Many kids suffer from a lack of exposure, and form their life based on only what they can see. Architectural Designer and Lighting Designer, Jimmie Drummond has shown that you can always build your dreams, regardless of how big they are. This Howard University alum continues to leave his mark on his family, community, and more. He went from Howard University to becoming the first African American to graduate with a dual-degree in Lighting Design and Architecture in the country.
Even at a small age Jimmie followed his passions. He didn’t know how it would manifest, but he nurtured what came naturally to him. Growing up, this kid from Prince George County in Maryland enjoyed sketching and painting people, nature, and animals.
“My parents weren’t artists or creatives, so I wasn’t exposed to much architecture,” says Drummond. However, eventually he found himself sketching beautiful homes. He was curious about building and design.
Howard University was the perfect environment for Jimmie to see others like him pursuing their passions. This was the beginning of a career where not many architects looked like him, and that confidence was priceless. After earning his Bachelors of Fine Arts (B. FA) in Interior Design from Howard, he was in great shape to enter Parsons in New York City. Or so he thought.
On one hand NYC opened Jimmie’s eyes to his relationship with architecture as a black man, and how he viewed himself. He realized Parsons really appreciated students from unique backgrounds, with an international student body including students from Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. He felt embraced as a black man, so underrepresented in his field.
However, academically, there was the feeling that Jimmie needed to catch up. ”Unlike many grad architecture students, I was completely unaware of basic knowledge or references of famous architecture, landmarks, architects, and common terms.” Over time he realized how knowledgeable his classmates were of what they considered “the basics.” It was a humbling setback, but a catalyst for further success. He left Parsons with a Masters in Architecture and a Masters of Fine Arts (M.FA) in Lighting Design.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Jimmie now calls the shots at his own business, Drummond Projects, which practices at the intersection of light, space, and architecture. Clients can receive tailored residential, commercial work-space, and retail design services. Jimmie has found a successful formula with his team of creative and dedicated designers, architects, engineers, and builders that are committed to detailed-oriented, human-centered, sustainable design solutions across scales. Although Jimmie is currently based in Washington, D.C., his current projects span there and beyond to cities like Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Chicago.
Jimmie continues to live on the notion that his career is a marathon and not a sprint. He still rarely sees black architects, and wants to change that. Future black architects are burdened with a lack of opportunity, expense, and exposure.
“I feel I have a responsibility and obligation to my family, my communities, and my race to fulfill what most architects haven’t been able to do for many reasons. I give you three of many: The first, I believe architecture is the most powerful manifestation of power. It’s something white people have controlled for generations. So I find the idea of having a “license to build” the most professionally liberating feeling to have,” Jimmie says.
Amid all his of accomplishments, Jimmie has shared that his most prized project was the ability to design his own mother’s 12,000 square foot commercial office space based near Washington, D.C.!
Learn more about Jimmie and how he manifests his dreams at Drummond Projects here.