An architect’s gift opens doors for underrepresented graduate students
the Clemson University School of Architecture is honored to announce a newly endowed scholarship for historically underserved and underrepresented students, courtesy of a grant from architect and Clemson alumnus Thomas Phifer ’75, M ’77. The Thomas Phifer Scholarship will support the School of Architecture tuition for two graduate students for two years from underserved and underrepresented communities, with the goal of increasing access and broadening a more diverse pathway within the architectural profession in South Carolina.
“By opening new opportunities to underserved and underrepresented communities, we are strengthening the diversity of voices in our lives, offering the promise of a more inclusive, open and welcoming architecture,” said Thomas Phifer. “I hope others will join me in supporting this scholarship fund that provides education for all.”
In addition, Phifer sets up an annual one-year preceptorship at its New York City studio for a second-year School of Architecture graduate student.
“Thomas Phifer is a point of pride as an alumnus of the school,” said James Stevens, principal of the school of architecture. “This donation is essential to support our underrepresented students, who may not otherwise be able to pursue a career in architecture. Not only is he committed to supporting them financially, but he is also committed to mentoring and training selected students in Thomas’s studio – an invaluable contribution to our students, our institution and our profession.
I want to honor the state of South Carolina where I was born and raised, a place that means so much to me, by elevating the presence of a more diverse community. Architecture school was the start of everything for me. That transformative experience of so many years ago is still alive in me today, and I would like to pass that inclusive philosophy on to the next generation. If we all learn this way, then we will teach this way. -Thomas Phifer, architect
The School of Architecture has an important historical role in the University’s progress towards greater diversity. Harvey Gantt, Clemson’s first African-American graduate, is an alumnus of the school of architecture, earning his BA in architecture with honors in 1965. Ray Huff, director of the Clemson Design Center in Charleston, was one of the first African-American students to follow in Gantt’s steps, and he spearheaded efforts to increase the diversity of the School of Architecture’s student body.
“This scholarship will provide an unprecedented opportunity for students of color to pursue architecture as a vocation, allowing their voices, instincts, and unique advantage to become useful and announced in the canon of architecture,” said Ray Huff. .
Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities at Clemson University, welcomed the gift as one that would directly support the College’s vision.
“Our College is proud to lead the University in recruiting underrepresented students, but there is still a long way to go,” Vazsonyi said. “Thomas Phifer’s generosity advances our goals of creating a more diverse student body in a critically important graduate program.”
“I want to honor the state of South Carolina where I was born and raised, a place that means so much to me, by elevating the presence of a more diverse community. Architecture school was the start of everything for me. That transformative experience of so many years ago is still alive in me today, and I would like to pass that inclusive philosophy on to the next generation. If we all learn this way, then we will teach this way,” Phifer said.
About Thomas Phifer
Since founding Thomas Phifer and Partners in 1997, Thomas Phifer has completed the Glenstone Museum expansion in Potomac, Maryland, the Corning Museum of Glass expansion in Corning, New York, the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah , the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas, an outdoor performance pavilion in Austin, and numerous homes in the Hudson River Valley in New York State.
Current projects include the TR Warszawa Museum of Modern Art and Theater in Warsaw, the Cine Colombia headquarters in Bogotá, a student center and international studies center for Indiana University in Bloomington, and the South Battery Park City Resilience Project in Lower Manhattan. Thomas Phifer is also engaged in private residences in Portugal, Texas, Maine and New York.
Thomas Phifer received the prestigious Rome Award for Architecture from the American Academy in Rome in 1995 and received the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2004. He was elected an Academician of the National Academy of Design. in 2011. In 2013, Mr. Phifer received the Arts and Letters Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2016 he was honored by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with the President’s Award and by Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation. He also gave the 2016 keynote lecture at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. In 2019 he received the National Design Award in Architectural Design from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Mr. Phifer is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York and Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation.
Thomas Phifer has been a visiting professor at numerous schools of architecture, including the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Cooper Union, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Mr. Phifer was named the William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design and the Louis I Kahn Visiting Professor of Architectural Design, both at the Yale School of Architecture. Mr. Phifer received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1975 and his Master of Architecture in 1977, both from Clemson University. In 1977, he studied at the Clemson Architecture Center in Genoa, Italy.