Roland A. Wiley


Are you looking for a job? Are you hiring but struggling to diversify your candidate pool? They come check it. Our job board at revision pass dot com forward slash jobs. This week design action. Collective is looking for a lead web designer in Oakland California company. Stop Making excuses on your DNA efforts. Post your job listings with us for just ninety nine dollars. You're listening. We'll be on our job board for thirty days and will spread the word for you throughout our podcast get started with us and expand your job. Search today revision path dot com forward slash jobs. You're listening to the revision path. Podcast a weekly showcase of the world's black graphic designers web designers and web developers through in-depth interviews. You'll learn their work their goals and what inspires them as creative individual. Here's your host Maurice Cherry. Hello everybody welcome to revision path. I'm Maurice Cherry and before we get into this. We just have to pause and acknowledge the milestone. We have just reached seven years. Seven years in podcasting is turning so the fact that we're still around still going strong and still making change and making a difference is really all because of you. Thank you to all of you. Who have listened to the show to have shared it with others and who really just helps spread. The word about what revisions path is about. This show would not be here without you. So thank you now. Let's talk about our sponsors. Facebook DESIGN AND ABSTRACT. Facebook design is a proud sponsor over vision path to learn more about how the facebook design communities designing for human needs an unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook. Dot Design this episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams spend less time searching design files and tracking down feedback and spend more time focusing on innovation and collaboration like glitch but for designers abstract is your team's version control source of truth for design were conversion sketch designed files present. Work request reviews collect feedback and give developers direct access to all specs all from one place. Sign your team up for fourteen day trial today by heading over to. Www DOT abstract dot com. Now for this week's interview as you know last month we were in Los Angeles and we did our first live show of twenty twenty so this interview actually comes from that life show. I talked with a wildly. There was a Los Angeles based architect and principal at raw international. Let's start the show. How this is GonNa take place as Maurice is actually going to be interviewing Roland Wiley. Maurice Cherry works as creative. Strategist at glitch. He is also the host and founder of revision path. The award winning podcast that he launched in two thousand thirteen. And what we're about to witness tonight. Live his in depth interviews showcasing. Black creatives has the honor of being the first podcasts. To be added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American yes of African history and culture other projects Maurice has provided to the world include the Black Weblog Award in Twenty eight days of the web to name. A few Maurice is the recipient of the two thousand eighteen Steven Heller Prize for cultural commentary from Asia was named one of graphic design. Usa's two thousand eighteen people to watch and included in the route. One hundred the annual list of the most influential African Americans ages twenty five to forty five his projects and overall design work advocacy have been recognized by Apple. Adobe AGFA and NPR. Let me now introduce role in a wily. He considers himself an urban visionary whose alternate goal as an architect is to build cities from the people up. He has over thirty seven years of experience and is founding partner of the L. A. Based architectural firm Raw International. A Nationally Recognized Award Winning Studio. Who'S PROJECTS RANGE FROM TRANSIT? Planning to sanctuary design. He has passionately advocated for the sustainable revitalization of urban communities through both the professional and civic activities notable projects have included the Union Station Gateway East Puerto Building motown headquarters in La and more recently on the planning and design of transformational projects here in the crenshaw community such as the crenshaw lax transit project. Lemur part Master Planning and Destination Crenshaw is firm has served in a leadership role in all of these projects was with a consistent goal of transforming the physical environment while empowering and preserving the culture of the existing residents. Please help me welcome. Maurice Cherry and rolling a widely may for that introduction. Thank you all for coming out tonight for this live recording of revision path rolling wildly prefer rolling. Wiley or rolling a wily. Well let's let's see Roland widely just because it's easier to say but I like rolling a wily because those are the initials of our company wrong international. Gotcha okay all right. So we'll start things off so rolling. Tell us who you are and what you do my goodness Maurice us. It's a tough one that would last all our let me let me see. Let me see where where I start. I will start with. I'm a man of God. I'm cousin family man. I have a beautiful wife here Andrea Us. Give a hammer and the one. I have two sons Randall. Who's twenty one and Roland? Who's twenty three and architect and being an architect that is something that is really my passion? I truly enjoy it. And it's a very tough profession for anybody but particularly a black man. It's a very hard profession. Well we'll get into that certainly throughout the rest of the interview. But for starters just tell me about your day to day work man it. We'll just start with today. Okay get to the office at six o'clock. I had a large presentation at the veteran's affair in in Westwood and is for eight hundred car parking structure now you may think parking structure but a parking structure eight hundred car. Parking structure is a big deal. There's like a room of twelve people. Everybody with the different opinion from administrative to safety to psychology to architecture landscape architecture. Everybody has an idea and we are the ones. We are the leaders. We have to direct all of these interests all of these burying interests into a project that safe cost effective and beautiful as an architect. That's the challenge. So after that I get to the office and we're working on the Beverly Hills City Hall. We're renovating the tower. Beverly Hills City Hall. Okay and so I just find out we get our plan check corrections from Beverly Hills City Hall and there were luminous so then I wonder okay. I gotTA deal with that. I'm leaving town tomorrow. And so then I have to plan all staff to make sure staff is assigned and they know what they're going to be doing while I'm away. In addition to that there was a an employee issue that a long email went out and I had to be the peacemaker. To mitigate whatever feelings are hurt from that email that went out then after that before I got out the door my C. F. O. Made sure I went through all the invoices. They had to go out and determine how much we were. GonNa get paid for the month so it just goes. It just everyday is intense. Every day is something. That's what keeps you in it. Yeah so some of