First group architects of colour appeared in mid 1800s in United States.  Their work, talent and perseverance cemented the way for the future professionals. Before the American Civil War, many slaves learned building and engineering skills while working for their owners. These skills were passed down to their children after the war, which was the starting of point of them becoming professional architects. Though by 1930 only 60 black American were listed as registered architects and their work is not recorded or has changed with time.

Even after hardships, many of these architects rose to popularity for their marvellous works around USA. Here are 15 Influential Architects of color practicing in the USA.

1. Roberta Washington

Roberta Washington is a notable architect practicing in New York City. She is the founder of Roberta Washington Architects established in 1983 which is one of the few architecture firms owned by women of color in the United States of America. She was also appointed to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2007.

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Roberta Washington works ©
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Roberta Project: 1400 Fifth Avenue, New York ©www.robertawashingtonarchitects
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Roberta Washington ©

2.Mabel O Wilson

Mabel O Wilson is a leading architect and also an advocate for black rights in The USA. She is also the founder of various organizations and also a well-established writer, some of her works are -‘Race and Modern Architecture: A critical history from the enlightenment to the present’ and ‘Negro Building: Black Americans in the world of Fairs and Museums’.


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SmithsonianNational Museum of AfricanAmerican history©The Architects Newspaper
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Smithsonian National Museum of African American history©ArchPaper

3. Germane Barnes

Germane is a practicing architect at Chicago, Illinois. He is known for his work in reviving the Miami cultural suburbs known as OpaLocka. He is also a lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Miami.

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Germane Barnes ©Archinet

4. Michael Ford

Michael Ford is a practicing architect in The US and is the founder of BrandNu Design. His design projects a style known as HipHop architecture formulated by him. He conducts Hip Hop camps which aims at teaching children of minority community’s architecture and urban design through music.

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5. Yolande Daniels

Yolande is a practicing architect in Long Island City, New York. She is the founder of the architecture firm Studio Sumo. She is a recipient of various prestigious awards such as the Rome Prize in Architecture and a fellow of organizations such as the American Academy in Rome and MacDowell Colony.

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Yolande Daniels ©www.beyondthebuilt
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6. Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner is one of the senior-most architects practicing in New York. He is the co-founder of Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects. His most recognized work is the Marc Jacobs Tokyo Flagship building which received an award of excellence from AIA New York.

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7. Tonja Adair

Tonja is a practicing architect in the state of New York and is the founder of Splice Design. Her projects range from residential spaces to small-large commercial areas spread internationally. She believes architecture can form meaning and provide relevance with attention to our viewpoints/context, the aesthetics of material and form, and the role sustainability can play in our futures.

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8. Clarisse Francois

Clarrisa is an architect practicing in New York. She is a recipient of the Jumaane Omar Stewart Award Scholarship. She currently works as a project manager at Jack L Gordon Architects in New York and handles projects that vary from residences to health care centers. She is also a member of NOMA(National Organisation of Minority Architects).

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9. Mel Garber

is a practicing architect in New York. He initially started as a structural engineer and later kept switching between design engineering to preservation work. Some of his notable works are African Burial Ground National monument, British Library, and Terminal 4 of JFK International Airport.

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Mel Garber and Marc Jacobs Tokyo Flagship Building ©Architizer

10. Jared Smith

Jared Smith is a practicing architect in New York and is a member of NOMA(National Organisation of Minority Architects). He is an aficionado of writing and photography besides architecture and is the founder of a blog named Architect Owl. His works range from residential to institutional design.

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11. Rodney Leon

Rodney is a practicing architect in the USA. He is the founder of Rodney Leon Architects and has expertise in various categories ranging from residential to urban planning. The firms’ major philosophy is to craft spaces of contextual significance.

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12. Samantha Josephat

She is a practicing architect in Brooklyn New York and is a member of NOMA. She is the founder of Studio 397 architecture PLLC. She is the 397th person to be registered as an architect hence the name of the firm. She is also a professor at Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.

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13. Marshall Purnell

Marshall Purnell is a well-known architect in Ohio and was the president of AIA in 2008. He is the co-founder of Deveraux and Purnell Architects and Planners. Some of his works are Martin Luther King Memorial, National Park, and Washington Convention Center.

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14. Terrance O’Neal

Terrance is a practicing architect in the US. He along with his wife Heather O Neal are the founders of Terrance O Neal Architects that expertise in residences, health care public schools, and corporate interiors. They are members of NOMA and AIA and have also been in several leadership roles for the same.

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15. Curtis Moody

Curtis is a practicing architect of color in Ohio. He is the founder of Moody Nolan Architects, the largest African American owned architecture firm in the US. The firms handle projects of various categories ranging from sports – academic to mixed-use developments.

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Curtis Moody ©Architect Magazin

Anjana Sasikumar, an aspiring architect and writer; is an aficionado of words and an avid reader. She believes that the experience a person embarks on or the true essence of an environment is best expressed with words.