Project Pipeline is the signature K12 outreach program for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). It embodies the concepts of access and education to students seeking architecture as a career. The program, originally conceived by NOMA members, ensures that the pipeline to architecture school and licensure remains open. Its primary mission is to empower young people to affect change in their community through design. By connecting young people to real-world architects and planners, NOMA helps to foster the next generation of design professionals, civic leaders, and changemakers through advocacy for increased inclusiveness, diversity, fellowship, equity, and excellence in design.
Project Pipeline is a national program for students in grades 6th - 12th, where they gather for one week and are guided by mentors who are working industry professionals. The camp offers youth the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of architecture and design. And, for many students, Project Pipeline is their first introduction to the world of design.
Each summer, NOMA chapters across the nation guide students through all stages of design, using provoking and fun exercises. Students investigate through drawing and model building, analyze through diagramming and research, and engage through interviews and site visits. At the program’s conclusion, students present a fully realized project that addresses an issue in their city.
Through Project Pipeline, young people grasp the significance of architecture in their daily lives, as well as the broader cultural, social, and historical implications – preparing them for college and life beyond. They develop skills and tools to contribute to their community critically and constructively.
This is my second time volunteering with Project Pipeline. I think it's really helpful to show students that there's such a wide range of avenues that you can go within architecture. ALISA CHIRACHATURAPHAK Design Coordinator at HGA
The History of Project Pipeline
Project Pipeline was born at the 2002 NOMA conference in Fort Lauderdale. Then-president Paul Taylor asked Drake Dillard and David Kirk to research and establish a plan for the camp that would introduce minority students with a focus on black students to architecture with the ultimate goal of creating more licensed black architects. The first camp was held in 2006 in Cincinnati by the South West Ohio NOMA chapter. Since then dozens have camps have been held in more than twenty cities. In 2012, a formalized curriculum was implemented nationally. Over the last decade, Project Pipeline has served more than 10,000 students nation-wide.
I'm a rising senior in Bethesda, so I was very lucky to do Project Pipeline virtually in Virginia. I really enjoyed this camp because it gave me an opportunity to explore a different side of architecture than I had in previous architecture type workshops. I was able to do some urban planning and that really opened my eyes to other aspects of architecture. ZIZA HERNANDEZ 12th Grader
The History of VANOMA's Project Pipeline Summer Camp
The Virginia Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (VANOMA), was chartered in September 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2020 - 2022, VANOMA's Project Pipeline program was held virtually to accommodate the restrictions of the pandemic and to ensure safety for both our youth and our mentors. In 2021, NOMA national encouraged its regions to combine their virtual programs in order to facilitate the best camps possible and to promote the sharing of common resources. Our Southeastern region extended from Maryland to Florida. In 2022, Virginia returned to hosting its own camp, which remained virtual, and was enhanced by the introduction of Crystal Miller, Chair of the Architecture Department at Brightpoint Community College, as our program champion and newly appointed board member.
Both in 2021 and 2022, Virginia had 35 students participate and waived their registration fee. We provided T-shirts, supplies, and a comprehensive workbook. The template for the workbook was provided by NOMA national and adapted to focus on the contextual issues affecting our region. This document was the basis for our curriculum. All camp supplies and materials were mailed to students a week before the camp's start, and included building drawings, a metal ruler/scale, pencils, markers, a drawing pad, foam core sheets for model making, Lego pieces, and glue.
The camps themselves were facilitated via Zoom, and also leveraged the use of Miro – a digital collaboration platform – to promote communication amongst the students and a means by which they could present their work. A majority of the camp is instructional and teaches students about basic architectural terms and concepts, and is interspersed with break-out conversations and activities. The last day of the program is dedicated to final presentations of the students' work, which is reviewed by all participants and mentors. Special attention is given throughout the week to help prepare students and provide continuity between presentations. Mentors provide direction, feedback and encouragement through positive reinforcement, which is integral to the process.
Themes from Prior VANOMA Project Pipeline Summer Camps
Renovation of a Historic Library in Petersburg, Virginia: Students had the option to select a new building program for the existing facility, which included a museum of their choice or a green site for the community.
Masterplan for a Civic Hub: Students were presented with developing an urban plan for a civic hub consisting of residential and commercial buildings. Their work included shared amenities like outdoor gathering spaces for socialization and recreation, spiritual and medical buildings, places for shopping and access to healthy foods, and more.
I'm a rising 12th grader and I really loved being part of Project Pipeline because it really helped me figure out what I want to do. It really helped me figure out what I wanted to research more in college which is sustainable design. NAIYA GREEN 12th Grader
Kenneth Martin, Founding President of VANOMA, with past Project Pipeline Students
Learn more about the VANOMA Project Pipeline Summer Camp