Architectural Design Program being Developed at NCCU

Posted February 22, 2024, 3:21PM

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is developing a pre-architecture degree program, the first at a historically Black university in North Carolina.

“It is the mother of all arts and allows students to do a myriad of professions and careers,” said Associate Professor Scott Singeisen, M.Arch, who is NCCU’s first hire in architecture. Singeisen formerly served as the chair of the Architecture Department at Savannah College of Art and Design, where he worked as a professor for over twenty years.

The idea for a degree program came from Brenda Faison, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Art & Design and director of the NCCU Art Museum. About two years ago the department was revising its curriculum and sought to introduce architecture.

“In the state of North Carolina, there is no way for those who want to study at HBCUs to study architectural design,” Faison said. She notes that NC A & T offers an architectural engineering degree.

“The goal is to bring in students who wouldn’t normally come to NCCU and this department,” Faison said.

Black architects are underrepresented in the profession. As of 2022, there were 121,603 architects working in the United States. Of those, only 2% are Black, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. And fewer than one half of one percent of all U.S. architects are Black women.

In fall 2023, Singeisen began teaching architecture to three students on an independent study basis.

Among them is sophomore Zamir Vazquez. In his independent study with Singeisen, he recently studied Louis Kahn by recreating floor plans, elevations and facades of the Fisher Residence. Vazquez said he would “undoubtedly major” in a bachelor’s degree program in architecture.

During spring 2024 semester, the university will offer two courses: Digital Representation for Architecture and Fundamentals of Structures and Materials.

As new students are recruited, NCCU will offer more classes with a goal of moving from a concentration or minor in architecture to a four-year degree program. A curriculum has been approved.

Faison hopes that in five to ten years, the bachelor’s degree program will be fully functioning.

To recruit students, Faison plans to reach out to high schools in North Carolina that offer art and design courses and community colleges.

She would also like to create dual-degree programs with accredited schools of architecture where NCCU graduates can complete a fifth year or a master’s degree.

Dean Carlton Wilson, Ph.D., of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, thinks the degree program has potential.

“Graduate schools in architecture around the country are looking for African American students for their programs,” said Wilson. “Architecture firms are looking for African American architects for their businesses.”

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