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Initiatives to Enhance Diversity

The IDC Foundation has funded the following initiatives that highlight and enhance diversity in the fields of architecture, engineering, and building construction:

The J. Max Bond Jr. Lecture Series

The IDC Foundation provided the lead gift to endow the J. Max Bond Jr. Lecture, organized annually by the National Organization of Minority Architects, the J. Max Bond Center of City University of New York, and the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The lecture honors the memory of J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA, NOMA, an architect, partner at Davis Brody Bond, advocate, teacher, and trailblazer. The lecture addresses issues that were important to Bond, including equity, inclusive design, and global cultures, in particular Africa (Ghana).


A video of the 2022 J. Max Bond Jr. Lecture – “Answering a Call to Action” – is available here.


A video of the 2021 J. Max Bond Jr. Lecture – “The Man, The Legacy” – is available here.

The Hilyard Robinson Scholars

The IDC Foundation provided funding to initiate and later endow the Hilyard Robinson Scholars Program, named in honor of Columbia GSAPP’s first African American graduate (in 1924) who later served as chair of the architecture department at Howard University. The Program seeks to expand and promote innovation within the fields of architecture and the built environment by creating opportunities to introduce diverse voices to the professions.

The Robinson Scholars program enables selected undergraduate students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities partnering with Columbia University to receive full-tuition scholarships to Columbia GSAPP’s Introduction to Architecture Program, a five-week summer intensive established in 1991 and designed as an exploratory experience structured to accommodate a range of skills and experience.

The Robinson Scholars are supported by an advisor, who brings the group together for discussions and conducts open office hours for individuals. Robinson Scholars are also eligible to apply to participate in the work of the GSAPP Housing Lab.

The IDC Norma Merrick Sklarek Lectureship and Workshop – Barnard College of Columbia University

The IDC Foundation provided a two-year grant to Barnard College to initiate an annual lecture and workshop in honor of alumna Norma Merrick Sklarek focused on the intersection of architectural design, engineering, and diversity, equity, and social justice issues. One of the first African-American women architects in the United States, Sklarek attended Barnard College from 1944-45 and subsequently received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Columbia University. In 1980, she became the first Black woman elected to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows.


The annual lecture, to be inaugurated in 2023, will feature a prominent leader and innovator known for breaking barriers to inclusivity in architecture, engineering, and the building professions. The lecture will be open to the entire community including students and faculty from Barnard, Columbia, and other New York institutions. The lecturer will also lead a workshop in Barnard’s Design Center specifically for Barnard students interested in architecture, design, and engineering. The goals of the lecture and workshop are to give broader exposure to the diversity of practitioners in building fields, and to create a sense of belonging for students from diverse backgrounds who are considering entering these fields.

STEAM in the City Mentorship Network – Barnard College

Funding from the IDC Foundation is enabling Barnard College to add an architecture mentoring component for area high school students to its STEAM in the City summer program. The goals of Barnard’s STEAM in the City program are to contribute discipline-specific training to New York City’s public school teachers, strengthen the resources and education available to local children, build upon Barnard’s efforts to bolster the STEAM pipeline for women and underrepresented minorities, and help activate park and outdoor space that unites (rather than divides) the Harlem and Morningside Heights communities. The specific goals for the new Mentorship Network program component are increasing Harlem adolescent girls’ exposure to higher education and careers in the building fields in general, especially the holistic and interdisciplinary approach to architectural and engineering training.


Program planning and curriculum development began in 2022. The Mentorship Network will be inaugurated in the summer of 2023.

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