The Architect’s Newspaper: Designing for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The Architect’s Newspaper, outlines the opportunities and challenges of designing for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
“Since 1985, Moody Nolan has completed more than 70 projects on 32 campuses across the country.
After working extensively, but not exclusively, on these campuses for over 30 years, Moody Nolan’s Cincinnati office started an HBCU committee in 2019 to explore relationships and methods of support; now its members can be found at all of the company’s 12 locations. Director of business development for HBCU projects Vincent O. Terry told AN about the importance of a Black-owned firm engaging in culturally relevant projects like HBCUs: “The freedom to share what you’re feeling as the end user and ask questions without intimidation is best handled by Black architects. When working with these HBCU campuses there is nothing like having that trust, and it’s important to hire people who look like you so you can have those heart-to-heart discussions. This is an essential reason why we created an HBCU committee.”
Working on HBCU campuses does present design challenges, as their development is often stunted by a lack of funding and prominence when compared to institutions with predominantly white student populations. Some of these obstacles are spatial: for example, many entities own large amounts of land that has gone undeveloped, resulting in sprawling or disjointed facilities. Others are financial: A lack of funding means that any project built on the campus has to pack as much impact as possible. Moody Nolan approaches these general concerns as design considerations and aims to increase density on campuses while layering a variety of programs into buildings when possible.”