By amplifying the discussion of black women, it is perceived that finding them in the academic and professional universes is still a not widely common situation, due to a deeply unequal historical process. In the recognition of the spaces conquered by the professional partners, going beyond the limits of [social and economic] inequality and racial discrimination becomes a path to tread, in an attempt to achieve, equally, the spaces that feminism in its universality has managed to occupy. The opportunities that didn’t reach us, generated a disparity in the absence of black professionals, in a course that, unfortunately, is still known as elitist and segregator.
What can be concluded is that it has visibly become a great advance for all of us, to know those that are towards the recognition of our voice in the spaces, academics and professionals [and who traditionally didn’t contemplate them]. As a memory of black consciousness, are represented here some of the 31 black architects that stand out, among various spheres, in architecture and urbanism.
Sharon Egretta Sutton
A Professor Emerita of Architecture at the University of Washington (Seattle) and currently a visiting Professor at the Parsons School of Design, Sutton was the first African-American woman to earn a BA in architecture education in the United States, and the second African-American woman to be named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). She has five degrees in three different subject areas and is trained in music, architecture, philosophy, and psychology. She has taught since 1975, passing through locations such as Pratt Institute, Columbia University, University of Cincinnati and University of Michigan. She continues to receive awards and honors for the recognition of her work and her career for architecture.
Norma Merrick Sklarek
One of the pioneers in architecture, Sklarek became the first African-American woman to be licensed in New York and California (and remained the only African American woman to be licensed in California until 1980.) She was the first woman to be elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Among other multiple pioneering notable achievements in the history of black women in architecture, Sklarek was the first to establish her own architectural firm when she founded Siegel-Sklarek-Diamond in 1985 - a firm founded exclusively by women. Among her well-known projects are the San Bernardino City Hall in California and the American Embassy in Japan (1976).
Amaza Lee Meredith
Born in 1895 in the city of Lynchburg, Virginia, Amaza Lee Meredith is considered an important black artist and architect in history, going far beyond the limitations of her time in matters of gender and race. She completed her undergraduate education in 1930, continuing on to receive a master's degree in 1934 from the Fine Arts Department at the Teacher's College of Columbia University. A year later, she founded the Department of Arts at Virginia State University. Although she had no formal training in architecture, she completed numerous architectural and interiors works, among them her own residence Azurest South. Designed in 1938, the house is considered to be one of the best examples of true International Style architecture in the state of Virginia.
Annette Fisher was the first black woman to be elected a member of the RIBA Council (Royal Institute of British Architects) in 1999. A year later she became the organization's Vice President of Communications and ran a close campaign for the organization's presidency in 2002. Born in Scotland but raised between Scotland and Nigeria, she graduated in 1983 from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Her professional career extends among many offices and projects in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States. Among several awards and achievements, Fisher won the 1997 NatWest Award for Professional of the Year. This was the same year she opened her own business, Fisher Associates (FA-Global-Now), founded in Chelsea, where she continues to develop small-scale projects.
Beverly Loraine Greene
Believed to be the first licensed black female architect in the United States, Beverly Loraine Greene was born in Chicago in 1915. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering in 1936, earning a master in city planning and housing from the same university a year later. in 1945, she also received a master's degree in architecture from Columbia University. During her career, Greene worked with a number of era-defining practices, including those of Isadore Rosefield, Edward Durell Stone and Marcel Breuer. She developed numerous projects for the University of New York, and integrated and assisted in the design of the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Greene passed away in 1957; her memorial service was held in Unity Funeral Chapel in New York City, a project she herself designed.
Holding a Master of Architecture from the University of California - Berkeley (1976) and Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1986-7, Allison Williams has put together a historic career in the profession by any standard. In more than 35 years as an architect, she has worked in offices like SOM (Skidmore Owings & Merril), Perkins+Will (where she was a Director) and AECOM (where she served as Vice President of the Engineering Company) and founded her own office, AGWms_studio. She was present at the "Cities as Innovation Centers" discussion event at the International Women's Forum (Cities as Centers of Innovation at the International Women's Forum, A Nexus of Ideas: The World's Cities held in San Francisco). Her work includes the development of corporate architecture projects involving the principles of sustainability and environmental technology. Williams was also featured in the 2016 exhibition "From A to Zaha: 26 Women Who Changed Architecture" and was involved in the curation of the 2017 "Celebrating Black Architects" installation as part of the London Architecture Festival. Among her best-known works are the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Princess Nora Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest university designed for women.
