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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Craig Aquart is a veteran architect and co-owner of M C Harry & Associates headquartered in Miami.

Even though he has dozens of projects in development, he is on a mission to spread what he calls the gospel of Architecture.

CBS4 recently visited Aquart while he and his staff hosted a group of students from the community to expose them to various career opportunities in the field.

“I did some research and found out that of the 113-thousand registered architects in the United States, less than two-thousand architects were actually black and the statistics were even worse when you look at black females. There were only 430 in the field. I realized there was a disparity there and one of the reasons for that is the awareness in the black community is severely lacking,” said Aquart.

In response, Aquart created BAM, which stands for Black Architects in the Making with the support of the Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD).

For the last two years he and his staff have hosted workshops for students in Overtown, Liberty City and Richmond Heights just to name a few.

“We encourage students to sketch regularly, and like everything else practice makes perfect,” said Aquart. He advises students to at least sketch one image per day.

Aquart says BAM has reached more than 300 students in two years.

“That’s what the program is really about the program is trying to get more black students to participate not just for our development as a people but for the development of an entire nation. You look at architecture and you have to ask yourself what is it that architecture is missing out on by not having that inclusive nature of having everybody be a part of it. That’s really the drive behind the why, because we believe with more African American participation, inclusion in the industry we will as a nation will be better off and in the profession,” Aquart said.

He points to other fields that have greatly benefited from African Americans like sports, music, dance, theater and literature.

He emphasizes the need for more African Americans to contribute to shaping their communities through building designs as well.

One of Aquart’s mentees, 14-year old Khairi Muhammad was considering a career in dentistry but since meeting Aquart he says he’s found a new passion.

“I started drawing a lot more when I met Craig. I was getting into artistry and getting different perspectives on things, when i started BAM Workshops,” said Muhammad. “He gives me a lot of good advice. He makes sure I have a handle on things I may need help with. He’s hands on, he makes sure i have a good grip on what I need to do and he exposes me to a lot of things in architecture.”

Also, the prospect of making history in architecture excites Khairi as well. He says it makes him feel like he’s a part of something that will be bigger and that he’s contributing to the greater good.

Meantime, Aquart’s mission as a mentor is one that can inspire anyone in any career.

He’s a strong believer in giving back.

“You just can’t be concentrated on work. You also have to be looking at other things. There is your family, there is a community, there is church. All these things have to happen simultaneously. We have a responsibility, if you are privileged to have a college education and to become part of a profession, you have a responsibility to reach out to your community and make sure they have the same opportunities that you had.”

If you would like to find out more about Black Architects in the Making and finding out ways your group can take part please reach out to the Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD): https://miamicad.org/bam/ or reach out to Craig Aquart at M C Harry & Associates http://www.mcharry.com/

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

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