DIRECTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARCHITECTS

Bradford C. Grant
Professor of Architecture
California State Polytechnic University
San Luis Obispo, California
Dennis Alan Mann
Professor of Architecture
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio

Introduction

This directory identifies and highlights licensed African American architects who practice in both the private and public sectors, who teach in higher education, and who work in associated disciplines.

We began the original (first edition) Directory of African American Architects (Nov. 1991) to account for and identify all of the African Americans who were professionally licensed as architects. We suspected at that time that even the estimated numbers that we came across in various publications were greatly exaggerated. This first directory established a baseline with which we could then begin to plot the demographic changes among African American architects. We also used the data collected from the first edition to facilitate our research profiling the roles that African American architects play in education and in practice, including those who are owners of firms; those who are partners in firms; those who are employees in both the public and private sectors; and those who are educators. This second edition of the directory continues our efforts to provide an up-to-date and accurate listing of licensed African American architects.

By now both Whitney M. Young's admonition to architects attending the American Institute of Architect's (AIA) National Convention in Portland, Oregon in 1968, and the Kerner Commission's June of 1968 report on urban unrest have become important historical documents. Both of these documents were cited by Robert Traynham Coles, a noted practicing architect and a past Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carnegie-Mellon University in a Progressive Architecture editorial entitled "An Endangered Species."1 In an editorial reflection on his observations over a twenty-one year period between 1968 and 1989, Coles bemoaned the dismal growth in the number of African American architects. In his editorial Coles quoted Young, who said that architects must share in the responsibility for creating ".... the white noose around the central city," where much of the urban unrest of the late 1960's occurred. He also cited the Kerner Report, which concluded that the nation was rapidly developing into two societies, one black and one white, separate and unequal. These factors as well as the dismantling of federally supported housing programs, the reduction of Federal support for the maintenance and development of physical infrastructures, and the current attack on affirmative action policies inhibit the success of African American architectural practices.

Major reductions in grants, scholarships, and guaranteed loans for underrepresented students led Coles to conclude that the African American architect was an "endangered species." Coles noted that "the number of black architects had grown from about 1000 to about 2000, remaining at about two percent of the total (of all architects),"2 notwithstanding the fact that African Americans represent more than twelve percent of the population. Coles' data was taken from statistics collected by the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor fails to specify whether or not someone who is employed in the field of architecture is licensed to practice architecture. Statistics cited from the Department of Labor only noted those who worked in the field - licensed architects, interns, technicians, and even designer/builders. Coles found it difficult to substantiate that there were 2000 architects in current practice based on his own observations and experiences with African American architects between 1969 and 1989.

The architectural press continues to report weak African American representation in the profession.3 This is true not only for practice, but also for architectural education. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) reports that for the 1993-94 academic year, 6.3 percent of students in accredited B. Arch and M. Arch programs were African American. In that same year, only 3.6 percent of the graduates from both of those programs were African American. We have no statistics to tell us how many graduates remain in the profession as interns or continue on to licensure.

African American women enjoy even less representation in practice; we list only eighty four women in the current directory. Recent studies of the role of gender and race in the architectural profession and in architectural education suggest that weak demographic presence has a negative effect on African American architects and other underrepresented architects in the field.4

Conventional architectural history reflects this bias. Historians have not yet incorporated African American contributions to American architecture into their work or into architecture curricula. Most students of architecture have never heard of Benjamin Banneker, who assisted Pierre Charles L'Enfant in the planning of Washington D.C.; or Julian Abele, who designed the Widener Library at Harvard University; or Paul Revere Williams, the architect of numerous Hollywood homes of movie stars.

The African American architectural tradition continues today. The African American architect is actively involved in all levels of professional practice, from the design of high style interiors to the design of large international airports. African American architects are also Senior Partners in majority owned firms, tenured professors in prestigious architectural schools, and hold important administrative posts in governmental agencies. The accomplishments of African American architects in the second half of the 20th Century are significant, and too extensive for the scope of this directory. Moreover, imagine the extent of their contributions if African American architects were fully represented in the profession.

