Featured Maker: Alicia Olushola Ajayi

Study Architecture is planning to revive the Featured Makers series this summer. Reigniting the series with featured maker, Alicia Olushola Ajayi who is an architectural designer, writer, teacher and researcher. She is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP.

Ajayi attended the University of Colorado Boulder for her bachelor’s degree in environmental design, architecture. She went on to attend the Washington University in St. Louis to obtain a dual masters of architecture and social work.

Read Alicia Olushola Ajayi: letter to a young architect

During her time at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Alicia completed a master of design research, and wrote her thesis project “We Call it Freedom Village: Brooklyn, Illinois’ Radical Tactics of Black Place-Making”. Ajayi learned about Brooklyn as a graduate architecture student at Washington University in St. Louis. Recognizing the historical disenfranchisement in spatial practices, Ajayi knew that if architecture could be biased against Blacks, it could also be reversed and used to benefit the Black community. Her intention for her thesis became to seek new spatial practices that would benefit Black communities.

Her thesis project was supported by the School of Visual Arts Alumni Association, the New York State Art Council on the Arts, and the Architectural League’s Deborah J. Norden Travel Grant.

Thesis Project Summary:

“Alicia Ajayi will study the town of Brooklyn, Illinois, which sits directly across from St. Louis, Missouri, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. As Ajayi describes her project: ‘Brooklyn is a small Black town with 700 residents, and the town motto of ‘Founded by Chance, Sustained by Courage.’ Local oral histories claim that in 1829 eleven families led by Priscilla ‘Mother’ Baltimore left Missouri and crossed the mighty Mississippi [from] a slave state, into Illinois, a free state… Once on the promised land of freedom, the group settled in a secluded wooded area near the riverbanks in what is called a ‘freedom village’ by scholars and local historians. Brooklyn, thought to be involved in the Underground Railroad activity, became a place for Black agency and self-realization. In 1873, Brooklyn became the first Black incorporated village.’

“Black town-building was an important tactic deployed during the Black protonationalist movement that emerged in the nineteenth century and lasted well into the Jim Crow era (1877–1950s). Brooklyn, IL is an example of how Blacks pursued freedom and eventually power with tactics of place-making. In other words, making Black space was and continues to be a radical act. Ajayi’s research is an ongoing effort to fill in the gaps of architectural history and history at large while exploring the complicated nuance of Black participation in the same capitalist system that oppressed them. The research will include extensive mapping and spatial studies, material culture studies, and documentation of oral stories.”

To continue reading Ajayi’s thesis, please click here.


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Tips for Securing an Architecture Internship

Let’s talk about applying to your first internship. This can be a challenging endeavor for a variety of reasons but like any new experience, there is always an upside. Whether it is the summer before your freshman year or your junior year of college, internships are one of the best ways to gain firsthand experience in your area of interest. Often the people we meet early in our careers are a valuable resource for years to come. Here are a few tips as you put together your summer and fall plans.

Let your personality shine through your resume. 

Play with the layout and design of the document. A memorable resume is a great first impression. Don’t be afraid to play with nontraditional elements. Include an “Interests” section if you have unique hobbies.


ACSA’s research shows firm principals hire people who are passionate about their work. Be prepared to share why you are passionate about architecture and design.

Follow your favorite companies on social media.

Companies realize that social media is often the first location for brand interaction. Many companies share their hiring goals on social media for that exact reason. You can learn about the HR department, hear from current employees about their experiences at the firm, get to know the type of projects the firm takes on, and decide if that is the right environment for you.

Google the person who will be interviewing you.

Take a little time and research a few people at the firm. You can start with the people who will be interviewing you or the partners at the firm.

Job-Person Fit

Be ready to ask hard questions. What is their stance on racial and gender inequity? How do they ensure employees get paid equitably? Interviews are just as much for you as they are for them.


Always run spellcheck however if you can send it to a family member or friend, a second set of eyes is always best practice. Architecture is a detail-oriented profession so don’t forget to focus on the details.

Send only 2-3 of your best work examples.

Respect the hiring manager’s time by selecting only the work you are most proud of that showcases a variety of your skills and strengths. Less is more. Files that are too large may be blocked from their server.

Send a thank-you email the following day.

After interviewing with your first-choice company, leave a lasting impression by reaching out and expressing your gratitude.


Interested in 2022 summer internships? Click here.

Please verify with the company as availability may have changed since the posting of this article.

Contact us at to add your Scholarship, Organization, or Resource to a future post. 

2016 StudyArchitecture Gift Guide

Are you making a list, checking it twice? Looking for a gift for an architecture student? Look no further! StudyArchitecture has compiled a Holiday Gift Guide with 10 amazing gifts that are designed by architecture students or architects!

1. Ergonomic Craft Knife by ErgoKiwi

Start the semester off right with an ergonomic knife made by Boston Architectural College (BAC) graduate, Sean Riley! Save your fingers for eating yummy holiday treats. Read about the process of making the ErgoKiwi on #imadethat’s blog!

