Part of our 2021 Black History Month series “9 Designers Reflect on the Past, Present & Future of Black History in Architecture“
Yomi Adeyemi, an architectural designer who has been with ZGF for two years in our Seattle office, reflects on what led him to be an architect and imagines a more equitable future.
I was always a creative kid. I remember doing a seventh-grade book report on the Eiffel Tower accompanied by a drawing. I thought my sketch was awful, but my dad thought it was great. As a civil engineer who had taken some drafting classes in college, he was able to identify things in me based on that creativity before I even knew what those things were. I attribute that identification early on to where I am today as a professional.
Since starting my professional career at ZGF, I’ve been fortunate to be part of exciting projects like the AMLI Arc Residential Tower, The Spark: Academic Innovation Hub at my alma mater Washington State University, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion. These are just a few of the projects that stand out to me as pivotal in my career development.
Along the way, there certainly have been uncomfortable or challenging moments in this profession as well, and at times I’ve thought to myself, “Oh boy, what did I get myself into?” Then I have moments where I think of trailblazers from the past like Norma Merrick Sklarek, who was a first in so many ways; trailblazers of the present like David Adjaye and Camilla Watson; and trailblazers of the future like the kids I mentor through the ACE mentorship program. Reflecting on these individuals makes those challenging moments more bearable. Representation certainly matters, and I recognize that things are easier for me today because of all those incredible people before me who had to fight a little harder just to be able to do something they love. My only hope is that I can be that person for those kids, who look like me, that are currently writing their book reports on the Eiffel Tower.
Read more stories from this series here.