Gibbs College Celebrates 2024 Design Activism Awards

On April 22, the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture celebrated the annual Gibbs Design Activism Awards. The GDAA is a grant initiative that supports student-led design and research projects that engage topics of community, social and economic concerns across Oklahoma. 

At the event, the 2023-2024 GDAA grant recipients presented their projects. Additionally, the 2024-2025 grant recipients were announced. Read on to learn more about the award-winning projects. 

2023-2024 GDAA Projects 

“CUT: A spatial story outlining the socioeconomic plight of historical Black townships in Oklahoma.” 

Giselle Walker, Bachelor of Environmental Design, fourth year, Master of Landscape Architecture, first year. 

This project serves as a tool and searchable database for incorporated All-Black Oklahoman townships established between 1865 and 1920. Locations outlined using ArcGIS Story Maps will highlight historical points of significance before state interventions and 1960 urban blight removal efforts. The stories portray a contrast of the built environment between past and present by identifying events and locations of significance through documented and oral histories. This tool paints the picture of history and the potential for future branding efforts. Highlighted assets or spaces can be used externally as opportunities to recover and reclaim history, or to increase cultural tourism and awareness. 

Giselle Walker presenting at the 2024 GDAA Reception.

“Spatializing Refugees during Resettlement: Investigating the Role of Built Environment in Refugee Children’s Well-being” 

Salma Akter, Ph.D., Interior Design, second year. 

This study investigated refugee children’s well-being through the built environment lens, analyzing how different scales impact their daily lives. Focused on Tulsa, a major resettlement city for people of the “Zomi” ethnic group, refugees of the Burmese diaspora, this research carried out semi-structured interviews and photovoice sessions with refugee mothers, alongside creative design workshops with children. The goal was to uncover environmental factors affecting their psycho-physical and social well-being, aiming to contribute to humanitarian efforts, particularly aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goal 11. Through this exploration, the study seeks to shed light on the challenges and opportunities within refugee housing environments, informing strategies for more inclusive and supportive communities. 

2024-2025 GDAA Grant Recipients 

“Community Catalyst: Providing Architectural Support for Sisu Youth Services, Inc. Oklahoma City” 

Emma Eitzen, Accelerated Master of Architecture, fourth year. 

Jordan Hughes, Accelerated Master of Architecture, fourth year. 

Gracie Kimbrell, Master of Architecture, first year. 

Faculty Mentor: Ron Frantz, FAIA, Director, Environmental Design Program. 

“National Organization of Minority Architects: Architecture: Critical Thinking and its Role.” 

 Hishaam Ramoly, Accelerated Master of Architecture, fourth year. 

 Matthew Hopkins, Accelerated Master of Architecture, fourth year. 

 Faculty Mentors: John Harris, Director, Division of Planning, Landscape Architecture and Design, and Christopher Loofs, Robert L. Wesley Teaching Fellow. 

The 2024-2025 GDAA grant recipients with Architecture Professor Wanda Katja Liebermann.