Event: 2% — Women of Color in Design exhibition
Location: Boston Architectural College, Boston, 05.10-17.08
Organizer: Dr. Theodore Landsmark, Assoc. AIA — President, Boston Architectural College
Opened to coincide with the AIA National Convention, the 2% — Women of Color in Design exhibition featured work of one of the smallest segments of the architecture profession: women of color.
Karen Hudson, granddaughter of pioneering African American architect Paul Revere Williams, FAIA, presented AIA President Marshall Purnell, FAIA, with historic possessions belonging to Williams at the exhibition opening. As the first black licensed architect, member of the AIA, and first admitted to the AIA’s College of Fellows, Williams’ certificate of AIA membership and College of Fellows certificate will be valuable additions to the AIA national archives. Hudson, peering over the nearly full lecture hall, commented, “He [Williams] would be happy to see this room so full,” hinting at the number of architects of color who were present.
Recalling the lack of acceptance by professors and fellow students in architecture school, Purnell commented, “I chose this profession. It did not choose me.” He spoke of overcoming obstacles and succeeding through determination and persistence. Key architects from Purnell’s formative years were in the audience to commemorate the moment as well.
Norma Sklarek, FAIA, the 2008 winner of the Whitney Young Citation, was also recognized and honored at the opening as the first African-American woman to be licensed as an architect in 1954.
The exhibition showcased quality work by women architects nationwide, including NY-based architects Roberta Washington, FAIA, and Heather Philip-O’Neal, AIA, principals in their respective firms. The projects ranged from independent work to architects’ work as key persons within firms. One thing is certain: more investigation and exposure of this segment of the industry is needed. “A few colleges and organizations have expressed interest in displaying this exhibition in several cities across the nation,” said Boston Architectural College President Dr. Theodore Landsmark, Assoc. AIA. Stay tuned.