|By: Hilton Guidry|
At first, the program was called Architectural Drafting and was offered along with other building trade programs such as carpentry, plumbing, welding and brick laying. One of the first graduates of the Architecture program included August Perez, founder of the Perez Architecture Firm. Since the 1940s, the Perez firm has designed many office buildings and landscape architecture that can be found throughout New Orleans and across the country. From the early beginnings (when students learned to design and draw chicken coops), the program has grown, and in the 1960s students could earn an associate's degree in Architectural/Design Construction Technology (an ATMAE accredited program).
Delgado Students August Perez & Horace Trepagnier
Today you will find many graduates of the program working for architecture firms, construction companies and design firms both locally and nationally. According to professor and department head P. Victor Mirzai, all the classes offered are completely full with many eager students looking to get into this exciting career. Students can expect to find an entry level job paying between $35 – 40K a year in the New Orleans area upon graduation.
The program and its students are actively involved and affiliated with a number of business and industry organizations (NAHB, HBA, CSI, NAWIC, AIA and CMAA) on the local and national level. Many students have completed service learning projects in the community and have worked closely with local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity (designing Katrina houses), the SPCA (designing dog houses) and the Preservation Resource Center and Historic Districts Landmark Commission (neighborhood revitalization projects and landmark designations). The Architecture program also takes pride in its strong industry affiliation and support of its Alumni, along with an active student organization called DASO (Delgado Architecture Student Organization).
Students working on Katrina Houses
Habitat for Humanity service learning project
With 28 years at Delgado, Professor Mirzai has seen this program grow and win many awards. The program recently placed first in the nation for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Outstanding Student Chapter program (2008) and had top five finishes over the last several years. The Architecture program also participates in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) CANstruction Design/Build Competitions. This unique competition helps the Second Harvest Food Bank collect can goods to feed the needy people of New Orleans. In 2010, Delgado's entry "MaCAN Music In Da Neighborhood" won the award for best meal award and people's choice award. Delgado's Architecture team has won six top CANstruction awards in the past years and in May 2011 (when the AIA National Convention was held in New Orleans) the Delgado team was the only team that showcased a CANstruction display for the conventioneers at the river walk.
Award Winning Project "MaCAN Music In Da Neighborhood"
A couple of recent projects Delgado students worked on include the Louisiana Medal of Honor Park & Museum in Belle Chase design, getting the Isaac Delgado Hall on the national registry and a campus pavilion that will be located near the lagoon.
For the Louisiana Medal of Honor Park, students were asked to present a design and model for Plaquemines Parish leaders so they could have an idea what the park would look like. Five students worked on the project and park planners were so pleased with it, they decided to use their concept.
Model For the Louisiana Medal Of Honor Park
A few years ago the National Park Service decided to ask architectural and construction schools around the country to promote the restoration and development of significant historic buildings. Realizing that his students had the historical Isaac Delgado Hall building on campus, Professor Mirzai asked five students to work on the project to produce drawings that documented the building from the ground up. The drawings were entered into a competition in Washington D.C. The students’ hard work paid off and the building is now in the Library of Congress as a National Register of Historic Buildings.
Architectural Drawing of Isaac Delgado Hall for the National Register
The Delgado campus has been needing a multipurpose pavilion for a few years now. So the Student Government Association VP of Policy, David Teagle, approached Professor Mirzai about having one of his students design the project. A committee was formed to choose the winning design and Delgado architect student Jessica Ferrera's model was chosen. Construction should begin this fall with hopes for the pavilion to be ready in time for Delgado's 90th anniversary.
When the Delgado Architecture program started 90 years ago, students would sketch and draw their designs. And even today with the advancement in technology and AutoCAD (computer assisted design software), students still need to be able to sketch designs freehand BEFORE they can lay it out in AutoCAD. As Professor Mirzai puts it, "You have to crawl before you walk". It just goes to show you, some things never change, even over 90 years!