Seeing beautiful buildings co-exist against a backdrop of mountains, valleys, and blue waters in his homeland of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Architectural Graduate Alvin Laguerre knew he wanted to contribute to beauty and speak loudly through design. This solidified his career decision, and he’s drawn his own roadmap to success. Learn more about Alvin and his bright future below.
Tell us about your background.
My family and I moved to the United States in 2009 before the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After a year in Florida, we moved to Indiana. When I arrived in the United States, I didn’t know any English, but taught myself by watching television and listening to hip-hop and pop music. The artists were my teachers and I fell in love with music. I went to Belzer Middle School and Fall Creek Valley Middle School before graduating from Lawrence North High School in 2016.
While I was at Lawrence North, I participated in the Tri-Hi-Y Mr. Lawrence North competition that benefitted the Julian Center. It was my first time performing, and I had intended to do something funny. Then I got the call nobody ever wants to receive—a classmate of mine took his life. I saw what happened as a chance to use my voice to talk about mental health that affects so many young people. To honor my classmate’s memory, I changed my act. It was beautiful and when I was crowned Mr. Lawrence North 2016, I knew others were touched, too. I attended Ball State University to study architecture and graduated in 2021. Looking back on everything and seeing where I am today, it’s because of hard work, persistence, and perseverance.
Has music continued to be part of your life?
Absolutely. I still write and produce music, and I collaborate with musician, mentor, and friend, Rome Herbert who I met at Ball State. I go by the name Alvin the Architect, and through my music, I build people up against their fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. When I immigrated to the United States, I faced a lot of these feelings, so it’s only natural my music would reflect this and show that we can overcome through faith, hope, and love. We have done shows for the Boys and Girls Club, at churches, and other venues in Muncie, Indiana.
With a busy architectural career, how have you kept up with your musical pursuits?
It’s been a balancing act. But I am so grateful for the support I get from my coworkers who inspire me every day, family, friends, and my fiancée, Brittany. Through her own work empowering women, Brittany makes me stronger, both personally and professionally.
What have you enjoyed most about your time at Schmidt Associates?
I’ve enjoyed seeing how the firm is so efficient. Watching how Greg Hempstead refines processes to make life better for our Owners has been a learning experience. Working with Anna Marie Burrell on K-12 projects has also been remarkable. She’s a legend, and very intentional with information-sharing. She goes to great lengths to understand spaces and people.
How does your music and message as Alvin the Architect help you in designing inspirational environments in schools?
The music I create is colorful. With music, I always start by asking myself why I’m making it and what color do I want to paint? This approach lets me select moods that will inspire. I also value texture because it helps bring out themes and ambient sounds that help build the world where songs live. For instance, I have a song called ‘Get Up.’ The message is that no matter how bad things get, how people may fail us, or even how we fail ourselves, our experiences can always be used for good. Throughout the song, texture is added with chants, screams, and distorted layers to spread encouragement.
Just like in music, when designing, my attention always goes to the relationship between the facility, the user, and how the space inspires occupants, through the color, form, or texture. In music, I can add different sound effects to bring out certain moods. With architecture, I can use the change of material to bring out different moods, which can promote physical and mental well-being in schools.
What are your long-term goals?
Eventually, I want to return to Haiti and build homes that will help better the environmental health of overcrowded and underserved neighborhoods. I was brought out of Haiti for a reason, and I was put on this earth to serve. What I love about Schmidt Associates is that everyone has a servant’s heart, and they’re supporting me in the work I’m doing every day and with my personal goals. This is a gift, and one I am grateful to have received.
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