Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. stood before a crowd of mostly white and male architects as he delivered a historic speech that called out racism and other issues of diversity in the architecture and design industries. Today, the profession has arguably improved thanks to his words and subsequent leaders. A new exhibition, 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr., at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D.C., surveys the legacy of the National Urban League, which Young led for a decade, and his impact on the AIA. Following Young’s exhortation, AIA officials undertook several actions, including launching a task force to support equal opportunities for minority groups, and developing architecture programs to improve living conditions in urban neighborhoods. In 1970, the Diversity Advancement Scholarship was created thanks to a Ford Foundation grant to recognize talented and emerging minority designers. Shortly following Young’s death in 1971, the AIA founded the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award which recognizes architects and organizations who contribute in areas of affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access. The Octagon Museum exhibition highlights past recipients of the award, from the inaugural recipient Robert J. Nash, FAIA, who became the first African American architect elected to national AIA office, to the latest recipient, Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, who was the first Native American woman to become a licensed US architect. “My dad had wanted to be an architect since he was in high school... His father, a tribal leader, once said, ‘One day, our tribe will be in a position to rebuild and change our situation, and we are going to need architects and lawyers to do it,’” Eagle Bull explained in a 2017 AIA interview. “But when my father went to his non-Native counselor at school, the counselor said, ‘The best you can hope for is to be a teacher.’ So he became a teacher, and had a wonderful career, but he always regretted not becoming an architect.” At her firm, Encompass Architects in Lincoln, Nebraska, Eagle Bull is committed to creating culturally relevant and responsible design for Native American communities. The exhibition also showcases key figures in the fight for diversity within architecture. Alongside Young and Eagle Bull, the list includes Paul R. Williams, FAIA, who was the first black architect in the AIA College of Fellows and defined Southern California Style. Julia Morgan, FAIA, posthumously became the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal and used her combined talents within technology and design to further the field. Also included in the exhibit is an introduction to the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), which aims at leveling the professional playing field, as well as a profile of Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, who was the first African American woman elected to the AIA College of Fellows in 1980 and received the Whitney Young Award in 2008. 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. also features a comprehensive timeline starting in 1857 when the AIA was founded in New York City. It follows the AIA's history up to the present era when Pittsburgh architect William J. Bates, FAIA, became the second elected African American AIA president, succeeding Marshall Purnell, FAIA, in 2007. Other highlighted key leaders include Robert R. Taylor, the first academically-trained African American architect, Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, the first woman to receive the AIA Topaz Medallion, and Gordon Chong, FAIA, the first elected Asian American AIA president. Marci B. Reed, the executive director of the Architects Foundation, noted that both the Diversity Advancement Scholarship Program and the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award help underrepresented minority students to pursue architectural studies and recognize architects and organizations that champion causes of equity and social justice. Reed hopes that the exhibition will “demonstrate the progress we have made since 1968, and how seriously the AIA and the Architects Foundation take Young’s charge today.” 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. is now on view through November 24 at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D.C. It was organized by the Architects Foundation, a philanthropic partner of the AIA. 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. On view through November 24, 2018 The Octagon Museum 1799 New York Ave NW Washington, DC 20006 Thursday–Saturday, 1–4pm
Posts tagged with "Paul Williams":
Las Vegas' most interesting cultural attraction is not on The Strip. It's the Neon Museum, which finally opened its new visitors center last weekend inside the lobby of the former La Concha Motel, a Googie masterpiece designed by Paul Williams. The Downtown Vegas museum, which opened in 1996, includes a boneyard containing over 150 neon signs from hotels, motels, roadside attractions, and businesses, dating back to the 1930s. Some of our favorites include the Atomic Age Stardust Hotel sign and a freestanding sign of a man known as the "Mullet Man." The museum has also installed some of its signs along Las Vegas Boulevard and on Fremont Street. More pix from the boneyard below.
The NY Times this weekend reported on the status of one of our favorite LA structures: LAX's UFO-like Theme Building. It looks like the ugly scaffolding which has adorned the parabolic edifice for the past couple of years is finally down, and the structural retrofit of the building (originally designed in 1961 by Paul Williams and Pereira & Luckman) is just about finished. The building underwent the procedure after a 1,000-pound chunk fell off one of the upper arches and landed on the roof of a restaurant. In addition to a sparkling new paint job, the Theme is now reinforced with a 1.2 million-pound tuned mass damper that sits on flexible bearings. The $12.3 million project was completed by Gin Wong Associates architects and Tower General Contractors. For those interested in unique LA experiences we recommend checking out the observation deck and the Encounter restaurant.