your current projects that were mentioned in the Intro Destination Crenshaw Crenshaw. Lax Transit Line. Can you talk just a little bit about your involvement in those? Those came about. Yeah I'll go chronologically because the crenshaw lax transit line which most of you know should be opening this year. Notwithstanding the delays that was somewhat the catalyst to what really energize me as an architect and urban visionary that was in one thousand nine hundred ninety three. We started planning this project in Nineteen ninety-three. Wow that's right. So that's that's how long it takes for a transit project to come to reality. That is not an exaggeration from from plant from concept to planning to funding to construction can easily take twenty years. But from that I started to get to understand to start to envision how transit can transform a community because crenshaw live in the crenshaw corridor live view park and I've always been disappointed about the crenshaw corridor the commercial retail infrastructure is so great but yet the investment is so small and that the history of that goes back to the white flight in the early sixties after the watch riots where the major commercial retail base disinvested from crenshaw and moved to the valley and then what moved in to the crenshaw corridor were smaller mom and pop stores barber shops hair salons and that kind of thing but it wasn't commensurate to the income of the folks lived view. Park Windsor Hills Baldwin Hills. They had just as much or more income than the people that move down into the valley so I couldn't understand. Why don't we have the same level of goods and services that were there prior so then you look at transit investment? A typical transit station probably costs about. I'd say about fifty seventy five million dollars just for the station. Entire Transit System from exposition to the airport cost about two billion dollars. That's a major investment in our community and at those stations. You've spent almost one hundred million dollars you know there ain't GonNa keep a barber shop or a hair salon. No they're going to make some kind of investment and that's when the kind of the term urban visionary came to me that I started to see. Well this could be so much more than what it is and some of those rendering. Show what we envision. What our firm vision of. How transit can transform a community so that went on for from ninety three all the way till today there several steps. You have a feasibility. Study that you have a major investment study that you have a route refinement. Study then you have a draft environmental impact study and then you start to get into preliminary engineering and design and construction at takes twenty years and here we are today. Twenty something years later and crenshaw's about to open but from there you just start to bend their spin off projects development around the station areas and then from there you look at destination crenshaw. That's how destination Chris Paul was born for those of you who don't know destination crenshaw is unapologetically black art program that goes from crayons. Lawson to Lamar Park that was born by Councilman Marquis Harris Dawson. He came to our. My Office called our office. He's by the way he specifically look for black architect. Although you think that might be usual it is not it's disappointingly not unusual and he wanted a black architect who knew this corridor and so we worked with Marquis and Joanne. Kim His deputy and he wanted to make lemonade. Eliminate and other words that section from Slauson to crunch At grade and everybody feels they got the short change by having an agrade train as opposed to everywhere else is subway. There was a lot of contention about that so the councilman wanted to make out of lemonade or lemonade. Out of lemon and we thought well look. This is the only place that somebody coming from the airport with see any part of crenshaw that section everything else subway so what can we do to talk about crenshaw? Yeah what can we do to talk about who we are? And that's how we came up with the idea of this lineal art gallery that that celebrated Black Culture Black Culture in Los Angeles. There's so many people that grew up. That worked that live that learned in the Crenshaw Corridor. Who are famous Marvin Gaye Tina Turner? It just goes on and on and they're not celebrated they're not they're celebrated all everywhere else community. Yeah and so. That was the idea to represent us in a way the celebrated our culture and people come in from around the world with see it because it would be at grade. People were looking out at the train. Someone Win and get out of here. Check it out. So that's kind of you know a quick story how I became so passionate about transformation. Okay we'll definitely dive a little bit more into those projects as we keep talking. But I'm curious to know kind of where the spark came from like. Where did YOU SORTA I get? The notion of like architecture is the thing that I wanNA do. I can see the vision of things so I wanNA take it back. Tell me about where you grew up man. I'm going there tomorrow. Indianapolis Indiana okay. Right that's my hometown is a great place to grow up. I'm a proud product of a public schools public grade school public high school. I got a state. Scholarship pay my tuition and a ball. State University was the only accredited school of architecture in the state Graduated from Ball State University and came out to Los Angeles immediately after graduation. I always wanted to be an architect. I love buildings even as a as a child and ironically I. I still remember the day I discovered. I wanted to be an architect. Tell us about it. I was with my mom and we have Volkswagen and I was about five or six years old and I remember the Volkswagens on the Dash. Had this little rubber handle that you grab onto. I remember I would grab on a hand on kind of chew on it. I was a kid. I was a kid. She won't look out the window and I'd be downtown looking at the at the building. I asked my mom. I said mom who makes the most money as she said well doctors and even then I knew I don't like blood not going to be doctors and lawyers and I'm like well. That sounds kind of boring. And then she said architects architects. What's an architect? And she said well they built buildings and at that point. I knew I wanted to be an architect and because I love buildings I loved the built environment. I love the just the energy of a building just looking at a building and seeing what the dialogue it has with you. Every building had saying something. It's many times negative. But they're all saying something. Yeah and so That's were rolling and I was sort of driving around. La yesterday and we passed by a police station. Really sharp jagged amber rocks outside. Like I guess they sort of like how you would normally see shrubbery or topiary or something. These rocks as if to say. Don't come here. Don't sit here or whatever. It was really like an odd bit of like defensive design and said every building said something to you that was in skid row by the way That that was don't even think about laying down around here and I think that's really unfortunate but that's that's the language architecture does have that ability to speak and so from from that point. I wanted to be an architect and I was very