It’s no news, architecture has long since been a male dominated field with men handling the reigns in construction, thankfully however, inequality is gradually becoming a thing of the past as women are stepping up, forging their path and leaving their mark.
Architectural designer, Tiffany Brown passionate about empowering the black woman is applaudably on a mission to change the number of Black women in the field through her program 400 Forward.
A strong voice of inclusion and diversity and inclusion, Tiffany a sought-after expert has graced stages at national events including South by Southwest and the AIA Conference on Architecture, and is also featured in ESSENCE Magazine, AIA+Architect Magazine and Architectural Record.
The Detroit-native, already on track to becoming one of 452 licensed black women architects in the United States and part of the 0.3 percent of Black women in this space in August 2017, became a licensed architect, and ever since there’s been no stopping Brown in her quest to empower women on her journey.
Today, 400 Forward has formed partnerships with the American Institute of Architects, Microsoft, and the National Organization of Minority Architects, providing scholarships, providing financial support costly certification exams and study materials.
“Even though there aren’t a lot of faces that looked like mine in our field, I try to be the face that I was looking for in my career. I feel like that’s what my calling is, and so for me, seeking out the next 400 African American women architects, I’m standing on the shoulders, of the ones’ that exists today, which means the world to me,” Brown says.
Brown didn’t have it easy and struggled through college as her parents couldn’t offer assistance financially, “Growing up the way I did gave me the tough skin that I needed to make it in this White male-dominated field of architecture and construction,” she explains in a chat with Essence.
Ten years after upon graduation from high school, Brown who grew up in public housing began working with the Detroit Housing Commission, even at the vacant lot where her childhood home once stood.
When demolision of several public housing developments began at that time she noticed the gap – lack of Black faces in the rooms making decisions on what to do with these spaces. This was the rewakening moment, Brown to narrow her focus and energy on the creation of opportunities for other Black women in the field.
“I’m sitting there at a table with people who would not live there, who will not send their kids to these schools that they’re building and they were making decisions about materials and spaces and things that will affect the [community]. [They] shouldn’t be designing these spaces. So at that minute, I was like, okay, I have to do something,” she explains.
Thus, the creation of opportunities for the next 400 Black women in architecture was birthed: “I started 400 Forward to mentor and provided support and seek out the next group of girls to become architects and even expose them to urban design and engineering,” she says.
Brown is a proud recipient of the 2017 Knight Arts Challenge grant.
“The current face of architecture is not an accurate reflection of what our cities look like,” says Detroit-based architectural project manager Tiffany Brown. In 2017 Brown’s proposal for a non-profit that would support the next generation of African American women pursuing careers as practicing architects won a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight foundation in its Knights Art Challenge.