Folasayo Salami considers himself a "troubleshooter and a big thinker" who believes there to always be a solution to every problem. He recently graduated as a master of Regional & City Planning with a specialty in community and economic development from The University of Oklahoma. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture from Northern-Cyprus. Fola has a zeal for affordable housing and sustainable economic development through architecture. During his graduate degree, he had the privilege of working with the Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) in a Graduate and Teaching Assistant role. Also, he conducted a research thesis on Compressed earth block technology and self-help housing as a potential solution for affordable housing in sub-Saharan Africa. Presently, he works as an urban design planning intern for the City of Edmond, Oklahoma.
Q: Why did you select your specialty?
A: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (B.A. Arch), and my joining the planning program was in large part to criticize the modern ways of building, alongside discovering answers to other facets of urban planning beyond design, hence my reason for deciding to specialize in community and economic development.
Q: Does your current job responsibilities relate to your specialty?
A: One of the current projects the City is working on involves revitalizing a corridor in the core of its historic downtown. The challenge put before the City is come about a strategy to spur economic development in the opportunity zone areas, as well as preserve the culture and history of the city. As an urban design intern for the planning department, my task is to review the City’s design guidelines and come up with possible design solutions to advance these goals.
Q: Is there a class or professor that has made a great impact on you? How so?
A: Public Budgeting & Finance; Community Development & Revitalization; Subdivision and Planned Unit Development (PUD) planning; and Sociology of Housing. Just to name a few among the many invaluable classes I had the chance of taking during my time as a graduate student at OU. I am most appreciative of the professors who guided me through my thesis research.
Q: What's the favorite project you’ve worked on, in class or in practice?
A: Every project I work on is my favorite because it offers me the opportunity to learn something new. Nevertheless, I must say my Subdivision and Planned Unit Development (PUD) planning course project was one of my favorites. We were tasked with the challenge of developing a proposal for Ed Noble Parkway in Norman, which would fit into the context of the environment and at the same time explore the need for sustainable development in Oklahoma. I ended up proposing a botanical garden design which I named “Sonic Theme Park".
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I intend to advocate the goals, and objectives set by the United Nations in the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) set towards alleviating poverty in developing countries, alongside other global pressing issues.
Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: It has taught me to be orderly, more so, critical in addressing decisions that affect other humans, animals and the natural environment.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: A Mathematics professor.
Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: Four and my favorite is home- Lagos, Nigeria.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: Paris, which would be for my immense interest in fashion and history. Give me another chance and I would pick Rome!
Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Sapiens. "Humans are bound by trade, therein, every solution to our problems lie"
Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: Blue! Although some would say water is colorless, I say it is blue. In the SONIC project, a part of the park features a boardwalk behind mixed-used structures where the water leads you right into the wondrous botanical garden and off you go onto the running trail.