Black architects have shaped, built, and contributed to American cities for generations, and their impacts are still felt in nearly every sector of American business.
In fact, some of our most impressive college campuses, beautiful buildings, and innovative designs have been created by Black architects and their firms. For example, Julian Abele, the University of Pennsylvania’s first Black graduate, designed large portions of Duke University, although his contributions would not be fully appreciated until the 80s.
Another skilled architect, Vertner Woodson Tandy, graduated from Cornell University at the turn of the century and went on to design New York City’s historical St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and a mansion for businesswoman and beauty guru Madame C.J. Walker.
The first Black woman architect to be licensed in the United states, Beverly Loraine Greene, started her career in Chicago in 1942 but later moved to New York City. She was a key architect in the development of Paris’ UNESCO Headquarters, which was completed in 1958.
In order to highlight talented Black architects and their accomplishments we’ve compiled this list – that is by no means exhaustive – to showcase some of the top Black-led architectural firms in our database.
Rhodes + Brito
Based out of Orlando, FL, this firm specializes in K-12, higher ed, transportation, government projects, and private and commercial developments.
Roberta Washington Architects
Based in Harlem, NYC, this firm works primarily with health and educational projects, as well as affordable housing.
Huff + Gooden Architects
This firm was chosen by the City of New York for Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Design and Construction Excellence Program in 2016.
This is the largest Black-owned and Black-managed architecture firm in the United States.
McKissack + McKissack
Originally founded by the grandson of enslaved persons, McKissack + McKissack works on high-profile projects in both the private and public sectors, and ranks 63rd in the top 100 construction-for-fee firms in the U.S.
Smith & Company Architects
A boutique firm, these architects specialize in libraries, theaters, K-12, higher ed, multi-family, and athletic facilities.
Self + Tucker Architects
This firm has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects, the National Organization of Minority Architects and the Memphis Business Journal.
4RM + ULA
Currently operating with locations in both Minnesota and New York, this firm specializes in transit- and aviation-oriented design and community-focused redevelopment projects.
Designing Justice + Designing Spaces
This is a non-profit firm building housing and structures for community building and restorative justice.
A firm based in North Carolina which has worked on projects for South Carolina State University, Wake Technical Community College and the LORD Corporation.
To be sure, Black-led architecture firms are responsible for incredible design, buildings, and communities. Those yearning for valuable alternative perspectives in the buildings they are designing should consider these and other firms to partner with.
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