In West Africa’s Ghana, one can discover a unique blend of ancient and modern architecture. From the triangular walls of the revered Larabanga Mosque to the curving slopes of the National Theatre, the country has a rich history of building design.
Looking to leave her own mark on Ghana’s architecture and infrastructure is architecture student Nke Adwowa Opoku, who hails from East Legon, a town within the country’s capital city, Accra.
A member of New York Tech’s chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students and the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students on the Long Island campus, Opoku’s passion for the field runs deep.
So deep, in fact, that she was named one of 2023’s National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Future Faces (NFF).
“Being named as an NFF means to be a voice and a champion for developing and propelling the next generation of Black and minority architects who will be designing for the future,” Opoku says. “This is an affirmation that architecture is the right field for me.”
As one of this year’s Future Faces, Opoku had the opportunity to join a cohort of 13 architecture students and graduates who spread across the United States to take part in two-month summer fellowships at leading architecture firms.
From June to August, Opoku completed her fellowship at NAC Architecture in Seattle, a design firm dedicated to creating spaces combining functionality and beauty. While there, she worked mainly on a school district task, creating and developing project renders. Secondary projects included assisting with graphics for other schools and joining in on Justice and Equity for Diversity and Inclusion Council Community of Practice meetings.
Opoku also had the chance to be involved in the local community when she volunteered at NOMA’s Project Pipeline—an architecture summer camp for middle school and high school students—and at the Seattle Design Festival.
“Not only did I learn more about how to use design software like Revit, Enscape, and Photoshop, but I learned more about the business side of architecture as well. I discovered different paths and design focuses in the profession and how to better work as part of a team,” she says. “Being a fellow and interning with NAC really helped me visualize my future as an architect.”
Growing up, Opoku often drew floor plans and designed spaces within imaginary buildings. By the time she was in high school, she decided to take her interest in architecture more seriously after learning about architect, urban planner, and Brazilian politician Jamie Lerner. Inspired by the way Lerner implemented sustainable design elements in Brazil, Opoku knew she wanted to follow in his footsteps and create change in her home country.
As she approaches her graduation at New York Tech—she is working on narrowing down her thesis topic related to Ghanaian architecture—the School of Architecture and Design student looks toward her future with a simple goal: to be an architect who inspires people.
“I hope to contribute significantly to infrastructure improvement in Ghana. I’ve been inspired to improve the system and hope whatever I’m able to achieve will inspire others to do more and do it even better,” she says. “I wish for every project I’m a part of to leave a positive, lasting effect on the people who use the space.”