How We Prepared the First Directory

We set out to prepare the first directory of African American Architects in late 1989. Our goal was to substantiate with statistics what we and others had concluded on the basis of anecdote: that African American architects considered themselves underrepresented in a largely "white gentleman's profession." Some estimates of the number of African American architects ranged as high as 2,000; as noted above, the third quarter report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1990 estimated that 2000 of this country's 130,000 architects were African American. No one had surveyed African American architects to verify these numbers.

In October 1990 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) statistics reported that 344 AIA members out of 43,493 regular (licensed) members or 0.7 percent of the AIA membership were African American. In contrast 1.5 percent were Hispanic Americans; 3.1 percent were Asian Americans; and 6.5 percent were women. Minorities represented approximately 12 percent of all regular AIA members. The AIA and NAAB estimated that 85,000 architects practice in the United States. The 867 African American architects we documented in our first directory represent about one percent of this professional population.

Today the AIA and the NCARB estimate that the number of licensed architects has grown to nearly 100,000. Since each state licenses architects within their own jurisdiction and since many architects hold licenses in more than one state, it is difficult to provide an exact number of architects currently licensed to practice. This second edition of our directory lists 1158 African American architects, an increase of 291, or 33 percent more than the 1991 edition. Although this increase is due in part to architects overlooked in our first directory, the majority of new entries represent African American architects who have been licensed since then.

This increase is also noted in recent AIA membership statistics. The May 1995 AIA statistics show 43,219 regular members, of whom 429 or one percent are African American. This data suggests that, while AIA membership remained stable from 1991 to 1995, African American membership increased nearly 25 percent. In fact, 91 of the 166 African American AIA members who were not AIA members in 1991 were also not listed in our first directory. This figure suggests a 25 percent increase in newly licensed African American AIA members. AIA statistics continue to show a gradual increase in minority membership (including women) since 1991, up from 12 percent in 1991 to 16 percent in 1995 including the 25 percent increase in African American membership.

All indications point to a gradual but steady increase in licensed African American architects from 1991 to 1995. The authors, with the support of the Center for the Study of Practice at the University of Cincinnati, will continue to monitor African American architects into the next century.

How We Compiled the Revised Directory

Since the publication of the first Directory of African American Architects in 1991, we have continued to update our original data. We maintain a broad network of contacts with African American architects nationwide and with the organizations that represent them. The revised directory includes newly licensed architects and architects not included in the first directory; it has removed architects who have passed away since the first directory was issued; it has eliminated errors discovered in the first directory; it includes new and changed addresses and additional information. In addition, in the spring of 1995 we conducted a new survey which addressed the professional status of the African American architect. The results of this survey, entitled "The Professional Status of the African American Architect," will be reported elsewhere and will be published by the Center for the Study of Practice.

In the revised directory, we have confirmed that all architects listed are licensed in one or more states. We confirmed licensure through state registration rosters. We obtained addresses through direct contact with the architect; by survey or by consulting state registration rosters.

The AIA Minority Resources Committee supplied additional names. We received and reviewed membership rosters from the Robert Taylor Society of Black Architects in Boston; the Directory of African American Design firms, compiled annually by the San Francisco Redevelopment Authority; Colorado Blacks in Architecture; the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA); Bay Area Black Architect (BABA); African American Architects of Detroit; National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) chapter lists (Philadelphia, North Carolina and Los Angeles) as well as NOMA's national roster; lists of architecture alumni from a number of schools; and numerous private lists from architects and architectural educators around the country. These resources permitted us to cross check our data.

The present roster represents the most current addresses, places of employment, and telephone numbers that we could find. In some cases, we list a place of residence, in others a place of employment. Our roster lists only one state of registration, usually the state in which the architect resides and practices.

The second edition of this directory does not represent 100 percent of the African Americans licensed to practice architecture in the USA and its territories, although it lists a significant majority. Any roster such as this is in a constant state of change. People change careers, relocate, retire, or pass away; others become newly licensed. In respect of such changes we have set out to publish a roster every three years, supplemented by occasional addenda, which we will send to our subscribers.

To those African American architects who have fallen outside of our broad network and have not been listed in this directory, we apologize. Let us hear from you. We will include you in the third edition.