Georgia Louise Harris Brown
Born in Kansas in 1918, Harris Brown was the second African-American woman to be licensed as an architect in the United States (Beverly Loraine Greene was the first, according to the African-American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary from 1865 to 1945). Harris Brown graduated first from Washburn University in 1938 and later from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where she attended classes of the modernist architect Mies Van der Rohe. Her knowledge in structures led her to work in the Frank J. Kornacker Associates Office, which kept a close relationship with Mies, designing skyscrapers and other modernist buildings; Harris Brown was the only woman on the team of designers and calculators. After she divorced in 1952, the architect moved to Brazil in 1953 where she hoped to find a more racially democratic environment. In Brazil Harris Brown worked on a number of well-known projects such as the renovation of City Bank of São Paulo, the Ford Motors factory in Osasco, and Pfizer's regional headquarters in Guarulhos, in addition to her participation in the Ibirapuera Park project. Harris Brown retired in 1993 after ill-health required her to return to the United States.
Born in 1925, Martha Cassell came from a prominent family of architects and designers. Cassell and her sister were the first black women to graduate from the College of Architecture at Cornell University, receiving their degrees in the late 1940s. Cassell moved to St. Louis in 1949 where she worked for two years, later moving to Washington D.C. to work at the office of Frohman, Robb, & Little. Cassell's expertise in Gothic architecture made her an invaluable asset; she was chosen in 1959 to be the Chief Restoration Architect of the Washington National Cathedral. Her involvement on the project lasted more than 10 years, during which tenure she was one of the only women architects to be involved.
With a solid career in architecture, Shelton is the General Director of Business for the Rockwell Group, a multidisciplinary company with offices in New York, Shanghai and Madrid. Among several experiences in her career, LeeAnn Shelton has worked and actively works in various organizations and government projects, such as the Coney Island District Strategic Development Plan and the Pratt Institute's 14th Street campus. She is Chair of the Arts Associates Committee and in practice was a partner associated with Perkins Eastman and Davis Brody Bond, as well as working as an architect and participant in the Urban Design Commission of New York City.
Graduated since 1980 by the Ghana University of Science and Technology, Linda Mvusi has become widely known as the first South African woman to be awarded the Cannes Film Festival, by the film "A World Apart" in 1988. One of the best known of her works is the Apartheid Museum, in Johannesburg, in which she worked as coordinator of the project, in 2001. The project was awarded for excellence in 2004 by the Institute of Architects of South Africa. She now runs her office Linda Mvusi Architecture & Design in Johannesburg.
Clarissa R. Francois
Graduated by the Renssealaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Clarissa Francois is American and carries in her experience a series of offices she has been through. Winner of the scholarship for great African-American architectural professionals, the Jumaane Omar Steward Award, the architect has LEED AP BD + C credentials (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction), producing projects focused on their energy efficiency and / or sustainability. Currently, Francois works as a designer and coordinator of the Jack L. Gordon Architects Office, developing projects designed for urban design and commercial architecture in medium and large scale.
A fellow of the AIA and FAIA, Roberta was one of the first African-American architectural professionals to have settled in New York, coordinating her own office since 1983, the Roberta Washington Architects, working with institutional, cultural and residential projects in the metropolitan region of New York. The architect holds a bachelor's degree from Howard University, a master's degree from Columbia University and a series of experiences within the Architectural field, developing treatment centers, cultural and educational projects. In addition to her work in New York, Washington, she also works in an Architecture Studio in Maputo, Mozambique. Roberta Washington was a member of the New York City Land Tenure Commission (NYC Landmarks Preservation Comission). Architect with LEED-AP certification since 2003, was president of NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects), among other positions of great prestige organization in the architecture. Among the projects of her own, are the abandoned building reform in Harlem, the Manhattan Cemetery National Monument Visit Center, and the first LEED-certified New Haven City School.
Graduated by City College and Columbia University, the Architect and Urbanist began her winning career earning funding from the American Institute of Architects - New York, which allowed her to travel to Brazil to document the slavery spaces in 1996. She is co-founder of Studio SUMO, an office founded in partnership with the architect Sunil Bald, which has as main premise, the inclusion of physical, cultural and social contexts in the development of his institutional, residential and artistic projects. Her work at SUMO was widely recognized with awards and honors, among them the Young Architects Award, awarded by the Architectural League of New York. She has taught at MIT, Columbia University, City College, University of Michigan and was a Silcott Chair at Howard University, chair that promotes research and publications on issues related to architecture and design. Yolande's research focus includes race, gender, architecture, and space politics.
ARCHITECTURE AND REPRESENTATIVENESS
Mabel O. Wilson
Graduated from the University of Virginia (USA), her contributions are in the fields of modern architecture, design and visual arts. She is well known as a finalist for contests for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (along with Diller Scofidio + Renfro - NMAAHC) and for the African Burial Ground National Monument. She now works in her office, the Studio &, as co-director of the Africa Global Laboratory and since 2007 teaches at Columbia University's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), where she teaches architecture, theory and history. Researcher at the Institution for Research in African American Studies and founder of the Who Builds Yours Architecture? (WBYA). In 2011 she became a member of the United States Artists' Association in Architecture and Design, and has books published as Begin With the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums.
Patricia Anahory, as she is also known, has nationality coming from Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe. She studied in the United States, master’s degree from Princeton University and graduated from Boston Architectural College. Architect and activist from 2009 to 2012 was founding director of the Center for Research in Local Development and Spatial Planning at the University of Cape Verde. She has relevant works, such as her licensing thesis "Reframing the Body: a Women's Prison", discussing and exposing gender issues, and her master's thesis "Homing Landscapes: Mapping Memory[al]" which deals with the issues of slave memory, about the vision of an architect who reshaped concepts of cultural identity, in the constructed and lived space. Among projects we have the Slavery Memorial in Dakar, Senegal (not built and part of her thesis). Today, she runs the XU:collective, with the architect and urbanist Andrea Moassab and the designer Salif Diallo, developing projects such as the space [parenthesis] and the online platform Storia na Lugar, with visual artist César Schofield Cardoso, being a collaborative space for architects, artists and activists contributing by creating web documentaries about the peripheral and marginalized African communities within the city.
She is an architect, academic and a writer. The architect, daughter of a Ghanaian father and Scottish mother, studied at the Bartlett Institute of Architecture and holds a PhD from the University of London. She is Adjunct Professor and Head of the Graduate Institute of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. Seven years after graduating, Lokko drew from only exercise architecture and became a writer. Author of nine books, including Bitter Chocolate, Sundowners and One Secret Summer, Lokko is also a periodical writer on Architectural Review and contributes with lectures about identity, speculative nature of African space and urbanism. Projects like Lokko House are among her works.
Born in Barbados and raised in Nigeria, Yewande Omotoso is an architect and writer. Graduated in architecture from the University of Cape Town, she attended a Master's degree in Creative Writing, becoming author of fictional books, being Bom Boy one of the best known among them, which takes place in post-apartheid South Africa. The book has received awards such as the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the South African Literary Prize for Outreach, among others. The recognition of Omotoso as author rises in the discussions she makes, both in her interviews and in her books, on Pan Africanism and stereotypes about Africa, in addition to discussing issues of identity, culture and feminism in Africa through her publications, a debate that must be constantly reminded of the traditionally patriarchal and misogynist cultures of Africa. She now lives in Johannesburg, where she practices both as an architect and a writer.
Licensed by the American Institute of Architects in 2009 and by the Uganda Society of Architects in 2016, Doreen Adengo is the first Ugandan to earn a Master's degree in Architecture (according to The New Vision), in 2005 from Yale University. After completing her undergraduate and graduate studies at the Catholic University and Yale, respectively, Doreen worked for design firms in London, Washington DC, and New York. She has taught at The New School and Pratt Institute in New York and at Uganda Marty's University, and until recently served as a visiting critic at University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture. One of her best-known works is research in Urban Planning and Affordable Housing Development for the city of Kampala, Uganda.
She graduated in 1998 from the Wesllesley School in Massachusetts, later going on to Harvard and Stanford. Liz works with projects that have a social impact as references to society. Founder and leader of Studio O., Liz Ogbu has had her own office since 2012 and takes part in a project for the design and development of residences innovations, IDEO. Liz Ogbu is a strong name with her research focus and designing a sustainable design with spatial innovations, strengthening communities and influencing companies such as the Nike Foundation and PG&E. As a reference one can see her lecture in the TED: "Why I'm an architect that designs for social impact, not buildings".
Heather P. O'Neal
A member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and trained by the Pratt Institute in New York, Heather P. O'Neal was recognized in 2005 as one of the great Highlights members of the NYCOBA|NOMA, an organization that promotes and connects African-American architecture and design professionals, having O'Neal occupying the position of president of the association. Heather P. O'Neal holds a master's degree from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation by Columbia University (GSAPP), and develops projects such as public schools, multifamily housing, and interiors of corporate buildings. The architect now coordinates her office, the Terrence O'Neal Architect, founded in 2006 with her husband, and teaches as an adjunct professor at the New York Institute of Technology. Among the projects developed by the architect are the Lorraine Montenegro residence for children and women in the Bronx and the Old Boys High School public library.
