by Roberta Washington
Opened in conjunction with Black History Month, SAY IT LOUD: Distinguished Black Designers of NYCOBA | NOMA puts the spotlight on architects and allied professionals of color, as well as their rarely recognized impacts on the architecture and design fields and the community at large. Among the 20 architects, designers and students honored with project photography, quotes, and video interviews, Roberta Washington, FAIA, NOMA, Principal, Roberta Washington Architects, has contributed a timeline of the history of black architects in New York, which we’ve reproduced below.
On view through April 1, 2017, the exhibition itself has been organized in collaboration with the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NYCOBA | NOMA); curated by Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, 2015-2016 President of NYCOBA | NOMA; designed by Manuel Miranda Practice; and supported by FXFOWLE.
The American Institute of Architects is founded by 13 white male architects in New York City.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded. It is the first university in the United States to offer courses in architecture starting in 1868.
Civil War results in official end to slavery in the United States.
A free man, Calvin Brent, starts an architecture practice in Washington, DC. It is the first successful architecture practice by a black man in the United States.
Wallace Rayfield attends Pratt Institute and Columbia University. During his career, he designed over 350 buildings in 20 states.
John Lankford, Washington, DC’s first licensed black architect, gives a major talk about black architects in New York City.
The New York Times publishes an article announcing the selection of E.R. Williams, ‘a colored architect,’ as the architect of a new department store for black New Yorkers.
Vertner W. Tandy opens an architectural firm in New York City with another black architect, George Washington Foster, Jr.
Tandy and Foster complete first major architectural project in New York, the St. Phillip’s Church in Harlem.
Architectural licensing comes to New York State. George Washington Foster, Jr. and Vertner W. Tandy become first licensed black architects in 1916 and 1917, respectively.
E.R. Williams selected to design an African Museum at the Washington, DC Mall. It is the first design for such a museum and is never built.
Tandy protégée John Louis Wilson selected by the newly-formed New York City Housing Authority to be one of seven architects on the design team for the Harlem River Houses Project, one of the first NYC housing projects funded by the Federal government.
Buffalo Architect John E. Brent, the son of Washington, DC-based architect Calvin Brent, becomes the first black AIA member in New York State.
Beverly Greene, the nation’s first black female architect (1942), moves to New York City and works for Edward Durrell Stone and Marcel Breuer.
John L. Wilson starts Council for the Advancement of the Negro in Architecture (CANA). He later rolls into AIA New York, creating the Equal Opportunity Committee.
Norma M. Sklarek becomes the first black woman licensed as an architect in New York State. She is employed at SOM, among other firms.
Black architects and offices proliferate. Exhibition of work by black architects opens in Harlem.
A second exhibition of black architects is sponsored by the Architectural League of New York and AIA New York. It is attended by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Harlem childhood friends Percy Ifill and Conrad Johnson run a 30-person architectural firm, Ifill Johnson Hanchard, from West 45th Street.
Robert Traynham Coles runs a successful architecture practice from Buffalo, NY. He designs buildings in Buffalo, New York City, and Washington, DC. Became the first black Chancellor of the College of Fellows in 1994.
Advocacy planning spreads in New York. The Architect’s Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH) and Real Great Society are two groups supported by Max Bond, Arthur Symes, Harry Quinta and other black and Hispanic architects.
In 1969 J. Max Bond and Don Ryder founded an architectural practice that lasted 21 years. In 1990 Bond Ryder Associates merged with David Brody & Associates to become Davis Brody Bond.
After attending an AIA Convention in Detroit, 12 African American architects met to discuss the idea for a national organization to fight for the advancement of minorities in the profession. The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) was formed.
To fight racial discrimination in obtaining municipal projects, fifteen representatives of black architecture firms in New York formed the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA). In 1995, NYCOBA became the New York Chapter of NOMA.
Jack Travis establishes his practice in 1985 and expresses his interest in the intersection of black culture and design culture. In 1991, Travis’ book African American Architects in Current Practice was published.
Marshall Purnell becomes the first black President of the American Institute of Architects.
Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond assembles the winning team for the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the DC Mall. The team includes David Adjaye and Phil Freelon. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens.