CUFO Celebrates Black Architects and Engineers to Honor Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, on February 22, 2023, the Columbia University Facilities and Operations (CUFO) Equity and Inclusion (EI) Council hosted an event to celebrate Black architects and engineers who have positively impacted the built environment at Columbia’s campuses and beyond.   

March 06, 2023

The event began with an inspiring performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by vocalist Roz-Beauty Davis and keynote remarks from Adina Berrios Brooks, Associate Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusive Pathways, who spoke about the educational opportunities available at Columbia including her path to a doctoral program at the university. 

The panelists, Gregory Switzer, CEO of Gregory Switzer Architects, John Rice, Principal of Legacy Engineers, and Jonathan Nowlin, an architect with Moody Nolan, discussed their experiences in the field and how they champion diversity and inclusion in the engineering, architecture and construction services industry. 

Gregory Switzer Architects served as Architect of Record on the Butler Atrium, a recently renovated residential rooftop and event space at Columbia with an outdoor furnished terrace and indoor lounge featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase breathtaking views of the upper Manhattan skyline.  

Legacy Engineers was Engineer of Record for the renovation of the Pasupathy Lab in Columbia’s Pupin Hall, which focuses on advancing research in condensed matter physics, specializing in 2D materials, quantum phenomena, and scanning tunneling microscopy.  

All of the panelists spoke about their path to a career in the built environment and how they continue to work towards ensuring the industry continues to include diverse talent in these professions. 

“We are especially proud that as part of our Black History Month celebration, we’ve brought together an esteemed group of industry leaders that have not only positively impacted the built environment but have also inspired an awareness of the need to build an equitable future,” said Denise Ferris, Associate Vice President of Design Management at Manhattanville and co-chair of the CUFO EI Council.  

CUFO’s Equity and Inclusion Council was launched in 2022 to ensure an organizational culture in which all individuals are valued, have a sense of belonging and connection, and feel empowered to do their best work. 

"One of the key drivers for events like these is to provide a forum where employees can gain knowledge about their colleagues' initiatives and the University’s working partners who are from diverse backgrounds," said Keith George, Senior Project Manager of Capital Project Management and co-chair of the CUFO EI Council. "Doing so can result in enhanced mutual respect, understanding, and a stronger collaboration for the work ahead of us."

“Our built environment informs how we understand our community and reflects who we are as a University,” said Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations David Greenberg. “That’s why we have such a strong commitment to diversity in the way we do business. Our commitment to this is unwavering and will only continue to grow.”