A descendent of Haitians, Hollant-Denis is a member of the AIA and NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects). Graduated in 1988 from Cornell University, completing her master’s degree at Harvard University in 2000. For most of her career, the architect has run the Aarris Achitects office, developing medium- and large-scale projects for more than 20 years. Among her outstanding projects, Nicole Hollant-Dennis won the project competition for the African Burial Ground National Monument, in Manhattan, and contributes to social architecture by developing housing projects through Haiti: House for Life, a non-profit organization found in Zorange, Haiti. Other projects that she has attended, include one of the JFK International Airport Terminal and commercial offices in New York City (Met Life Offices in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn).
Set up in Nigeria, Anna Abengowe has set her sights on architecture in North America. She holds a master's degree from Princeton University (1997) and is the founder of the architectural and design firm Worldwilde Architecture, managing projects in Morocco, Nigeria and New York, where the company headquarters is found and where the architect lives. Her name is widely known to have been part of the jury of one of the great architectural awards on the African continent last year: the AAA (African Architecture Awards 2017), which awarded projects and professionals within the field of architecture that had the importance and merit as continental representatives for the world architecture. Also founder of Black Collar Productions and consultant on "Build it Back Hurricane Sandy", house restoration project in the cities affected by Hurricane Sandy, Anna Abengowe constantly discusses the need to demystify the vision of Africa that was built and to bring the vision of Pan-African architecture closer to the discussions of world architecture today.
URBANISM AND LANDSCAPE
Born in Ghana, Elsie Owusu lives in London, where she teaches at the London School of Architecture.President of his own company "Elsie Owusu Architects" the architect has specialization in Architectural Preservation and Infrastructure in Urban Mobility. Owusu is one of the members of RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, being awarded as the Woman of the Year in African Business in 2014, among other placements. Among several of her projects, Elsie handled the master plan of Green Park Station in London and public transport systems in the city of Lagos (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana). Founder and first chair of the Society of Black Architects, the architect denounced one of the members of RIBA for institutional racism and sexism in 2015, by pejorative and sexist speeches, besides being denied her ability as a black woman in the position of the vice presidency.
Known as State Secretary and Territorial Planning of Angola since 2017, Angela Mingas is a specialist in Architectural Heritage and Urban Semiotics. She studied at institutions such as the Superior School of Fine Arts in Lisbon and the London Royal Academy, with a degree in Pedagogy, Architecture and Anthropology. In her academic career, Angela Mingas was the founder and coordinator of the Center for Studies and Scientific Research of Arts, Architecture, Urbanism and Design at the Lusíada University of Angola (CEIC-AAUD) since 2003. In 2006, she became curator of the Angolan Architecture Forum. She has taken part in projects such as the Lusíada University of Angola, where she teaches, and the Angola Pavilion at Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain.
Known name within the branch of architecture and design, Tonja Adair is an associate of the NYCOBA|NOMA (an organization that promote and associate African American architecture and design professionals) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The architect has a renowned office of design, architecture and urban design, the Splice Design, in New York. Graduated since 1992 by Wesllesley College, Adair has contributed to projects and ventures in Dubai, Santiago, New Orleans, Florida, among many others.
Graduate and postgraduate from the University of Waterloo, Canada (2006 and 2009, respectively), Camile Mitchell is an architect at KPMB, an important office found in Toronto. Through the BEAT (Building Equality in Architecture, Toronto) organization, she fights for women's equity in architecture as a mentor and setting up contacts with female architects. The architect is also an educational volunteer, teaching architecture to young people and children. Camile Mitchell is one of several architects who contribute to teaching at the Kellogg School of Management University in Chicago.
PhD in African Urbanism from the University of California at Berkeley, Mpho Matsipa has knowledge about spatiality and urban territory, learning about elements of culture, race and representation in South African cities, as was her object of study in the Order of Appearances. In her academic life, she has won prestigious scholarships such as the Fullbright Program and the Carnegie Grant, and has also taught at institutions such as the University of the Witswatersrand, in Johannesburg. She is now an Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, found at Columbia University (GSAPP) and works as a curator at Studio X Johannesburg. Her work can also be recognized by the South African pavilion, at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, in 2008.
Mariam Issoufou Kamara
Born in Niamey, Niger, the architect holds a master's degree in Computer Science (Purdue University, Indiana) and Architecture (University of Washington), with her thesis Mobile Loitering (2013), where she discusses gender issues in public space in Niger, Africa. Kamara is now an Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Brown University in the United States, also keeping her work as founder of the united4design collective and her own office,the Atelier Mosomi, found in Niamey, the city where she was born. Recently, the architect had great prestige when being called to take part in the Biennial Rolex Arts Initiative 2018-2019, a program that selects talented artists from various places and generations to exchange experiences and knowledge in the area with great names of world architecture. Known projects include The Kollo Elementary School (2017) and The Dandaji Library.
