Maya Bird-Murphy

Maya Bird-Murphy

Chicago, IL, US


Master of Architecture Thesis: Chicago Mobile Makers

America holds countless examples of space that segregates, degrades and encourages inequality. Although this built injustice is overwhelmingly felt by marginalized communities, the group responsible for building America's built environment is 85% white. Architecture, the profession and the built world, is elitist and inaccessible to most. There must be a way for underrepresented groups to begin their journey through the white, male dominated design field and for marginalized communities to build positive change in dis-invested environments. Chicago Mobile Makers is a safe and supportive space where brown and black youth, poor youth, LGBTQIA+ youth, girls etc. are exposed to architecture, design, community place-making and basic construction early through design-build workshops that empower students while they build applicable skills. Students look closely at their own neighborhoods, identify opportunities and threats and see their work realized in their own communities. This world will not be equal until it is built by, and for, all. This thesis - and the non-profit organization that will stem from it - will challenge the meaning and current focus of traditional architectural practice and education.

My thesis asks and responds to these questions:

  • How can we diversify the architecture field?
  • How can we improve low-income, blighted, marginalized, and/or forgotten neighborhoods?
  • How can we make the built environment more equitable?

The full thesis book can be viewed here.

The research and development completed during this thesis was developed into a nonprofit organization in September 2017.

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Status: School Project