The Directory of African American Architects

Phil Freelon, FAIA

posted Jul 10, 2019 by mannda

From the ARTNEWS Media: Philip Freelon, the architect who led the design team of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, has died at age 66, after a years-long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Freelon grew up watching his grandfather, a Harlem-Renaissance era-artist, paint with oils in his studio. He grew up to study architecture at North Carolina State University, and eventually earned his masters of architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a recipient of the Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and in 1990, he founded his architectural firm the Freelon Group, which was composed of sixty members and located in North Carolina. The group was tasked with designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2009, alongside Freelon’s partners J. Max Bond, Jr., and David Adjaye. The museum opened in September of 2016. Other accomplishments from the group include the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and Emancipation Park in Houston.

Freelon’s civic-minded designs were notably humanitarian and built with consideration for moral value. “Bringing design excellence to the spaces people use every day is my passion, particularly for public buildings,” he said. “Architecture is inspirational when it expresses the unique aspirations and ideals of the community it serves. It can embody a collective passion, express civic pride, and symbolize common values.”

In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Freelon to the US Commission of Fine Arts, and he has served as a visiting lecturer at MIT’s architecture school as professor of the practice. He is survived by his wife, jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, and their three children.

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The Directory of African American Architects is maintained as a public service to promote an awareness of who African American architects are and where they are located. The sole qualification for listing is licensure in one of the fifty US jurisdictions and their territories.

If you are not presently listed please complete the PLEASE ADD ME form and submit.

The Directory is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Practice at the University of Cincinnati.

If you are listed and would like to see a link to your firm's web site please contact Dennis Alan Mann at

Privacy Policy

No information in our database is made public except what appears on the web site.

Name, City, State, Home State of License

If the person is a firm owner or partner and if the firm has a web site then a live link is provided to that web site. All other information is stored in our database and used only for research purposes with no names connected to information (see Publications for examples of our research).

Database Summary

There are currently 2286 licensed African American architects in our database.
  • 462
  • 1824

The last 10 architects added to the database:

Jul 16, 2019 Helder Almeida DC
Jul 10, 2019 Souleymane Bakary Dembele NJ
Jul 3, 2019 Derrick James Gaderson TX
Jun 27, 2019 Courtney Williams Mitchell IL
Jun 19, 2019 Clarence E. Browne GA
Jun 18, 2019 Andrew Neil Dacosta GA
Jun 18, 2019 Chelsea Lindsey Granado GA
Jun 18, 2019 Vincent Theodore Brownbill GA
May 31, 2019 Malika Ain Kirkling WA
May 29, 2019 Tabitha Abena Darko MO

The last 5 faculty added to the database:

Mar 11, 2019 Jennifer Newsom MN
Jan 7, 2019 John . Onyango, Ph. D IN
Jan 7, 2019 Simon Adamtey, MTM, Ph D OH
Sep 17, 2018 Derek Ham, PhD NC
Jul 15, 2018 Joel Hall IL


Jul 9, 2019 I just heard that Phil Freelon passed today. Brad and I are so sorry. Phil was an uber architect, a great designer, a kind gentleman, and someone that Brad and I spent time with him at numerous NOMA meetings. We will place a longer tribute on our blog.
Jun 22, 2019 We recently learned that Mr. Claude A. Ford, 90 years old, a Howard grad (1957), and a licensed architect passed in May 2018. Our condolences to his family.
Jun 2, 2019 “Designing Victory,” a memoir by Robert P. Madison with Carlo Wolff, was released April 9 by Act 3, a media and publishing organization in Cleveland. (Photo Courtesy of Act 3 LLC)
May 25, 2019 We are sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Charles L. Perinchief, Jr. formerly of Williams-Russell and Johnson, Architects in Atlanta , GA. Our condolences to his family.
May 16, 2019 Please be advised that African-American Architect André P. Copeland passed away on 11 December 2018. He was 59. He had retired on disability from The Office of the Architect of the Capitol in Washington DC in June 2014, following a ruptured brain aneurysm. He received his BArch and MBA from Howard University in 1982 and 1987, respectively.
Mar 14, 2019 We recently received information that Vianne Theresa McKinney passed in Feb. 2014. We are always saddened to hear when someone who was still so young dies. Vianne was a graduate of Tulane University and worked in San Antonio, TX.
Mar 12, 2019 According to NCARB "Women represent 20 percent of certificate holders—a credential for licensed architects which is a 1 percent increase from last year." We just reached 20 % licensed Arfrican American women listed in the Directory!
Mar 4, 2019 We have removed all of the websites which were no longer active. If you have a new website please let me know @ You must be an owner, partner or associate to have your site listed.
Feb 9, 2019 CONGRATULATIONS to James Garrett, Jr. and Oswald Ortega for receiving the AIA's Young Architects Award.
Dec 19, 2018 FOR STUDENTS! SmithGroup values diversity and inclusion; therefore in 2018 we introduced the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program. Our hope is to provide underrepresented students the opportunity to attain their goals, while advancing the professions of architecture, landscape architecture and engineering. While our communities often represent a broad ethnic and racial diversity, for far too many years, people of color have been underrepresented in the design fields. We believe that diverse perspectives enrich the design process, which will allow us to create inspiring places that support and reflect all of our communities. This scholarship includes the opportunity for a paid internship in one of our 13 offices. Students will work side-by-side with practicing landscape architects, architects, engineers, planners and more. Assignments will vary and include project research, site visits, computer production, design reviews, and assisting on marketing efforts. Commitment to this summer internship is required to receive the scholarship. Applicants must be current undergraduate or graduate students in an accredited architecture, landscape architecture, interiors, engineering program including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, civil, structural and fire protection. Candidates must be from an underrepresented population, and undergraduates must have at least junior standing. Award: $6,000 (five scholarships awarded annually) Deadline: Applications will be accepted through January 18, 2019 for the 2019-2020 academic year. To submit your application visit us at:
May 10, 2017 The first licensed women architects were Louise Harris Brown(IL), Beverly L. Green (IL), NormanSklarek (NY), Henrietta V. Harney (IL), Roberta Washington (NY), Sharon E. Sutton (NY), Marilynn Stanley (NY), Donna DeJongh (Vir. Isl.) and Marcia Roberts (OH).
Jan 21, 2007 We are proud to announce that THE DIRECTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARCHITECTS has received a 2007 AIA Award for Collaborative Achievement. The Directory of African American Architects, established in 1991 by two faculty, Professor Bradford Grant, chair of Architecture at Hampton University, and Dennis Mann, Professor of Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, have garnered an Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement for its success in advancing the visibility, representation, and contributions of African-American architects, in the words of its founding collaborators. The directory lists more than 1,500 African-American architects who practice in the private and public sectors, teach in higher education, or work outside the profession and still maintain licensure. The listing, with its series of highlight studies, continues to expand and now includes a Web site [] and a comparable listing of landscape architects. Noting the directorys immediate usefulness, J. Max Bond Jr., FAIA, writes in support of the nomination: The Directorys existence helped give a presence to African-American architects. It helped people contact each other and thus helped to reinforce the creation of a community of Architects.
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