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Future Architect Award program champions diversity

The Cornell Future Architect Award (CFAA) program, in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, recently concluded its fifth year, with virtual programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Zoom session with the 2020 CFAA program cohort. Clockwise from top left: Max Leston; Stephanie Resue, assistant director of admissions; Nicholas Thomas; José Ortega; and David Morales.

The program gives rising high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity for a full scholarship to attend AAP’s Introduction to Architecture Summer Program. Instructors for this summer’s online program were Henry Richardson, professor of architecture; and Luben Dimcheff, B.Arch. ’99, assistant professor of architecture.

This year’s cohort included: Maximilian Leston, Chaminade High School, Mineola, New York; David Morales, Lake View High School, Chicago; José Ortega, United Nations International School, New York City; and Nicholas Thomas, Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago.

Each member of the cohort is paired with an alumni mentor who advises them on developing their portfolio and preparing for an interview before, during and after the summer coursework. For example, Ortega was paired with Ricardo Zurita, B.Arch. ’84, principal of New York City-based Ricardo Zurita Architecture & Planning, P.C.

“We discussed how our interest in architecture came to be,” Ortega said, “and I found it particularly interesting how many similarities we shared – as New Yorkers, and as Hispanic Americans who are relatively new to the field of architecture.”

To date, CFAA has funded scholarships for 32 students, including the 2020 cohort. Through last year, 17 of 28 CFAA scholars applied to the Cornell Bachelor of Architecture program; nine were admitted and seven matriculated.

CFAA was established in 2016 with seed funding from Bill ’69 and Catherine Perez.

A version of this story appears on the AAP website.

– Patti Witten

Media Contact

Gillian Smith