long term solutions are based on education.”
The scholarship comes at an eventful time for the Spitzer School of Architecture. In October, Lesley Lokko resigned her post as dean after less than a year in that post. In a statement, Lokko, a black female architect and educator, and most recently director of the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture, called her decision to resign a “profound act of self-preservation,” citing a “lack of respect and empathy for black people, especially black women,” in the United States.
City College president Vince Boudreau said in a statement that Lokko’s vision was “broad and ambitious and required a series of sweeping changes to the current curriculum. … We would have been delighted if she had been able to make these changes successful, but we accepted her resignation with deep regret.
Seavitt Nordenson says Lokko’s departure is disappointing. But she’s encouraged to see companies like Hollander Design investing in landscape architecture training for under-represented students in the profession. She says the speed with which the scholarship was established, combined with the size of the award (paying over a third of City College’s annual tuition fees), is a demonstration of Hollander Design’s commitment to doing ” something that was achievable, had credibility, and would be meaningful in the lives of students for years to come.
The scholarship is in addition to several new or recent scholarships aimed at supporting students of color design. In 2018, SmithGroup launched the SmithGroup Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship, which offers a one-time scholarship of $ 6,000 to up to five minority students enrolled in accredited architecture, design, or interior, urban planning, landscape architecture or engineering. In September 2020, the SOM Foundation announced a $ 10,000 university scholarship for Black, Indigenous and Colored (BIPOC) students studying architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, or engineering. Three prizes will be awarded each year.
Seavitt Nordenson says she hopes more businesses will follow suit. “I would love to see that become an imitator,” she says. “We could use this kind of fellowship more. “