How many Black Architects do you know?
Yes, I’m asking you. How many Black Architects do you know? It’s not a common question and many would have the same answer – none. In a profession where Blacks make up an alarming 2 percent (many reports state less than 2 percent), it’s difficult to find any. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to find a few in my own backyard.
Let me start from the beginning though.
I never thought my paper during my graduate studies would turn my life around and my appreciation to skyrocket (future post about this coming soon). The concept of the Black Architect is an exquisite one. To understand the existence of individuals in a field that initially wasn’t meant for them…it’s perplexing, demanding, and amazing.
I wanted to write my paper on a Black Architect named Julian Abele and focus on his blueprints.
My paper took me through great lengths to ultimately discover not much. I found excerpts saying he “worked and designed” numerous buildings at Duke University , but I couldn’t find any of his blueprints online. Initially, I was going to wait for Duke to send me the prints, but due to time constraints, I decided to opt out (I discovered later that he didn’t sign and seal his drawings so I wouldn’t have seen his name on the blueprints either way).
I had conversations with my Professor and she suggested a recent retiree from my university – Mr. Joseph Middlebrooks. Based on my research and testimony from his colleagues, he was considered the first Black registered architect in the state of Florida. As time passed, little did I know, America’s Hidden Gem was being created.
On my quest to learn more about him, my passion to uncover more Black Architects grew. I found write-ups on many Pioneers such as Norma Sklarek, Paul Revere Williams, and Robert R. Taylor, to name a few. What was upsetting to me was to not see any Black Architects and their stories in today’s age!
Candidly, because that was a lot to read😅, I started this to uncover the stories and lives of Black Architects. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the motivation to continue if you haven’t seen someone do it before you. There are roughly 2,000+ licensed, Black Architects in America. There are also many on the journey to becoming licensed. With this blog/platform, I want this to be that space where kids in elementary school to graduate school and even people that aren’t in school can come find that motivation and inspiration in people that look just like them.
I’m new to this so hopefully I’ll get better with time. Thanks for reading! 💜