An Interview with Omar Bailey, NOMA Arizona President

Submitted by ec667cd3-27d4-… on Mon, 02/26/2024 - 20:29
{"version":"0.3.0","atoms":[],"cards":[["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1708979289\/hulqhcsv2sezj4g6tilc.jpg","id":"6721703"}],"caption":"Rendering of Moontower, now completed near Roosevelt Row."}]],"markups":[["b"]],"sections":[[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"Omar Bailey, AIA, NOMA, Senior Architect, Associate at\nShepley Bulfinch in Phoenix, has begun a two-year term as the 2024-2025\npresident of the Arizona chapter of the National Organization of Minority\nArchitects (NOMA). He succeeds Maurita Harris, AIA, NOMA, who is now Past\nPresident. Bailey has been with Shepley Bulfinch in Phoenix for nearly five\nyears after extensive experience in practice in both Chicago and San Francisco.\nA native of Brooklyn, Omar earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from\nVirginia Tech. In this interview, Bailey describes his early inspiration, his\ncurrent work, his outlook on leading NOMA Arizona, and describes the influence\nof his mentors."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"Tell us about yourself. What should we\nknow about you, and how did you get your start in the architecture profession? "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"I\u2019m originally from Brooklyn, New York,\nand had dreams of being a comic book illustrator. An uncle saw my passion and\ncuriosity in drawing, and encouraged me to pursue architecture. During college\nat Virginia Tech, I learned the importance of mentorship and having a network.\nMy brother was a software engineer with Intel in Portland and, one evening, he\nwent to a NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) meeting and met a NOMA\nmember, Prescott Reavis, and they sparked a conversation about how I was an\narchitecture student looking for an intern position. Prescott happened to be\nthere because his roommate at the time was an engineer and invited him along. My\nbrother set up a meeting with Prescott and me, and we had a great talk that soon\nled to a summer internship for me. To this day, I don\u2019t know where my\narchitecture path would have taken me, but I had the pleasure of sitting side\nby side with Prescott Reavis and learned what it meant to refine your craft.\nPrescott is no longer with us, but his principles are always with me and I\u2019m\nthankful every day for it. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"What are the types of projects that\nyou currently work on with Shepley Bulfinch? Describe a significant recent\nproject that you worked on and why it is unique."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Currently, I am involved\nin our housing and mixed-use projects, each offering a significance beyond just\nstructures within urban landscapes. What\u2019s exciting to me are the urban\nrevitalization endeavors, where neglected areas can be rejuvenated through our\nprojects. What intrigues me about highrises is their capacity to foster\ncommunity and connection vertically, while integrating with the local community."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"One project that\nresonates with me is Moontower Phoenix, a multi-family high-rise recently\ncompleted at 811 N. Third Street near Roosevelt Row. A fundamental goal of LV\nCollective, the developer, was to blur the boundaries between public and\nprivate spaces, transforming the property into a node for the community. We\ncrafted a lobby that coexists with the caf\u00e9 on the ground floor. Every time I visit,\nwhether it be morning or afternoon, offers a remarkable sight: both residents\nand members of the community engaging comfortably within the space, using it as\na meeting point, study area, or workspace. Witnessing this interaction reinforces\nthe meaningful impact our projects can have on fostering a sense of belonging\nand community engagement."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,0],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"Why is membership in both AIA and NOMA\nimportant to you?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Belonging to both the\nAIA and NOMA signifies you are a member of a larger community. Many NOMA\nmembers also hold memberships in the AIA. One of NOMA\u2019s core principles is a\nbelief in creating pathways for future generations, offering opportunities for\naspiring architects on their journey to licensure."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The AIA serves as my advocate,\nsafeguarding my legal rights concerning contracts and registrations. NOMA\nembodies a sense of solidarity, where I\u0027ve found solace in knowing that I\u0027m not\nnavigating the profession in isolation. Only two percent of licensed architects\nin the U.S. are Black. Knowing this, I had put pressure on myself early in my\ncareer to work harder. While this pressure and work ethic allowed me to achieve\nrecognitions of which I am proud, this also burdened me with undue stress,\nfearing failure as if it were not an option. Attending my first NOMA meeting\nexposed me to shared experiences, demonstrating that I was not alone in my\nstruggles. It revealed a community of successful individuals who had similar\njourneys and reinforced the importance of mutual support and belonging."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"How have you seen NOMA Arizona evolve\nsince you have been here? What would you want non-members to know about the\norganization?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"NOMA, as a national organization, was\nfounded in 1971 when 12 architects of color felt the need for more\nrepresentation at the AIA Convention. They wanted to create an organization\ndedicated to the development and advancement of minority architects. Here, the\nNOMA Arizona chapter was founded in 2017 with 17 members under the leadership\nof Gary Nelson, AIA. At the end of 2023, NOMA Arizona had 110 members. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"NOMA is an inclusive, multicultural,\nand multidiscipline organization. Our members are interior designers, accountants,\nlandscape architects, engineers, business development professionals, architects,\nand general contractors, to name a few. We are passionate about serving our\ncommunities with initiatives such as Project Pipeline, which is a summer camp\nthat exposes middle school students to architecture. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"NOMA Arizona is also a resource for\nthe current and next generation of design professionals. We are also committed\nto professional growth and work to make that a focus at our monthly meetings. One\nthing I\u2019m very proud of in our chapter is its diversity. We are one of the most\ndiverse NOMA chapters nationally. We acknowledge and celebrate all heritages. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"What do you look forward to\naccomplishing in your two years as NOMA Arizona President?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"In the next two years, I\nwould like to see the NOMA Arizona chapter continue to grow. NOMA is a\nrecognized voice in the Arizona AEC community, and many members of NOMA Arizona\nare members of other organizations. I\u2019d like to see more collaborations between\nNOMA and our partners. Together, we can help open doors for each other and\nincrease diversity amongst the professions. I also want to provide our emerging\nprofessionals with more tools and resources to help them succeed and glean from\nthe lessons we\u2019ve learned. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"Can you name those who have been\nmentors or inspiration for your career? What has been their influence?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Prescott Reavis, who I\nnoted earlier, served as my mentor, and played a major role in guiding me\nthrough my academic years and internship. In addition, throughout my career in\nvarious firms across the U.S., I\u0027ve had the privilege of learning from\nremarkable women. Despite women comprising only twenty-three percent of\nlicensed architects in the U.S., I\u2019ve been lucky to have found positions that\nhappen to be within women-owned businesses. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"I have been lucky to\nwork for and collaborate with women including Deb France, AIA, in Portland, Oregon,\nwho served as the sole senior project manager between the Portland and San\nFrancisco offices of HLM Design; Lisa Gelfand, FAIA, in San Francisco, who\nestablished her firm focusing on sustainable schools and affordable housing;\nand Ellen Bailey Dickson, FAIA, in Chicago, who transitioned her practice from\nsmall residential projects to large-scale higher education endeavors, has made\nindelible marks in the field. And now, at Shepley Bulfinch, I\u0027ve been fortunate\nto collaborate with Carole Wedge, FAIA, and presently with Angela Watson, FAIA.\nI consider myself fortunate to have gleaned insights from these pioneers who\nhave shattered the glass ceiling in the profession."]]]]}
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