FIRST 500 is a global initiative documenting the achievements of Black women architects, and now the organization has launched a new website. Serving as a digital archive, the website aims to raise awareness about Black women architects and their accomplishments, provide resources for students, practitioners and aspiring architects, and build a community for Black women in the field.
Currently, Black women make up less than 1% of all licensed architects in the United States. Founded and led by Tiara Hughes, FIRST 500 is a global platform that addresses this industry-wide equity gap. Tiara’s personal experiences in the industry along with her passion for advocacy led her to establish the national research initiative in 2018. As the founder and executive director of FIRST 500, Tiara travels the country to raise awareness of the importance of Black women architects throughout history and their contribution to the built environment.
As the organization outlines, their mission is to "elevate and celebrate Black women architects and their accomplishments, to provide a centralized community and resources for designers of all levels, and to inspire Black women to infinitely increase their licensed representation in the industry to better reflect the communities we design for." The website now provides a permanent place to showcase their stories.
“When I finished my masters in 2015 and made the big move from Springfield, Missouri to Chicago, my goal was to connect with Black women architects and learn the ropes of the industry. I quickly learned there was no central resource for this distinguished group and their accomplishments, and that of the 105,000+ licensed architects in the United States at that time, less than 500 of them identified as Black women. Equipped with this information, I founded FIRST 500, a global initiative dedicated to celebrating and connecting Black women architects,” says Tiara Hughes, Founder and Executive Director of FIRST 500.
More updates will be released, including additional profiles and resources for those on their journey. Board members include Adaeze Cadet, Danei Cesario, Dawn David-Pierre, Kiwana McClung, Latoya Kamdang, Lisa Cholmondeley, and Valarie Franklin, and the advisory council includes Anzilla Gilmore, FAIA, June Grant, FAIA, Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, and Dina Griffin, FAIA.
For any inquiries or to learn more about the FIRST 500, please visit www.first500.org