August 29, 2013 UT Architecture Student Wins Gensler Diversity Internship, Scholarship

Tabitha Darko, a first-generation immigrant from Ghana and a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, architecture student, hopes to unite her cultural heritage with her passion for design to create meaningful architecture.

As a winner of the Gensler Diversity Internship and Scholarship, she is now one step closer to her dream. Darko received one of three top academic scholarships from Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm. The scholarship also provided a paid summer internship in Gensler’s regional office in San Francisco.

Darko, who moved to the U.S. from Accra, Ghana, when she was five, competed against architecture and design students from across the country. The scholarship will pay for this academic year, her senior year, in the UT architecture program.

She said her cultural background will help her better relate to the design notion that architects create based on someone’s story.

“Each and every story is unlike the other and an architect must create eclectic solutions to design problems from different scopes,” Darko said. “With this in mind, I approach every project by looking for the narrative that will tie the final design to the people that will use it or live in it.”

As a finalist, Darko submitted a video about her work and passion for design. View her entry here:

Darko’s submission was a design proposal for the Knoxville Community Rowing Boathouse, a plan that considered the actions, experiences and perspectives of both the spectators and rowers within a single space.

“Because of the built-in theme of ‘place’ in design, architecture will always have the ability to speak subtly about how context and culture make our experiential world,” Darko said. “What continues to inspire and interest me is the way in which location and culture can profoundly influence the design of a project.”

After graduation, Darko hopes to pursue a master’s degree in architecture and eventually would like to teach or work at a firm focusing on urban renewal projects and those designed and built abroad.

Gensler has 42 locations and more than 3,000 professionals on five continents. The firm specializes in architecture, interior design, brand design, product design, planning and urban design and consulting and has more than 2,000 active clients representing virtually every industry.

C O N T A C T:

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,