Third year student Faiza Duale has dreams of one day rebuilding and restoring beauty to her war-torn homeland of Somalia.
“I was inspired by my family’s old house that was destroyed by the civil war” Duale said. “I decided to become an Architect to rebuild it and to design buildings with a warm and different perspective.”
The pursuit of this dream led her to Dunwoody, one of a few programs in the country offering a stackable five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, placing her on a fast-track to becoming a licensed architect. She hopes that path will one day lead to work at an international architecture firm.
Duale earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting & Design in July, after completing the two years of technical training needed for the degree. She is now enrolled in the final three years of the practice-based curriculum, which encourages a global perspective to architecture and has many of the students designing projects for real clients across various diverse communities of the Twin Cities and nationally.
Working on a design for Dunwoody Student Housing, a final project for her associate’s degree, has had the most impact on her so far, allowing her to show off some of the skills she acquired.
“I was so happy when one of the judges told me that this project was very unique and unforgettable,” Duale said.
Her work ethic and dedication to her craft has earned her recognition from peers and faculty.
“I have seen Faiza maintain her composure and focus as a student even in the most pressure-filled of circumstances,” said Anjali Ganapathy, an Associate Professor of Architecture who instructs Duale.
“The excellence of her portfolio clearly displays the additional time she routinely put in over and above the requirements of her classes to expand her knowledge of various software and develop her projects,” Ganapathy said.
Duale draws inspiration from other female architects who have blazed the path before her.
The two that top the list: Zaha Hadid, regarded as one the greatest and most influential female architects in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and — closer to home — Alicia Belton, founding Principal and Chief Creative Officer for Urban Design Perspectives, located in Minneapolis.
“I like that [Belton] always has the time to volunteer to help others and to serve the community besides being a very successful in the field,” Duale said.
It is something she takes to heart and plans to follow that lead by giving back to the Minnesota community she now considers home.
“Minnesota has given me the opportunity to pursue my goals, and for that I am forever grateful,” Duale said.
In her previous role as Vice President of Dunwoody’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects – Students, (NOMAS), Duale encouraged other Black, Indigenous, and students of color (BIPOC) to respond through their work to their feelings on the issues of racial and social justice surrounding George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May. The effort culminated in a in a series of design boards for a George Floyd memorial they are calling BIPOC Summer Cipher.
She also flexed her leaderships skills by organizing mock job interviews for their bi-weekly meetings in order to build community.
Her promising skills also caught the attention of the Minnesota Architectural Foundation (MAF) Clarence Wigington Architectural scholarship committee.
The scholarship honors the legacy of Clarence Wigington, the first African American municipal architect in the United States and the first licensed African American architect in Minnesota. Wigington designed the Holman Field administration building as well as the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island and the Highland Park Water Tower — both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Duale was one of four recipients of the scholarship, which helps fund the completion of their professional education. It’s the first time the scholarship has been awarded to a Dunwoody College Bachelor of Architecture student since the program became eligible by receiving accreditation in 2019.
“I was absolutely honored to be awarded this scholarship considering that I was competing with many talented architecture students,” Duale said. “The judges recognized everything I had done in and out of college and that made me feel very proud of all the work I had done. I’m privileged to be a part of Dunwoody’s family, and I would like to thank Dunwoody’s amazing faculty for their assistance and help through my journey.”
The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) – Minneapolis chapter lists the current demographics of minority architects in the Twin Cities at less than three percent. It is a number that the industry would like to see increase.
Ganapathy is convinced that Duale will help see that purpose realized.
“I feel confident that Faiza has the sense of mission and the accompanying talent to truly make a difference to the profession,” Ganapahy said.