Editor’s Note — This is part of a student conversation series highlighted as part of Black History Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and hope to maintain that momentum in future careers.
This week, meet Jeremiah Brown, of Kansas City, Missouri. Brown earned his bachelor’s here in May 2021, and is now pursuing a master of architecture. In the future, Brown hopes to work hand-in-hand with communities to create spaces they need.
How did your interest in architecture develop?
I developed an interest in architecture when I was just a kid. Growing up, it was just my mother and me in an apartment. Every time I went over to my friend’s house, it was such a different spatial experience and I loved it. I became so fascinated with houses that at the age I was able to drive, I would drive around to different neighborhoods just to look at different houses and styles. After I came to college, my love, appreciation, and even understanding of architecture grew even more.
In your IIDA video, you speak about how design shapes experiences and forms memories for people. Can you talk more about that?
Well first, I am so glad you enjoyed the video! I had such a fun time making that video and a huge thank you to my good friend, Joshua Carlson, for helping me create that video, because without him that video would not have been possible. Space is such a critical paradigm when it comes to architecture, because of its interpretation and how we interact with it. The best example I can give is the spatial quality and experiential component difference between the spatial experience of a shopping center and the spatial experience of an office. Both can achieve an experience that is to be sustained in our memories, but the overall experience we achieve in both is totally different through interaction. Every space we interact with is sustained in our memories and that is because of the spatial quality and spatial interpretation we are able to inherit from architecture/design.
Talk about your plan to design affordable housing for families in Kansas City. What sparked this idea for you and how do you see it impacting that community?
My plan for this would specifically be to gain more community involvement and understand exactly how I can design a space for the people and even possibly get the people involved in every aspect of the design. Sometimes as architects or even professionals, we have to learn how to take a step back from professionalism and become personable, so people know that they are important and are not just another client or project to be added to a portfolio, but a group of people that can be impacted to create change or a social dynamic. This is a topic I am covering in my thesis as well. Ultimately, my plan would be to gain as much community output as I can and use this output to facilitate the research and design of affordable housing in the Kansas City area.
Have you had any courses or projects at the university that have solidified your love for architecture and its power to make an impact?
Yes, absolutely! I really enjoyed Salvador Lindquist’s studio my first semester of fourth year. This studio really was able to touch on design justice and the social dynamic impact that design can seek to change and it’s really what helped find my thesis topic for me. I learned that design doesn’t always have to be “sexy” to be considered architecture. Sometimes there is more to architecture than just creating a good-looking building but using architecture programmatically and spatially to create impact. Architecture alone won’t solve problems, only the people can. Architecture is the support behind the great people that aspire to create change in their community and even the world.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
Oh, absolutely. There are two main things I want to accomplish in my life. The first is to write a book, I really enjoy writing stories that depict things I had to learn in my life, and I actually had the privilege to write a short in college. I really enjoyed this as it gave me inspiration to hopefully write one, one day. I always told myself if architecture did not work out, I would have gone to school to be a writer/author, but Thank God architecture has worked out. The second thing I want to accomplish in my life is seeing my mother get her own house built/designed by her son. My mother has worked very hard and sacrificed much to get me to where I am today, and she would be more than deserving to get her own house designed/built.
What or who inspires you?
One hundred percent, my mother inspires me. I got my work ethic from her. There have been times when no one believed in me, she did. In fact, when I first came to UNL there were many people, even my own family, that did not think I was ready to go to such a big school away from family, because I am very introverted. They pleaded with my mother to not send me, but she would just reassure them that her son is able to do it, and she was right. I think to myself all the time the only reason I am here is because of the prayers of my mother, so she 100% inspires me every day.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
My advice would be to tell your story like nobody else can. Trust in yourself and trust the process. Not only that, but most important, be yourself and stay true to yourself. In college, you will experience good days and you will experience difficult days, but no matter what kind of day you experience, in the end you need to trust yourself, trust the process, always be yourself, and remain true to yourself. It is by doing this that you will develop and grow into the person that you have been called to be.