fortunate to have role models or to see architects. Who looked like me at a very early age. That was a blessing. So that was in Indianapolis you those role models. Yes in I was about to fourth grade. We went on a field trip to an architect's office was Walter Blackburn. I didn't know anything about anything. Except he's an architect he's black and I want to be an architect so I guess I'm GonNa be architectures. That was a blessing. It really was. I didn't know at that time that you don't really get to see those those role models that was a very fortunate set of event because in my mind. I wanted to be an architect. I saw a black architect I saw office. So what's the problem? Although there were plenty of people who didn't think I could be an architect when I was in high school graduating my guidance. Counselor I told him I WANNA go to architecture school. At that time I had a work study program where I worked. I go to school in the morning. I worked at the City Hall in Indianapolis on the twentieth floor. A Counselor said you got a great job with benefits. Were you WANNA go to architecture school for just call? Look Dan. How's like but but on the serious tip just think how many young black men have been discouraged from following their dreams because they didn't see a role model and they had a person of authority that told them they couldn't do it And that that was disturbing. Yeah you had asked me to serve yesterday. Sorta during our drive like drive. We were at humor park at the out of remember. What the name of the coffee show. How cool how cool. Okay we red hot and cool and you were asking me sort of out of the three hundred plus people I've talked to like what's one of the common things and I was telling you like. It's sort of that like lack of a role model or person that they can see. That's in some position of authority or whatever when their child when their in their formative years to say okay. This is something that I can do myself like seemed to be a very sort of common thread. So That's interesting that you were able to kind of have that as an early influence for you. Was it like that? Also at ball state when you're studying architecture no architecture is is in. That's where I started to learn. It's back then and today is there's a white male elitists profession the curriculum you get indoctrinated into the white male elite us. And you don't even know it is just de facto. The architects the classical architects. The modern architects the cutting edge architects. They were all white male with no exception at that time. And that's something that to this day. Disturbs me in terms of the architectural curriculum? And how one is indoctrinated into a certain way of thinking where you don't see yourself you don't see your culture. Yeah you don't see a way to express who you are. You have to find a way to fit in and to speak that language when your language is just as relevant if not more relevant if given the chance and given the venue to express into practice it reminds me of This is an essay by the late. Sylvia Harris it's in this anthology from Steven Heller called education of a graphic designer and so she has an essay in there titled Searching For an African American design aesthetic or think it's black design aesthetic but she talks about mostly about education and how for black students often learning out of imitation as opposed to kind of like what their culture is about so they learn about Swiss styles in Germany styles and Dutch styles etc. But then it's like well if I'm a black design student are we learning about Nigerian style or Botswanan styles or South African styles and the answer is no you know and I wonder. Why is that still today? When we have access to the Internet we start to know our history available but yet we still don't know who we are when I was at ball state and I don't know how a why I did it. I research the Pyramids and the construction of the Pyramids and was was crazy. I didn't realize they were because the Egyptians were black because those illustrations that I research they were all just people drew illustrations of how they were built with white looking. Egyptians and so I knew it was an Africa but it wasn't until far after I graduated and I went to Egypt that I saw those folks look like me. Yeah they look just like me. We design those pyramid. The folks that look like me designed structures that far exceed what the classical Greek temples were that far exceed any monuments that have been built to this day were designed and built by people like me and so that looked like me and so that open up a door to me to explore more about what what else do I don't know what else have I been indoctrinated. And that is not true. And that's the journey on one to this day to discover who we are as a people so that we can express our design aesthetic that comes from our spirit that comes from some some discipline that you've been given and that you've been taught but it comes from your spirit there it's a we are a very spiritual people and. I think that we are in danger of losing that spiritual connection because we are so busy. Trying to adapt adopt and fit in to what popular culture is which is not us. When did you end up moving to la? Was it right after Balsa? Yep So my ass. People actually well. Why don't you come to la? Say you've been Indianapolis ever be like. It's a great place to raise a family. It really is but in terms of a career in architecture. I can imagine where what Pigeonhole I might be fall into. Indianapolis and I just want to be someplace. Warm weather is extremely cold. That's fair in Indianapolis and I was just again another blessing. I just feel like God has been very good in my life and I had a lot of interviews right out of school then Nice little resume and had interview setup and one of the interviews. It was at grew and associates. They're internationally known architectural firm. They're known for creating the inventing the shopping center and I was in the lobby. This great international style lobby and this sober head caramel skin. Woman walks up to me who I thought. That's the secretary the guy who's going to I'm going to interview. And she entered deuces ourself. I'm Norma's cleric and I'm going to interview. Norma S- cleric is the first black licensed architect in America. Wow and that's history from there I mean. Of course I was terribly intimidated by. She had a New York accent very nice looking woman and she took me back to the studio a CD of white shirts and white men and she's the boss over then. She walks me down the row because I did well in the interview. She made an offer. The first person she stopped introduced me to this young black man named Steve Lot. Steve Lot was just Mr Khoo. La Cool and I was Mr Polyester waren country so we became very good friends. He taught me the ways of La and became business partners. And we're business partners to this day. Nice Nice what was La like back. Then when I got done before and yet I got married was back in the in the eighties late seventies eighties. La was live and it was a new experience for me. There was just so much action so much activity so much to explore People Black People upwardly mobile interesting had layers of experience and travel and the party scene all of that. It was just happening back then that back then they had they