Ernest is an urban designer and architectural designer with national experience in master planning, commercial, and retail projects. He’s a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (MUD ’18), as well as the Illinois Institute of Technology (B.Arch ’09). He was first exposed to Pittsburgh as a UDREAM program alum (’12), where the fellowship provided an opportunity for him to intern with the late Gary Carlough at EDGE Studio (now GBBN, Pittsburgh). Since August 2018, he is has worked as an Urban Designer in the Pittsburgh office of AE7.
A native of Miami, FL, Ernest is the first in his family to pursue a career path within architecture. Starting his first professional internship in 2000, via Design & Architecture Sr. High School, through College, University, and professional practice, Ernest has amassed a diverse range of industry experience in Civil Engineering, Architecture, and Master planning. With jaunts in the varied milieus of Chicago, Miami, and Pittsburgh, came an understanding that not all cities, communities, neighborhoods, or buildings are the same. In this recognition, attention to the subtle details of how life is lived by those who dwell in a place became critical.
Utilizing Architecture as a foundation, outside the office, Ernest works as an advocate for Fair Housing, Social Justice, Equitable Community Development, Transit planning & development, and early childhood ACE and STEAM Education in underserved communities.
Q & A
Why is licensure important to you?
I get to finish an intent I started when I was a young boy, drawing skyscrapers and masterplans of an imagined future. In licensure, I’m insuring a world of possibility for myself within the profession, unrestricted.
In licensure, I’m continuing my family’s legacy of upward progression and history of upward mobility; feeling absolute confidence when telling people “I’m an Architect” with no preconditions.
How do you think the architecture profession can improve equity and diversity?
How much time do you have?
Growing up in Miami in the ’80s and ’90s, I had the rare fortune to grow up in an ultra diverse community. I had to come to terms at a young age of understanding individuals from diverse backgrounds not of my own. Refugees, migrants, ex-pats, 1st generation American, native American, all coalescing in one city, in real-time. Learning to respect those from different racial, religious, and social values than what I grew up with, daily, made me more aware of how important it was to strive for and allow spaces to exist for equity. While Miami is far from a utopia, the lessons learned in my youth, gave me perspective on how to help support and build a more equitable environment in spaces greater challenged.
In 2019, there are too many misunderstandings, misevaluations, and unconscious bias within the profession. From candid talks with my professional colleagues across Pennsylvania and my own lived experience as a design professional, too often do I find myself having to correct an invalid inference. For this, we have to be willing to have open dialogues about our assumptions, misevaluations, and callus beliefs about those we work alongside that have a different lived experience than our own.
We also have to have to ensure the opportunity for open and honest conversations from those who feel voiceless, harmed, or unsupported in our offices as well as those who already left, feeling estranged from a work culture/environment.
Within our competitive natured profession, we have to find time to pause and reflect. We have to allow for a space of empathy, and honest dialogue to transpire across our offices, more than an HR mandate, or checklist item to be asked once but never followed up on; we have to tackle this as equals, devoid of the hierarchy which may prevent some from speaking up more candidly.
There’s no easy answer or a simple fix, but if we start incrementally and support our professionals. we can repair the harm of our antiquated past generations of thinking/working. We can push forward towards achieving tomorrow’s promise of a more equitable future, today.
What inspires you to continuously give of your time and talent?
Giving back has always been important to me because of how much others have given and invested in me. Without a legion of Architects helping me along my 20-year journey from High School until now, I wouldn’t have gained all that I achieved.
Giving back, volunteering, community service, they are all part of what I witnessed, and how I honor those who have invested in me.
At every job, with every school I’ve ever attended, an Architect and their staff have taken time to instill in me the proper skills and needed to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Each stop different, each learned skill unique. In their dedication to ensuring that I know the proper skills needed to succeed, I find the inspiration to give back to the next generation under me so that they have the opportunity to be a better version of myself