02/28/22 Alumni Spotlight: Joshua A. Foster, M.Arch ’19 and Founder & CEO of JAF Creative Solutions
A native of the Philadelphia area, a seasoned New Yorker, and now a settled Angeleno, Joshua A. Foster, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, has a strong passion for creating community-empowerment driven solutions.
A vocal advocate for increasing diversity within the architectural design profession, Joshua is currently serving as the NOMA National Historian after completing four years of service as the SoCal NOMA Executive Board Historian and Partnership Liaison.
Can you tell us about your background?
I’m a native of the Philadelphia area and a graduate of both Columbia University, where I was a student-athlete on the football team, and USC School of Architecture.
Professionally, the early years of my career were focused on the design and construction of affordable and market-rate housing projects in Los Angeles. This passion then transformed into a powerful mission to impact communities of color and inspired me to launch JAF Creative Solutions— a community impact focused strategic partnership and design consultancy firm – in 2021.
My company is a community-impact focused strategic partnership and design consultancy firm. Outside of my consulting work, I’m an Adjunct Architecture Professor at East Los Angeles College, a high school football coach in Long Beach, and the recently appointed NOMA National Historian.
What drew you to the work you are doing now?
As I worked directly on development projects from the architectural side of the table, I also spent a considerable amount of time alongside real estate development teams. Consistent conversations with these teams led to a clear discovery of the true gap in communication between those on the decision making side of the table and the communities that were being built in.
Through this realization, I felt that I brought a set of skills that could fill this gap as an advocate for the community that understood the nuances of project feasibility and the reality of a need to see a return on investment on the developer side.
By creating a true line of communication between the two sides, I saw that I could help build up communities to the height of their potential by leveraging the resources of the projects arising in and around these communities all while celebrating the unique and beautiful culture already within.
As an architectural designer I believe that the harmony of human interactions with architecture creates a music that can never be replicated but only enhanced with thoughtful and intentional community-driven designs.
Who or what inspires you?
My inspiration comes from all of those around me that I interact with on a daily basis. A quote that I amended from one that a friend of mine once shared with me captures this feeling. This quote reads:
“The diameter of your knowledge is based on the circumference of your [community].”
Every single person— from my wife and son, to my broader family, to the students that I teach, to the team that I coach, to my colleagues, to my NOMA family, to my Columbia and USC alumni, to my former teammates, to my church family, to the individuals that are currently houseless that I speak to in my neighborhood— plays a daily role in my growth as a professional and constantly inspires me to be the best human being that I can be.
Any advice to prospective or current students?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my academic and professional career is that some of the most life-changing moments and biggest accomplishments happen when and to those who are willing to be flexible and adapt to the detours and obstacles of life.
Being an alumna of the USC School of Architecture holds a lot of weight and expectation of success due to the strong reputation that SoA alumni have forged. While carrying on that torch is important, I wholeheartedly believe that success and impact does not follow a strict path, but is the unscripted culmination of how we each deal with the highs and lows of our unique daily journeys. So forge a path that is right for you and take each day head on with an open and fluid mindset.