had clubs speak easy. Jackie O's red onion places. You could just go know talking about but just places you could go and just experience. La and then on the other hand had friends from all spectrums. So I'd go. Backpacking up to Sequoia National Park at race. I had a friend that had a portion. We'd go porsche racing and you know it's just so many opportunities that I had no clue about in Indiana that this whole wide world was opening up for me and it was just every day wasn't adventure then at work just get tremendous opportunities. Norma at I think I was a pretty good architects. Oh if you good she's GonNa give you a shot on. Open up some doors for you professionally. Norma opened up doors for me and gave me opportunities to work on a really good projects really high profile projects and I got a chance to work closely with one of the partners Alan Rubinstein and he just opened up more doors for me and I started to make personal relationships with some of his client to they. Just talk to me because you know I got the job done and Alan was happy. What was it like being a black architect then versus now again. I was blessed because I saw norma. Yeah and I was like okay. I do this and then in Los Angeles at that time. There were several successful black architectural firms. Bob Can Art Harold Williams John Williams. Jack Heywood Vince probey. Just it went on and on and they were successful because they had political leadership. That would advocate for them that they would tell a developer. You are hiring. This black architect wind story. There ain't no minority or small business architect. Yeah and that enabled black to build a really good body of work. They got major county projects. They got major institutional projects. They got major educational projects because of the leadership would advocate for them so once again. I was very fortunate to see Success. Examples of success examples of black architects who were successful and then also to give honor to Paul Williams. He died the year. After I got here he died in. Nineteen eighty. Okay and I remember the day at Gruen. Somebody walked up to my desk. Paul Williams just died and I said well who's Paul Williams and they looked at me like I had three is. I didn't know and a lot of people didn't know and people are only now starting to understand his legacy and his greatness and so there was always a glass ceiling for black architects. Always however that glass ceiling was substantially higher than the ceiling for black architects is today for black architectural firms. Today and I mentioned that earlier there to statistics we need to know about black architects. One is at nationwide. There's only two percent of all license. Architects are black. That was that's been the same for fifty years to precise estate at two percent. Is that right? Steve is for for fifty years fifty two years. Two percent of all licensed architects are black. That is a sobering statistic but it speaks to the lack of nurturing the lack of opportunities for black architects. I might go a little further. Maurice to say that I don't blame White Society for that. Actually I blame more black society. We don't need why Phosa Hirose at black folks. What Hiros we'd be just fine. I believe that situation goes across the board. That's that's a we're at this crossroads right now. We got to turn around and start helping each other. We gotTA start reaching back. We gotta start trusting one another. We have to start loving one another. But that's all connected to knowing who you are and who you are and where come from and that's the spiritual aspect that I believe is continually being pushed out of our culture that is essential to our culture and essential to us being able to come together now early on when you introduce yourself though the those the first thing you said you're like I'm a man of God. How does your faith influence your work in the projects that you take well number one influences me to keep getting up coming coming toward believing that the vision I have for myself my my profession? My career will happen may not happen in my time. But it's going to happen as long as I stay under this umbrella of faith stay under this belief in God this God centered life where God is at the top of my life. It's like a pyramid. We're God's at the top my family and my community is at the base and everything else fits inside that pyramid. And as long as I stay within I call it an integrity box. I believe that I will achieve what God has set for me. And it's it's a journey of obedience. It's a journey of humility. And it's it's a journey of discernment so something that's sort of big right now. I think in La probably many other. Urban areas is gentrification. Something interesting you said. In our earlier conversation we had was that you see gentrification as a catalyst to Afro Future Ism can you expound on that a bit it goes back to the point I said about crossroads. We're at a very critical point in our society and in our country and I believe it's really dependent upon all of us especially black people to break out. Whatever these this chain we have around our brains and to express ourselves. We're getting pushed out pushed around oppressed and yet the talented tenth. That they're always going to get. There's yeah but then you got ninety percent that aren't and so this is what's happening with. I think gentrification isn't a fair word but that's the word because it's a negative but there are there are positive things about gentrification. Steve talked about good. Things can happen but you have to have ways to ensure that we are not displaced from our communities this right ear. Lamar duparc Baldwin Hills wizar- hills this is one the last intact black communities in urban America. And we are threatened. And so this we've seen what happened in Harlem. We've seen what happened in new street. We need to understand that and come together with our creative unlimited creativity and work together to make statements that help to mitigate this term called gentrification so that we can have this balance we can stay in our communities and other demographics are welcome to come in our community but this is our community and we should have a culture that speaks to our community. And that's why our park is so important is so important to amplify what Lamar Park is. It is the Cultural Capital of black Los Angeles and I believe it will set an example to be the cultural capital of black America. There's there's so much potential here in the park in a matter of catalyzing all the potential we have this building here owned by a black man. Now now I'm getting old. I've I've forgotten how calloway thread Kaushik. Thank you dame in across the street community build is owned by a black organization. You've got been called chaos black on you. And then you've got the anchor of Art Practice. They own about three buildings. Mark Bradford the internationally known artists Black Man. And you've got all these black ownership. Housing project was on. Well he sold it. But he's a black man that some of those buildings on forty third place are owned by black owned. Pull well for callaway. Owns this whole block. So you've got this opportunity and across the street across the street. This parking lot should be black on. It's going to go out for a developer R P. I'm going to be the