NOMA: For the LOVE of it

Mayor Michael Nutter welcomed architects from around the nation to Philadelphia for the 42nd Annual National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) International Conference and Exhibition held 10.02-04.14. William Stanley, FAIA, chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows, and 2016 AIA President-elect Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, participanted in the conference at the historic 1932 PSFS Building, designed by William Lescaze and George Howe, now restored and known as Loews Philadelphia Hotel. The conference theme was “For the LOVE of it,” appropriate for the City of Brotherly Love.

Pre-conference activities on Wednesday included a full-day Community Legacy Project at the Lighthouse on Lehigh Avenue and the presentation of entries in the NOMA Student Design Competition. Friday’s General Session featured keynote speaker Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, co-principal and partner of the Washington, DC-based architectural firm Marshall Moya Design. She inspired the audience of professionals and students with an account of her professional journey in which she made a career shift from law to architecture. “A Tale of Two Cities” seminar was led by AIANY Chapter members Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, and Venesa Alicea, AIA, NOMA, and featured Via Verde in the Bronx and Paseo Verde in Philadelphia, two community-based projects developed by Jonathan Rose Companies. The most talked-about tour on Saturday was “Illustrious Shadows,” highlighting the life and works of Julian Francis Abele, Philadelphia’s first African-American architect. He was chief designer of more than 200 buildings, including The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Weidner Building, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The NOMA Prize for Excellence in Design was awarded to Self+Tucker Architects from Memphis, TN, for the renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The museum site is the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968. The NOMA Prize for Excellence in Design in the unbuilt category was awarded to AIANY member Pascale Sablan (Saint-Louis), AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, of FXFOWLE for her proposed redesign of AMHE Haiti School Campus, which was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The students of Georgia Institute of Technology were the first-prize winners of the Student Competition with their design of a facility for children at the historic Divine Lorraine Hotel in North Philadelphia, which, at 10 stories, was considered a “skyscraper” when completed in 1894. The NOMA Conference concluded with the Awards Banquet and a rousing finale of live entertainment to officially introduce the NOMA conference in New Orleans titled “RISE: Social Justice by Design” on 10.14-17.15.

Heather Philip-O’Neal AIA, NOMA is design principal of TONA-Terrence O’Neal Architect LLC. She served as Director of Education on the Board of Directors of the AIA New York Chapter, was treasurer on the national Board of Directors of NOMA, and is past president of NYCOBA/NOMA.