As part of an initiative with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), RS&H supports Florida A&M University’s School of Architecture and Engineering Technology. Students not only have an avenue to start their architecture career, but they also have access to some of RS&H’s most renowned designers.

Earlier this month, RS&H National Design Director Philip Robbie spent the day at FAMU, giving a lecture and leading a few studio exercises, as well as sitting down with upperclassmen to go over their portfolios.

“We feel a deep obligation to help those that are beginning their path in architecture,” Robbie said. “To see the work they’re doing, their unbridled enthusiasm, is really inspiring.”

Robbie presented a collection of work from his 40-year portfolio and hammered home his values that apply to any architecture project:

  • A building has to work for its intended purpose.
  • It must be in context with the surrounding culture, economy and environment.
  • The form should reflect our way of thinking and our values.

Robbie brought along with him paint brushes that he has used since he started his career in 1978, brushes that were soon put to work as he led groups of 18 through two watercolor painting sessions. The sessions were a first for some.

“You don’t want to paint the story of your life with a two-hair brush,” Robbie told the students. “You’ve got to come at these opportunities with joy and happiness. There’s no wrong way to do this, and yours is going to look different than everyone else’s.

“It’s that difference that you need to celebrate. A lot of this material is new to you, but the only way you can fail is to sit there and stare at it.”

Robbie’s teachings were in line with the dedication FAMU’s School of Architecture and Engineering Technology has to providing outstanding academic education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional school levels, with a particular emphasis on integrity, creativity and ethical conduct. The school is committed to motivational teaching, imaginative research, and meaningful community service.

“Since we are not in a major city, it’s important that we bring in professionals for reviews and lectures,” said Andrew Chin, the assistant dean of the school. This spring, FAMU is bringing in design directors from firms that were part of AIA Florida’s Large Firm Round Table.

“After five minutes, it was obvious that Philip had the energy and comfort level to connect with students,” Chin said. “No one has the passion that Philip displays for architecture and future architects. It was a joy to have him here.”

Robbie left behind brushes and paints. Less than two weeks later, he and the RS&H team were back on campus for Career Day.

“The relationship has been really rewarding for me,” Robbie said. “These students have game. They see things that may be unseen – and they see some trends before they happen. To help them hone their voice and their skills, it’s the greatest respect we can pay.”

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About the author

Joe VanHoose
Joe VanHoose
Joe is a storyteller with more than a decade of experience in media relations, with particular specialty in writing and promoting. He can be reached at joe.vanhoose@rsandh.com.