develop. I'm telling you that right now. You know bees developer for this site across the street and it's going to be African American cultural and Conference Center that celebrates our culture that that talks about our history from whether you want to know the Hebrew history the African history the Morrish history up all of the all of the rich history that we have that we don't celebrate the many of us don't even know you know our roots before slavery which are deep and important that define us but we don't know but once we do know I tell you that we're going to have our power. We know who we are. Got rebuilds to us who we are and whose we are. That's when the power's GONNA happen. And that's when you're GONNA see tremendous change right right absolutely so we've been seeing. Some of your projects are cycling. Highness as we've been talking when you look back at like the portfolio of work that you've done is there one project in particular that really stands out to you as being like your signature project. Not yet now yes easy to say that's one of my biggest struggles is my body of work and the only comfort. I have is that architects. Don't really reach their stride. Until they get in their sixties and Seventies. That's my comfort is as you know. The best is yet to come and Cultural Conference Center across the street. I feel very good about the future. My experience and my body of work. I've had a lot of great projects. Destination Crenshaw was was a great experience I got to work with nips you hustle. I was there the night that the name Destination Crenshaw was born you park prep the new school the Middle School. We had a community meeting and Nipsy Russell would agree to be there. The whole school showed up off. People know kids show up at a community meet the whole school. We had that we had captured them. And we got some great ideas from them about what this project could be. And that's why so important for us a bill that bridge with our young people. They're the ones that came up with the idea. Call it Hashtag Destination Crenshaw because they wanted to make it a I again. I'm not a social media person. But they wanted to have it as social media and it was born out of their vision out of their understanding of where we are today and so they had that kind of vision that creative vision of a social media and we have that knowledge of architecture planning infrastructure. And that's where I think the power is going to be when we come together the two generations. Yeah let's shift gears a little bit. There's anecdote that she told me yesterday while we were riding around about Muhammad Ali. You can share the antidote. If you want to share as a lead into that who are some of the people that are really like inspired you throughout your career. Norma's glare she was. She was one of the first people that I was just an all of and actually my business partner. Steve Lot Steve. Louis I see Steve. Lot was one of the most talented men I know in St Louis is one of the nicest men that I know and talented and between the two I. I kind of grabbed something from both of them and try to try to be who I am. There have been men. My Dad played the most the influence in my life of being a good man and being honest he got up and went to work every day. He took care of his family and never fail and that I got the benefit of seeing that to see in how a man models manhood no matter how he was discriminated against. He came from the south even in his job. He still kept doing what he did. And that inspired me to to just keep getting up. There's always gonNA be disappointment. There's always going to be discrimination and then Muhammad Ali Mohammed Ali as as a young man. I observed him and I was so impressed by how you couldn't stop it. He was so confident and so arrogant to a point but he believed in himself. And you have to be that way in order to win to fight that fight and even though they took away his belt he kept fighting even though they prosecuted and try to hold him down he kept fighting and he was he sacrificed. He sacrificed his life for what he believed and he sacrificed his livelihood for what he believed in. And that's something that's very important to me and I think as all of us get into the business world you have to be careful not to compromise because your integrity is so important as you get older and you you start to. Maybe enjoy some success. You WanNa have success with some integrity. Yeah and so. That's what I saw in Muhammed Ali. That's what I saw in some of the older athletes particularly Muhammad Ali. And it's just always stay with me. Do Your Sons WanNa follow in your footsteps? No THEY WANNA follow in my footsteps in terms of being a businessman. They see how hard I work and they see that. Where's the money kids? They're about him. Pay Their bag in paid and now working hard and have fun is a whole nother kind of you know. Value System that the millennials and whatever the other generations you call you call them but it's very digitally based and they just work from a different para on both of my sons definitely have high ambitions and they want to do well in life and they would be interested in working with me if I'm able to turn the corner and turn like an architectural firm a traditional architectural firm into something that is non traditional that speaks to some of the community building that I'm talking about. Okay that's interesting the here. We have a lot of designers here in the room. Of course this is American Institute of Graphic Arts all that jazz. What advice would you give to designers that are looking to kind of use their skills and their gifts for? Let's say I want to say community activism because I feel like a lot of the work that you're doing is putting back into the community you're making and creating these built spaces that not only celebrate the community but also sort of it gives it a place. It gives a marker of some sort. What advice would you give for someone that wants to sort of follow in that same fashion? The first thing I would say is believe in yourself. Whatever it is that in your heart that you're passionate about you gotta believe in yourself because the world is going to try to tell you different. The world is going to try to make you conform to what they think you should be. Whatever demographic you fit in so believing in yourself is number one and give back gotta give back is so important to give back to share. Your gifts is so important and I think if you do those two things things will start happening. Because if you're giving back things happen they just doors open opportunities. Come I mean this is opportunity? Terry skied because I I. I'm in Lamar Park. Giving and Terry just say you know talked a role and here I am. I mean we were yesterday again. We were at the coffee shop and I got to see it in action. I mean every person out here like cave shook your hair you talk like thinking you even talked someone down. That was kind of like having a bad day. And everything like. It's amazing how much you're a part of this community and how much you give back to it you know. So it really sort of establishes you as being of the community but also someone that cares about where the community goes in the future. I just think that's important and everybody that you know I can see you. Ask Them for that advice. Everybody