In the Interest of the Public
(and his Fellow Students):
MAF Scholarship Winner Anthony Vannoy Sets Out to
Make Architecture (and Learning Opportunities) More Accessible


Anthony (Tony) Vannoy is having a busy year. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture degree, recently started the 5th year of his architecture program at the University of Detroit Mercy, and interned at the firm Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED). He also developed an online study group to help fellow UDM architecture students study for the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) exam.

“With COVID-19 restrictions making it difficult, even impossible, for students to participate in internships and community projects, I wanted to create a continuing education experience that could benefit them now, and in the future”, said Tony. “I approached the Dean of the UDM School of Architecture (Dan Pitera, FAIA) with the idea, and with the school’s support and assistance, we made it happen.” Weekly study sessions are held online, with the intention that once it is safe for testing centers to re-open, students will be ready to take the exam. “It’s an opportunity for students to not only gain more knowledge during a challenging time, but also get a leg up as they head into completing their degree program and begin professional practice.”

Taking the initiative to provide value to his fellow students is one of the qualities that made Tony a natural choice to receive MAF’s 2020 HED Alvin Ernest Harley AIAS Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes a deserving student who demonstrates leadership involvement and active participation in their American Institute of Architect’s Student (AIAS) Chapter. Through his involvement in AIAS and the student chapter of the National Association of Minority Architects (NOMA), Tony helped create a public park in Detroit’s Bagley neighborhood. “It’s what I love most about architecture – community engagement, and the potential to leave a mark through public interest design work for projects like parks and market spaces.”

Tony’s interest in becoming an architect started young. “My dad is in real estate, and I was always curious about what his project design and construction team members did, particularly the architects. Eventually, I even worked with him on some projects. Being exposed to architecture at a young age and in that environment really stuck with me.”

Tony also has had the opportunity to work on health care projects during his internship, and is interested in how safer systems can be implemented as part of the health care design process, particularly in light of the pandemic.

But public interest architecture remains Tony’s favorite type of architecture – and he thinks it is instrumental in improving quality of life. “Public interest architecture makes design accessible to people who may not otherwise be exposed to or able to afford good design, and benefit from its positive effects on the way we live and experience space,” he says.

“Public interest architecture puts that opportunity in reach of everyone.”

Photos clockwise from top left: Tony and fellow architecture program students on a firm tour; two of Tony’s final project boards (done with class partner Jordan Zanier.)