J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures

Private: Initiatives


Statistically in 2012, 27,000 students enrolled in US architecture programs, sadly only 1,300 students were African-American and approximately 3,900 were Latino. These statistics make evident that it is extremely important to find ways to better understand why this is and how these numbers can be improved. With a deep commitment to strengthening underrepresented voices, JMBC and the Harlem School of the Arts have partnered to expose more youth / young adults of color, particularly Latino and African-Americans, to the fields of architecture and design disciplines.

This partnership, between two educational anchors of the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem, fuels our mutual core objectives to utilize a context of rigorous training, research, and service-learning to build self-confidence, and empower a new generation of creative thinkers, designers, and innovative leaders of tomorrow.


In the Spring of 2013, the primary objective of the Harlem School of the Arts, the J. Max Bond Center, and the Spitzer School of Architecture 3rd year undergraduate design studios was to expose youth of color to the architecture and design discipline through full immersion and hands-on practice within a higher education architecture design curriculum. At the semester’s end, HSA Prep students were able to understand how their art background and training at HSA can be applied to the design of architecture and neighborhoods – particularly the hypothetical re-design of the Harlem School of the Arts and its positive design impact on the Hamilton Heights community.


HSA students photographed negative physical attributes within the neighborhood, developed design partis, collaged program models, interpreted design concepts, produced collages about historical events, constructed experiential and documented sensory models with found objects and drawings, and participated in design critiques and conversations with peers, parents, and faculty.


Semester provided students a survey of different design processes; strengthened student’s oral and graphic skills; empowered youth as project clients, and students developed an awareness about what architects do and how they do it

Inclusion in Architecture Report (2015) one of the first comprehensive compilations of data recording the state of African Americans and Hispanics practicing in the architecture profession, as well as faculty and students in the academy.