everybody has a way of giving back your your way in. May Not Become Moore Park Dillwyn homeless people and stuff like that but everybody can give back. Everybody has as a way has has a gift to share and to give back. What's been the most important lesson of your career man? My goodness I think you know. That's that's very interesting. The most important part of my career I think is is is my constitution of integrity. Because I've made there been some tough decisions and I made the decision based on integrity. Although was extremely tempting to go the other way and I chose integrity. Now certainly didn't help my bank account but I chose integrity piece and I think peace is the most important thing that a man or a woman in have in their life. No all of your projects. At least from the ones that again that are cycling behind us and dissipation crenshaw and the others that you mentioned they have these very long time line so maybe this question might not apply. But I'm asking anyway like where do you see yourself in the next five years like it's twenty twenty five What do you see yourself working on? See this cultural conference center just being completed. It's a five year plan. We're in the very first second. And the second month of that five year plan I see two years. Spent getting financing and getting the right financial pro forma funders partners all of that lined up three or construction project my lease mile. Our Office is downtown. My lease expires in five years. I plan on having my office on the top floor is going to be a five story structure of this Cultural Conference Center and I plan on using that. As an example they encourage communities across the country on how to pull their resources together and not trust or depend on. Government are any charitable venues but to be self supporting and have a level of self determination. My wife doesn't like that that term so determination but the fact of putting it all together with your own resources I I use. Booker. T. Washington as an example back in the day. There was this clash if you will. They stay they'd like to divide us back then. It was booker. T. Washington and W E boy. Yeah then it was. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But Booker T. Washington started the first architectural school at Tuskegee and his whole curriculum was designing construction maintaining building making the bricks understanding. How the whole cycle of building construction? That's an architect was a master builder. That was the first black architectural school. The second school was Howard University and Howard. University was one of the leaders was w e the boy and w e Howard University needed federal funding To Fund the school so they had to act like the traditional white architect. Who is the role? Don't roll up your sleeves. You know white shirt. Don't get your hands dirty just design and so unfortunately that school of thought became prevalent in all schools black schools of architecture so we kind of. Meld it in or with the traditional white male elitists former practicing. And that's now we are emulating. We wanted to so much be like them and so here we are two percent and that's what we want to do with this. Cultural Conference Center is build it. Manage it. Maintain it there's there'll be a catering kitchen partner with L. A. Trade TECH BILL. Jobs have people have a sense of ownership to this project offer. Public shares community combined shares in too. Because it's not a charity. It's a prophet. There's revenue streams. We want to make something that people can feel own. People can feel that they're getting paid and it's been a source of jobs. We just didn't get that you know architecture school just teaches you how to bill make bill pretty buildings and then on top of that only ten percent get to do that. So it's really. I think. The whole education architecture education process for particularly for black architects needs to change. Do you think black. Architects design like white architects. We try and you see where that's getting us. What do you mean Burnett look around so my point out a building that was designed by a black architect? And that's probably a nice building by point is there ain't a whole lot and if you look around the city scape today you drive up and down crenshaw all these new buildings going up. I'M GONNA BE SAFE to say. One of them was designed by a black architect. I don't know if it was but I'll just say I would say none now. That's a horrible statement. But we're trying so hard to be like them and sometimes I think they'd be laughing at us because we're not moving forward. We've got to come together and understand it's about us. Yeah we don't we don't need them. I mean everybody else's all good but we need to start supporting us. We knew. Start loving us but then it goes right back to. We don't know who we are. And that's what this Cultural Conference Center. The concept of it is to teach us who we are. This is a place of learning. We're broken people. We have four hundred years of slavery oppression affliction would traumatize. And we're sitting around here not recognizing it. The end result is where we are and so two to understand that and biblically base. If you read the Bible and not look at it as a myth but look at it as a history book and don't Allow Society to marginalize it because the moral trends of society today think the Bible is old fashioned and you should just do what you WanNa do. That's very dangerous because the Bible is our history and that's a paradigm that many of us don't know it's not just Jesus with black was black in the Bible if you go back to biblical times and look at. What did people look like? Thousands of years ago in Israel in Persia in Syria. I s when you read the Bible you read about people that look like us. We don't recognize that if we knew that. That's where the power and and that's why I have peace my wife. She's much more aggressive about it. I don't have time. People are talking about is start glazing over guys might have to touch you drop see. I'm moving on paid. I got work to do. I know that selfish. I'm sorry. Yeah my wife to GonNa make me do better roll. This has been a great conversation again. I want to thank you for sharing. You know about your work and about your life. Where can people find out more about you and about your projects and what you're doing. Www rauner national dot com. It's a very outdated website. That needs help. I'm happy to get your comments. We have a the murder part village Terry Merck Park Village Dot. Org will talk about the Cultural Conference Center. But that's one of the things. My goal is to get better with social media and understand the digital age a lot more. I need to do better. Well I think certainly with this work that you're doing that's making these big public spaces and everything. The word will get out there so being ahead of it will help a lot. I think yes. Well I mean that's the conversation. I WanNa thank you rolling so much for coming on the show for sharing your story when you were introduced as an urban visionary really saw yesterday when we wrote around for people that are listening. We wrote around. La showed me view park. And I think it was the view coming down towards Saint Bernadette S- shells believe at the Catholic school. Yeah on stock. Not Don Philippi Don