ErgoKiwi – Plastic $ / Plywood $$


The Plywood ErgoKiwi

ergokiwi_assortment ergokiwi_graphicergokiwi_gif

2. Leather Goods by NoNameLeathers

You really can’t go wrong with a new NoNameLeather belt or bag. Ladies, Parsons Graduate Student Nick Tafel has made the perfect LBB (little black bag) just for you called the Jackie-O. And who doesn’t want to be like Jackie-O, amirite? Want to know how Nick makes the Stealth Roosevelt Wallet? Read about it on IMADETHAT!

NoNameLeathers – Belts $$ / Bags $$$ / Accessories $


The Jackie-O by NoNameLeathers-

3. Floral Workshop or Arrangement by Anthemum

Founded by architecture graduate Bianca Tafares, Anthemum provides floral styling & design for any occasion. They’ve done weddings, events, single arrangements, installations, and more! Anthemum is located in the Austin/San Antonio area, so if you are in that area, make sure to contact her for more info on her work! Read about how Bianca got her start! Bianca studied architecture at the University of Texas at San Antonio!

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4. Laser cut Jewelry by Etch

Dust off the sawdust from your glasses and feast your eyes on these beautiful designs from hair clips to necklaces to home goods, Etch has what your architecture friends want for Christmas! ETCH is the brainchild of designers Mallory Estopinal and Zoe Ganch who formed their creative union while pursuing an architecture degree. Mallory, a New Orleans native with a keen eye for all things graphically compelling, and Zoe Ganch, a French-American design nut with a triangle obsession, partnered up for a group design project and the rest is history. Together, they combined their geeky love for product design, digital fabrication, and bold geometry to create products for the modern go-getter who craves originality in fashion and the home. They both studied architecture at LSU.

Follow them on Instagram and Pinterest! Pin Pin Pin, pin pin pin, pin pin pin their pins.

etchhome_bourbon etch_home etchhome_kinfolk

5. Golden Rings by Jenny Wu

Need some 3D printed BLING for your holiday parties? Check out the LACE collection by architect Jenny Wu’s rings. The MOBIUS gold has us crushing hard. These metal rings are sure to make you swoon. LACE is a line of 3D printed wearable designs by Jenny Wu, a partner in the architecture office, Oyler Wu Collaborative. Jenny Wu received a B.A. from Columbia University and M.Arch from Harvard Graduate School of Design or where she is currently teaching at Columbia.

Mobius Gold by Jenny Wu

Mobius Gold by Jenny Wu

6. Box of Macarons by MadMacsDallas

Hungry in Dallas? Want to taste some delicious hand-crafted southwestern inspired French delicacies made by an architect and an engineer? Look no further than MadMacsDallas. We suggest the Chile con Limon Macaron or PB&J. Founder Ana Paredes studied architecture at Arizona State University.

MadMacsDallas – Box ranging from $12-24

Check out IMADETHAT’s feature on MadMacsDallas and learn how to make a Macaron!



7. Custom Surfboard by Wax/Surf Co.

Escape the icy chill and find yourself on a beach in LA, basking in the sun. What’s missing? A custom surfboard from Wax/Surf Co. designed by partners Tyler Jorgenson and his partner Michael Farley, graduates of the University of Arizona at Wax/Surf Co., would be the perfect gift for the water lover on your list.

Now in stores near you… if you are in Venice, CA, of course.

Lone Wolfs  –  2545 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Deus Ex Machina – 1001 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Read more about their work here!



8. A:LOG Notebook by A:LOG

You know how architecture students are about their notebooks. Here is the ULTIMATE resource for them! It is a hybrid between the Architecture Studio Companion and a very well-crafted notebook. This idea was generated by the great minds of three graduate architecture students at Columbia University, Paul, Rich and Ebbe.


9. Archigrams by Michie Cao

In a quest to make iconic modern buildings more accessible (and portable) to those who do not benefit from a history of architecture survey course or seeing them in real life, Michie Cao took it upon herself to illustrate and explain the importance of some of the most well-known modern architectural buildings and their architects. She calls the project: Archigrams. The idea came to her during her time as an architecture student at University of California, Los Angeles while studying for her architecture history exams. We got to chat with Michie recently about her design process, from inspiration to prototyping and, finally, to her highly successful Kickstarter campaign. (Psst, she’s also the designer behind our IMadeThat logotype.)

Archigrams by Michie Cao

Archigrams by Michie Cao


10. Camera gear

Architects are storytellers. Through the shaping of an idea into reality through materials and craft, architects tell stories of culture, place, time and people. The tools to help architects tell stories exists even within our pockets. After chatting with Ian Harris about the power of video as storyteller, we started #crushin on those pieces of gear that can help us tell that story. He recommends a 4/3rd sensor mirrorless camera and a solid zoom from very wide, around 20/25mm, to 85/100mm. Read more about the process of telling the story of architecture through film in his feature on StudyArchitecture’s blog called “Architecture Filmmaking and Storytelling with Ian Harris.”

Here is a list of gear that he recommends.

Ian Harris with his camera gear

Ian Harris with his camera gear

Happy Holidays everyone! Make sure to check back next year for more stories about architecture students and faculty! And always, follow @imadethat_ and @studyarchitecture on Instagram and Twitter.