President of the Kenya Architecture Association, Emma Miloyo is the first woman to hold the position. Creator of the Design Source office (since 2007), the office seeks to contribute with projects for the construction and sustainability needed for urban design, as smart cities and the development of low-cost projects, setting up projects in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. Born in Nairobi, Miloyo graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2006, and in 2015 she won the Eisenhower Fellowship to pursue her studies and practices in the sustainability of urban areas and smart cities. One of her appearances is in Konza, the techno city (Konza Technology City). Emma Miloyo also adds to women's empowerment within the job market by collaborating with various groups such as WIRE (Women in Real Estate) and the Exbomarian Trust Fund Foundation.
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Raised up in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines island, in the Caribbean, Sheresse had her education in the United States and is today a young architect graduated in Architecture by The City College of New York. During her training she worked as a volunteer in child and adolescent support agencies such as Global Kids; and in architecture and jewelry design offices. She presided over the American Institute of Architecture Students for a year. Awarded the Megan Lawrence Memorial Award from the Liberal Arts Honors Scholar and the NYCOBA as a representative of diversity in architecture school; contemplated with the Center For Architecture Heritage Ball scholarship in 2014. In March 2017, she was named one of the 20 distinguished architects and designers at the "Say It Loud" exhibition, which celebrates and highlights the distinguished work of black, Hispanic and Asian professionals across the United States.
Jennifer N. Carruthers
North American, Jennifer N. Carruthers is a designer and architect. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Yale University, and a curriculum ranging from architectural projects to productions covering the concept of installations and artistic interventions. Carruthers has been through offices such as Robert A. M. Sterns Architects (New York), Adjaye/Associates (London), Deborah Berke, and currently works at her studio, located in Minneapolis, called Dream The Combine. Directed by her and her partner, Tom Carruthers, the studio seeks to work on projects with conceptual overlays in art, architecture and cultural theory, with specific facilities in the United States and Canada. The architect also has academic positions, being a professor at Juxtaposition Arts, at the University of Minnesota and the publication of texts such as "Does Black Architecture Exist?" She and her partner were one of the few finalists in the Young Architects Program at MoMA, the 2018 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (Museum of Modern Art), in which they will have the challenge of designing an external installation in the courtyard of MoMA. One of her best-known works is the Longing installation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raquel Freire, 22 years old.
Student in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Brasilia and a member of the Arquitetas Invisíveis (Invisible Architects) collective.
"The lack of visibility of black women in the architecture profession was a great mystery to me as a black student. And the fact of not seeing them in the academic references or the used research platforms was not a barrier for an immediate search to begin. I looked for résumés, profiles, facts and stories about them. It was a desire for recognition and empowerment, for black women, whether students or professionals, to still be in this universe of architecture and urbanism, even in the face of the economic, social and racial difficulties we have experienced and shared in our life stories. It was a way not only of knowing that we can be found, but to know that these women are changing those stereotypes that have been passed down to us throughout history."
Editors Note: This article was originally published with inaccuracies that have now been corrected.
Jennifer N. Carruthers é designer e arquiteta. Possui graduação e mestrado pela Universidade Yale, com um currículo que abrange desde projetos arquitetônicos a produções conceituais de instalações e intervenções artísticas. Carruthers já passou por escritórios como Robert A. M. Sterns Architects (Nova York), Adjaye Associates (Londres), Deborah Berke  e atualmente trabalha em seu estúdio, localizado em Minneapolis, chamado Dream The Combine. Comandado por ela e por seu parceiro, Tom Carruthers, o estúdio procura trabalhar projetos arquitetônicos com sobreposições conceituais na arte, arquitetura e teoria cultural, com instalações específicas nos Estados Unidos e no Canadá. A arquiteta também atua na acadêmia, tendo atuado como instrutora na Juxtaposition Arts, e hoje como professora na Universidade de Minnesota e publicando textos como “Does African-American Architecture Exist?” (Existe uma arquitetura afro-americana?). Ela e seu parceiro foram uns dos ganhadores do Programa para Jovens Arquitetos do MoMA - Museu de Arte Moderna em 2018 (em tradução livre da autora para o 2018 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program) (Museu da Arte Moderna), no qual projetaram uma instalação externa no pátio do MoMA PS1. Uma de suas instalações mais conhecidas é a Longing.