Pooley Bay and I forgot the scene of you like that and when I think of the term urban visionary it makes me think for you that you probably see so many spaces like you see the possibility you can look at the empty lot and see what can come up there you can look at. Maybe the you know blighted building and see what it should be and I like more of that is what's needed as we progress into the future. Because certainly you know. La's a big city La's overpopulated city and so there's GonNa be a need to have more spaces that are not just for us but also to help make sure that we have equitable future. And I think it's really great that you're one of the vanguards of helping to make that happen so thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate it. Thank you Maurice and I do also congratulate you on your achievement with the Smithsonian and. I know your mom is very proud of you. Thank where's where's may have asked questions even just come here please. Two things real quick one just to clarify a point of correction about normal. She was the first black licensed female architect in California. The other thing is the constant sort of return to how we have been victims of Miss Education or under education. How important you feel inculcating are true histories authentically told by us today into curriculum would be in freeing just providing knowledge that you feel is essential for particularly our young people to go beyond where they've been able to go so far. I have a simple theory about imagery and television and education is all about inspiring people and I think the majority demographics get inspired all day long but reading history about their history and their achievements in just there just all good but it's rare that we in particularly in architecture read about our success. Our journey our knowledge. So I think just by showing and illustrating those kinds of success stories. Even do something about Norma something about Paul Williams. That's in our curriculum. That it starts to young people will just be automatically. Have that kind of impression that all okay. Somebody like me is doing it. I I know I could do that so that that's where I see that need and education. I give you props in your shoes with some shoes shoes. My Son my son game to him for Christmas. I taste you mentioned earlier. About how buildings speak different things to you and you know how senior project to take years and years. How do you maintain keeping your vision along with like Nike loss with like politics or things like that considering a project? One of the things that that keeps me motivated on these long projects is to have like in the queue. More projects like crenshaw's opening this year. Hopefully we're working on the west side extension. Which is a subway to the sea under Wilshire? Boulevard that's not gonNA open for another six years but see that's in the queue and you think the crenshaw project's GonNa be transformative watch. This Wilshire. Project the Wilshire Corridor is GonNa explode you going to see high rises. It's going to be like New York data. It may take ten twenty years but you look twenty years from now. The Wilshire corridor between libra and Beverly Hills scholar. Like New York is going to look like New York. And so those are the kinds of things that keep me motivated. We're also doing the planning for the Crenshaw. North Project which means it's GonNa the Crenshaw Line will extend from exposition all the way up into Hollywood. That's going to be transformative so to have the opportunity to be vision in all of this transformation that that just gives me you know ten years ago by it just keeps going. Thank you so much for being here what I went to school. I went to Columbia in Chicago and I was going for interior architecture and anybody who looked like me so I wound up being a project manager for eight years I was burned out and pushed out by the Ivory Tower of it. All and now that I'm doing my own thing. How do you see people like me? Who are not necessarily of this neighborhood are of this people. I want to be able to give back. But how do we stop thinking that blackness as one monolith because I don't fit in I don't like you or I don't have your experience for us to be able to come together and be accepted in these neighborhoods? Which maybe we haven't been from originally but are part of because of our culture. I'm sorry. What is your name. Allison Allison one thing. I would recommend is to be active in organizations cultural organization professional organizations and I stress the word active noma the National Organization of minority architects every year we have a project pipeline is a summer camp for to introduce young kids to architecture and to to just be involved in that and then it's just door start to open you start to meet people you start to network Lamar Park. Has We love Lamar Park. Ns Cy young people like you that that are promoting Lamar Park. You have to search Kinda get in. Then you start to see this this network. But that's what I would really really encourage you to do even if you just start with noma that it just branches from their La has a tremendous network of black folks who are actively trying to make a difference in a in a positive way. Okay here's Shaw. Here is the next question based on all of your years of studying architecture. What why philosophies understandings about life about people have you gained over time? What have you career? What else ideas that? You share with people based on the ideas of architecture. That's deep number. One philosophy number one you you never give up. You never give up number two. I C the humanity of everybody. I see the human person I and I think that's important whether White Black Brown yellow or whatever I look for the humanity in a person and I think it's a mid western thing where you get people to benefit without just cause you're white. I'm not thinking. Oh you know you're a bad person or or anything like that. I look at their eyes. Fill their spirit. And then I listen so I think that it gives me a sense of confidence in any place that I go that I look for the humanity in a person and then go from. There is fairly simple i. I don't have a complex set of rules or you know I really base my life on on Biblical principle. Follow my passion there. There's something in everybody that you know you know that's what what you. WanNa do and it doesn't matter that will maybe it's not gonNA make a lot of money or maybe everybody else isn't doing it fast what you WanNa do. If that's where your passion is driving you. You should continue to pursue it. I roll it. Thank you so much for you both doing this and for the Center for doing this. I have two questions. One is short one requires detail the first one. What pushback if any have you experienced when it comes to using more sustainable materials and things can containers shipping containers or recycled materials when it comes to actually contributing to that structure because I know there is pushback and then the second part of the question is what pushback have you experienced when it comes to making our cities look futuristic? You know what I'm talking about so you speak to that for a little bit. The first question sustainable materials to things cost and logistics cost is is simple but sustainable materials. The brother here today