Building an Architectural Practice on Passionate Curiosity

Most budding architects don’t get a crack at building something ambitious until well into their college years.

But that’s not Khan Muhammad. The first thing Khan chose to design was a secondary school career – his own.

Home schooled from an early age, Khan got a jump-start on making thoughtful life decisions. “For me, learning came in the form of hands-on experience, coupled with my online lessons,” he recalls. “In this fundamentally flexible curriculum, discipline and time management were the skills I had to acquire at the outset — I had no physical teachers to steer me. The responsibility fell upon my shoulders to remain active and well-versed, just like any student in public school.”

Opportunities that might not otherwise have been accessible were available because, he says, “a passionate curiosity drove me to venture beyond the contents of my textbooks.  Were it not for my experience of being home schooled, I would have learned these skills much later. In hindsight, that was the catalyst that sparked my future endeavors.”

Among those endeavors is Woodbury’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architect Students (NOMAS), where Khan has made his mark, and then some.

“I first got involved with NOMAS through volunteering as a mentor at the Annual SoCal NOMAS Architecture and Engineering Summer Camp,” he says. “The regional chapter, SoCal NOMAS, hosted the program to expose students from South Central L.A. and surrounding areas to community-oriented architecture, urban planning and engineering.”

Khan describes the summer camp as one node on a national initiative known as Project Pipeline. “Its mission is to enable students to matriculate into architecture school, where they can receive ongoing support through NOMAS student chapters,” he explains.  “I wanted to help advance that mission.  Fortunately, I found a community of peers who shared this vision and together, we created that next node in the pipeline at Woodbury.”

Two years on, Khan is now the SoCal student representative of NOMAS at USC, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Baptist and, of course, Woodbury. His goal: increase the number of architecture students of color to graduate and seek licensure.

In that, Khan is both a participant and a proponent of IPAL, Woodbury’s Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure program. “The program was one of the many reasons why I chose Woodbury’s BArch curriculum,” he says. “The IPAL program offers numerous resources to support students by obtaining AXP hours and internships. It has been beyond helpful in achieving my goal of becoming a licensed architect, my dream career.”

“I was fortunate to have found my north star at a young age,” Khan recalls.  “I knew I wanted to be an architect and that has contributed to my being steadfast in school.” These days, he’s especially taken with building assembly, a byproduct of his association with structural engineers during the ACE Mentoring Program in high school. The integration of bio mimicry in architecture, net zero architecture, the future of city planning, the synergy of architecture and robotics – it’s all fascinating for Khan.

He’s been able to test out his architectural chops as an intern for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s Architectural Division, where he guided a group of fellow interns to schedule, create, compile, and conduct a design charrette package for the $200 million P3 Project.

For Khan Muhammad, the sky really does appear to be the limit.

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