Summer Scholar Highlight Series with Kayleigh Macumber
What has been a highlight of your Summer Scholar experience so far?
Having the chance to expand my interest in participatory design and work with the Jones County community in the beginning stages of a proposal for the county’s first recreation center was a highlight of my academic career at large. It was exciting to be trusted with the first steps of a project that will be hugely important to their community. Julia, Abhitha, and I spent the summer analyzing 5 sites for environmental, economic, and social viability, and from there began the process of preliminary master planning. Being able to motivate our design decisions and priorities with the Jones County community's feedback gave the process a direction and purpose often missing from our studio projects.
Can you share any valuable lessons you have learned?
I feel incredibly lucky to have had Ashley Montgomery as a mentor! She expanded my understanding of what sustainability and resiliency look like in the design process and gave me the resources to implement these practices moving forward. Before this summer, I struggled to flesh out authentic and well-informed sustainability approaches in my design because I either didn’t know where to start or did not have enough time. Ashley gave me a design process that integrates environmental research from the beginning so that it can develop as deeply as any of the other design elements. She also reinforced the importance of working collaboratively as a designer and embracing the fact that we do not have all the answers but, with an interdisciplinary team, we can work towards designs that last longer and are loved better.
How has your understanding of the design process evolved throughout your internship?
I found it liberating and exciting to be working so collaboratively at Hanbury. I love that in the profession we get to share in the responsibility of a project and lean on each other to develop ideas in a more holistic way than we can as individuals.
What excites you the most about our industry?
I’m excited to be coming into the industry at a time when so much is changing, and we are seeing a reinterpretation of what the responsibilities of an architect are. There is a lot we are catching up with regarding our duty to design sustainably and respectfully to existing communities. I am excited to be part of these conversations as they happen.
Who should everyone in the industry be following?
I’m really interested in housing solutions that challenge how we live and interact with each other. Architecture can’t fix everything (or most things), but I am interested in its role in reimagining communities so that there is greater opportunity for connection and collaboration. I’m eager to see shifts away from car-oriented cities and single-family homes that prioritize immediate family and privacy over community. These models might work for some, but we are at the beginning of seeing big shifts in the way people define family and plan their lives. Firms like LOHA do an excellent job of centering these issues in their work. I am also excited to see the development of the ideas started by George Gattoni and Elemental regarding incremental housing.
What is a building you'd like to visit that you haven't yet?
The SESC Pompeia by Lina Bo Bardi! I find its story so interesting, and I think it would also be a perfect place to spend a day off.
Tell us about a memorable experience where design or architecture played a pivotal role.
Being a Resident Advisor at Tulane has transformed my understanding of what it means to be a mentor and gave me my most valued experiences as a college student. I took the job thinking it would be a break from the architecture world, but it has only made me more aware of the importance of building design in community development. As an RA you take note of what spaces are and are not being used and what characteristics make a space conducive to community building. It has been serendipitous to see so much overlap between a major and a position typically considered unrelated but in reality, are deeply connected.
If you were not studying architecture, what alternative career path would you pursue?
If I were doing something else, it would be community outreach and education about the importance of local elections. I spent a lot of time working with local politicians and campaigns in Kentucky as a high schooler and the experience gave me the moral stamina and hope for the future that grounds me in uncertain moments. I think often about how to incorporate that work with where I am now and could see myself pursuing it full-time.
Do you have any special hobbies, talents, or interests?
I grew up loving to paint and create visual art and, as I continue to learn new software for architecture, I love exploring its potential to create non-architectural visualizations as well. I have taken a particular interest in digital collage and frequently make small one-off pieces that I share with my friends or feature in the student publication I’m a coeditor of.