Richard. Tim and he has a system of glass. It's not solar panels but this glass can transform into electric energy and so I was immediately intrigued and interested. Our my question is cost and so he gave me the answer that it can pay for itself and plus tax incentives and then. The second question is logistics logistics from an architectural perspective. Is You already I? C B O Number Research. Report number has been used before. What are some of the drawbacks that you don't know about yet? So those are the two major pushbacks if you will and it and it takes innovation and courage to take that step. I definitely want to follow up with ten. No one brother and I wanted you know see see anyway. I can help a brother. Who's and that's another thing. It's like if you see a brother or sister. There's about something positive. Y'All got to open up a door. You know just what we should be doing now. The second question. Repeat that second question I feel like our cities are not looking how they should look in twenty twenty vision right promised flying cars in we have those are not readily available. Okay so the great you laugh. You laugh about flying cars. But I'M GONNA go back to what I've been talking about since one thousand nine hundred eighty nine and that's autonomous vehicles. David Autonomous Vehicle. Technology has been in place since one thousand nine hundred eighty nine. You know why we don't see it yet. Besides people being scared but that's not the reason there's money. Insurance companies can get paid out on money. Que Get paid tax. Pay All these people that drivers unions don't get paid all these people to stand in line not to get paid are blocking. And that's what happens with technology now when a crisis happens then people start getting out of the way but right now that kind of technology futuristic technology is here is just there are competing interests that stand. The Ain't going to get paid so what I'm figuring. They're making deals with the insurance companies. Now they're making deals with the truck drivers union so they can share. Somehow these can move forward. Well thank you for doing this tonight. Man It's always a pleasure to listen to you and sharing your passion and your knowledge is really important. I had a question that goes to something where you know your notion of your your community center and the fact that you've talked about having it be a sustainable Operation what do you think you can look forward? Maybe another ten years. Do you think is going to happen in terms of ownership in the broader community? Here because you see it changing right now and how does this committee looked like it? Does today if you don't own it well. The truth is Michael that this place is GonNa look different ten years from now. But that doesn't mean that that our culture should not be the predominant culture. I'm a true believer in in an open society and I am very very pro black but that doesn't mean I'm anti anything I'm just unapologetically black. I think that if we continue to promote our culture and we continue to ensure that projects like destination crenshaw are implemented a project that Cultural Conference Center are implemented that we patronize are black businesses to sustain them. I think that we're GONNA be fine. I just think it's going to be but to me. That's that's a good thing so I guess the follow up with that question of what does the future look like sustainable materials. How do we get young black people to understand urban planning and transit and things like community land trusts right? How do we get us to get together to understand? All of these things and to understand like parking is a huge issue when we're talking about housing for the one to one right for every unit that needs to be built there needs to be a parking space for it. How do we do that? How do we put that education into our landscape? A community activism is very important. You talked about lack community. Land trusts the the owner of this space. Mr Damien Goodman is one of the largest voices about community land trusts and advocating for our community we have to rally around leaders who are willing to be a voice and I think the one thing that we have to know that there's power in numbers are elected. They pay attention when they see numbers you know. If they just see Damian's voice they are Damian. But if these Damian I two thousand other people then they're going to start listening and I think it's very important that we do rally around folks like Damian who have a vision who has a true heart to improve our communities and we be a voice. We signed the petitions. We make the phone calls. We show up at the meetings and this is just community. WanNa one you go to any other community and I can promise you. That's what's going on in. It's just that we need to adopt that culture and again that comes to that whole realization or that revelation if you will of who we are going to wrap it up on on behalf. Eta L. A. I WanNa thank you all for being here tonight and to our wonderful amazing guests. Maurice Jerry and rolling a wily another round of applause from all right. Do Shout out my folks in Indianapolis my mom my sister my cousins my boys Greg and Tommy. Shout out to my folks have ron or national shout out to my two sons shout out to St Louis. Who's right here and last but certainly not least shout out to my lovely wife and thank you everybody for coming out big big thanks to Roland Day Wiley. Thanks to a Aga Los Angeles. Thanks to the audience that came out to the live show. And of course thanks to you for listening you can find out more about Roland. And his work through the links and the show notes revision path DOT COM. And of course. Thanks to our sponsors for this episode. Facebook DESIGN AND ABSTRACT. Facebook design is a proud sponsor for vision path to learn more about how the facebook designed community is designing for human needs at unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook dot design. This episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams spin this time searching for a design files and tracking down feedback and spend more time focusing on innovation and collaboration like glitch but for designers abstract. Your team's version control source of truth for design work with abstract conversion sketch design files. Present work request reviews collect feedback give developers direct access to all specs. All from one place. Sign your team up for free. Fourteen Day trial today by heading over to www dot abstract dot com provision path is brought to you by lunch a multidisciplinary creative studio in Atlanta Georgia. Are you looking for some creative consulting for your next project? Then let's do lunch visit us at. Yep It's lunch dot com. I'll put a link in the show. Notes this podcast is created hosted and produced by me Maris Cherry with engineering and editing by RJ. Basilio our intro voiceover is by music. Man Jury With Insurance Ultra Music by yellow speaker. Our transcripts are provided by glitch. So what did you think of this episode? Hit US up on twitter or instagram or even better by leaving us a rating and review on Apple. Podcasts I'll even read your review right here on the show as always thank you so much for seven years in the game. Thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time.

Coming up next