PASCALE SABLAN, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP
SAY IT LOUD - A'18
SAY IT LOUD - A'19
SAY IT LOUD - United Nations
SAY IT LOUD - United Nations World Wide
SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC Exhibitor
New York Based Designer
How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?
I was blessed with the opportunity to travel abroad quite frequently during my childhood. I observed that architecture can be a direct interpretation of culture, or in some cases, a particular family.
The great architect, Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Associate at Adjaye Associates, with over 14 years of experience, has been on the team for a variety of projects around the world. She studied Architecture at Pratt Institute, then pursued a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University. Pascale is the 315th living African-American, woman registered architect in the U.S. She is an activist architect who works to advance architecture for the betterment of society, bring visibility and voice to the issues concerning women and BIPOC designers. She founded the Beyond the Built Environment organization positioned to uniquely address the inequitable disparities in architecture. Pascale was awarded the 2021 AIA Whitney M. Young. Jr Award for her advocacy efforts and ascended to the AIA College of Fellows, the youngest African American to reach that honor. In 2020 Pascale was voted President-Elect of the National Organization of Minority Architecture, the 5th woman to hold this position of leadership.
How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that built environment profession was an area of interest for you?
I was blessed with the opportunity to travel abroad quite frequently during my childhood. I observed that architecture can be a direct interpretation of culture, or in some cases, a particular family. What I understood “home” to be in the U.S. was very different in another country. The idea that you can make a tailored space sparked my creativity and imagination. “An architect!” was always my answer when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. While pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture at Pratt Institute, I developed my voice; I learned how to defend both my designs and my design process. It was also where I developed my drawing skills, since I did hand drafting and model making (it was common to find me covered in sawdust from working with my hands in the woodshop). More importantly, I was introduced to a collaborative working process. Late at night in the studio, after the professors went home, all of the students would get together to share their ideas and knowledge.
After graduating from Pratt, I pursued a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University where I developed my advocacy voice–defending my design ideas and implementing holistic design visions for the built environment. I developed my point-of-view on what I wanted to see in the world and how I could use my designs to implement change. I also began experimenting with technology in the design process. Recently, I’ve been lecturing on how to manipulate technology to direct the design process.
What excites you in the work you do?
What I enjoy the most about my job is the collaboration with my peers. In addition I am always surprised by how quickly architectural practice evolves. Developing new ideas and the pace at which architecture changes is the most exciting part of the profession. As with technology, it is impossible to predict what will happen in 10 years. We currently invest a lot of time and effort toward environmental sustainability, and it would be great to invest more in social sustainability, in pushing the idea of building society. That change in focus could impact architecture and the tools we use. Technology will continue to evolve, making it even easier for us to articulate our ideas and execute design. Sometimes the most interesting, intriguing architecture is not just the singular project, but how it integrates into the community. Interstitial ideas, moments for collaboration, imagination, and spark are what makes architecture profound to me.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement?
I am the 315th African American female architect in the United States to attain my architectural license. As of 2016, there are only 349 women who hold this distinction.
Object Five - Alternative career, volunteer work with organizations not directly connected with the built environment, or service to society
Year of Elevation:
Featured Project Name:
Cleveland Foundation Headquarters
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Featured Project Description:
The foundation has launched a design and planning phase to envision a headquarters that harmonizes with the community, and embodies a place-based mission that launched a global philanthropic movement more than a century ago. Co-designed by residents and local partners, developments to the district will preserve and enhance the neighborhood’s natural environment, social connections and diverse economic opportunities.