Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design celebrates Black History Month with events

In the United States, Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February. The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and the U of A join in celebrating and recognizing the many contributions and struggles that Black and African Americans have made and endured in this nation’s history.

According to 2020 U.S. Census data, 15.7% of Arkansas’ population (with a total population of 3,011,524) identifies as Black or African American alone, while 1.27% identifies such as Black or African American and other(s). The Fay Jones School is committed to having, at a minimum, proportional representation of the state’s black or African American population within the school community. Currently in school, only 3.11% of students identify as Black or African American Alone, and 2% identify as Black or African American and Other(s).

In an even broader context, 2020 US Census data showed that the black or African American population alone (41.1 million) accounted for 12.4% of all people living in the United States. The American Society of Interior Designers reports that less than 2% of its members identify as black and only 3% of landscape architects identify as black, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, only 2% of licensed architects in the United States are black or African American.

“We know we have a long way to go and very important work to do in building a culture where everyone belongs and matters so that we can be welcoming to everyone and in doing so help to mitigate and to eradicating the lack of diversity, inclusion and equality in the design professions represented in our school,” said Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, ASLA, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of landscape architecture at Fay Jones School.” Participating in DCI-related educational opportunities, reflections and celebrations – such as Black History Month – is part of what we can do to improve ourselves. We invite all members of our school community to join in this effort.”

The U of A hosted several events celebrating Black History Month. For more information on these events, visit https://news.uark.edu/articles/58832/u-of-a-celebrating-black-history-month.

Together in design and diversity

As part of these Black History Month events, Díaz Montemayor hosted a new program focused on learning about and discussing diversity, equity and inclusion issues and opportunities as they relate to relates to the disciplines of built environment design. The program, which begins in February, is called “Ensemble DD” or Together in design and diversity. It is intended primarily for the Fay Jones School community. The format for this semester will be a two-part visit by an academic and/or a practitioner. The first visit will be a lecture introducing a topic. In this lecture, guests will assign a reading – article or book chapter – to all students, faculty, and staff in attendance. A few weeks after the introductory lecture, guests will return for a seminar-style discussion on reading.

The program will begin with a visit from Marc Miller, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Penn State University. His talk will be presented from 4 to 5 p.m., March 9, at Vol Walker Hall, followed by refreshments. The seminar discussion is scheduled for 4:00-5:00 p.m., March 30. More information about Miller can be found at arts.psu.edu/faculty/marc-miller.

The second guest this semester will be Tara Dudley, an assistant professor who teaches in the interior design and architecture programs at the University of Texas at Austin. Dudley will join the school virtually for the conference and seminar, with group meetings still being held in person at the Vol Walker Hall. His lecture will be presented from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., April 6, and the seminar will take place from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., April 20. More information about Dudley can be found at soa.utexas.edu/people/tara-dudley.

Anyone interested in participating in Together DD must register for the program and commit to attending all four events and doing the readings. To register for the program, email Gabriel Díaz Montemayor at gabrield@uark.edu by February 11.

Wallace Reed Caradine Memorial Entrance

Although officially outside the month of February, the naming ceremony and events honoring Wallace “Wali” Caradine Jr., the Fay Jones School’s first African-American graduate, will help the school maintain its commitment to a longer future. On March 10, the Fay Jones School community will come together with Caradine family members and friends to officially name the east entrance gate of Vol Walker Hall the Wallace Reed Caradine Memorial Entrance in honor of Mr. Caradine.

Caradine, who was born in 1949 and raised in West Memphis, came to the U of A to study architecture and, as the fourth of seven children and oldest boy, was the only one in her family to attend the university. In 1974 he obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture. After further training at the Construction Management Institute in Dallas, he continued to contribute to the design and construction industries.

Caradine began his career as a designer with Pat Kelley Magruder Architects in West Memphis before founding Design and Construction Associates in 1978, which has become one of the largest minority-owned contracting firms in Arkansas. He returned to his first love of architecture and design in the mid-1990s and partnered with Ron Bene Woods to form Woods Caradine Architects, a relationship that lasted over a decade. Their notable projects included two academic centers for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the expansion of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, and as associate architects for the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

Caradine has also served as a mentor to many minority construction contractors in central Arkansas, including the 1986 founding of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors. In 1998 he joined the John G. Williams Fellowship at the Fay Jones School, a group that honors the founder of the university’s architecture program, who was a dear friend and professor of Caradine, and Caradine has also been member of the university’s Central Arkansas Advisory Committee from 2009 to 2013.

Abdul J. Gaspar