Criteria

Although each state and territorial jurisdiction regulates its own standards and requirements for professional registration, each defines the architect similarly. For instance, North Carolina law defines an architect as "a person who is duly licensed to practice architecture" and a license as "a certificate of registration issued by the (North Carolina) Board (of Architecture) recognizing the individual named in the certificate as meeting the requirements for registration under this Chapter." States and territories issue licenses to applicants who have met all the requirements - by education, internship and/or by examination - to practice architecture. The title "Architect" is therefore a title regulated by statute.

States also require architects to renew their licenses on a regular basis. Each state maintains a roster of architects licensed to practice in its jurisdiction. From time to time architects who have been licensed fail to pay their annual dues, in which case their registration lapses. Most jurisdictions permit architects to renew by paying past annual dues.

This directory contains only licensed architects.

For the purposes of the directory "African American" means African American by descent. We also include architects who have emigrated to America from other countries such as Jamaica, Haiti, and Nigeria and who are licensed in one of the fifty states. We have included African American architects who reside in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands; we have included architects who reside on other Caribbean islands so long as they hold licenses from one of the fifty states.

Use of This Directory

We hope that this directory will enjoy many uses. Our aim is to help broaden networks for those listed and open up opportunities for joint professional ventures. We hope that this directory might create additional opportunities for architects to join together to advise young men and women who express interest in the profession, whether they are contemplating a career in architecture or preparing for their registration examination. We hope that this directory will allow people to share a wide range of professional experiences. Not least, we hope this directory will reunite people who have lost contact with one another.

Our aim is captured in a Progressive Architecture editorial: "One of the critical problems discussed (at the 1990 NOMA Conference in Detroit) .... was visibility. If black students and their families hardly ever hear of a black architect, the most promising young people are unlikely to look to architecture as a career; if the designs and writings of black faculty members are rarely published, their chances for advancement or influence are reduced; if clients rarely see or hear of a black architect, black architects are not going to have the credibility they need."5 We hope that this directory will help to alleviate these problems. In the end, we hope that it will increase the number of African Americans who choose architecture as a career.

This roster will be available from the Center for the Study of the Practice. We will not use it for any commercial purposes. We will use it as a data base for ongoing research, designed to benefit members of the African American architectural community as well as the architectural community as a whole. This research is part of the charge of the Center to "foster intellectual commerce between educators and practitioners".

Acknowledgements

The contributors to this roster were extensive. We are grateful to those who sent us complete lists of the local African American organizations mentioned above and to others who sent us names of classmates and colleagues.

Noteworthy for their contributions are Jean Barber, Director of the Design/Practice Group at the AIA headquarters in Washington, DC; Vice President Harry J. Robinson, III of Howard University; Associate Dean Kathryn Prigmore of Howard University. We especially wish to thank William Adams, Leon Bridges, Wendell Campbell and Susan Campbell, John S. Chase, Robert T. Coles, Robert Easter, Professor Wesley Henderson, Willie Jordan, M. David Lee, Bruce Looney, Cheryl McAfee Mitchell, Robert P. Madison, Michael Rogers, Robert Saxon, William Stanley, and Jack Travis. Many more people responded to our queries for additional names. We thank them all for their time and interest in this project.

In addition we are indebted to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for a grant which helped to support the publication of this directory; to the Center for the Study of Practice - Daniel Friedman, Anton Harfmann, and Miranda Mote, for their editorial advice; to Professor Matthew Gaynor for the graphic design of this publication; and to each of our institutions for their continuing support of this important project.


1. Progressive Architecture (7/89) p. 7; (This article was also revised and published in the Journal of Architectural Education; Fall 1989 43/1; p. 60-62).
2. Op. cit. p. 7
3. cf "Why Architecture Still Fails to Attract Minorities", Mubarak S. Dahir, Architectural Record July 1995; p. 32-33).
4. Cf "Shattering the Glass Ceiling", K. Anthony, et. al., University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana; "Reconceptualizing Architectural Education for a More Diverse Future", L. Groat and S. Arentzen, Journal of Architectural Education, #49 (3), Feb. 1996; and "A White Gentleman's Profession?" John Morris Dixon, Progressive Architecture Nov. 1994, p. 55-61).
5. Progressive Architecture, Editorial, Dec. 1990; p. 7