In his book, The Crisis of African American Architects, Melvin L. Miller, FAIA, suggests that based solely upon influences, the work of iconic architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Cobusier could be considered examples of “Black Architecture.” Although Miller’s assertion is open for debate, there is no debating the long and rich contribution people of African heritage have made in the field of architecture. Whether it is the Great Mosque of Djenné built in the 13th century, John Moutoussany’s Johnson Publishing Company building on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, or Paul Williams’ iconic Theme Building that greets millions of visitors to the Los Angeles International Airport, men and woman of African heritage have made significant contributions to the field of architecture.
The panel discussion, Blueprints in Black: Black Architects, Past, Present, and Future will examine the role that architects of African heritage have played in shaping architecture.
Confirmed panelists include, Carolyn Armenta Davis, AIA and Roslyn Mitchell, AIA. Architectural historian, Lee Bey is the scheduled moderator.
Rosalyn L. Mitchell, AIA is the principal founder of the firm, Forms + Funktion. With offices based in Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana, the firm’s motto, “designs for humanity” is inspired by a belief that the quality of life for individuals and communities can be elevated by design. Part of the success behind Forms + Funktion is the firm’s acuity for the unique and complex issues involved with designing for urban environments.
Carolyn Armenta Davis, Hon. AIA, is an internationally recognized historian, lecturer, curator and writer on contemporary architecture and African/Black Diaspora architects. Her work often explores the intersections of design, culture, ecology, politics and geo-economics informing African architects, and architects of the African Diaspora. Her seminal exhibition, “Design Diaspora: Black Architects and International Architecture 1970-1990TM ” traveled to four continents and focused on built designs by 50 contemporary architects of the African Diaspora, and was the first exhibition to celebrate a transatlantic view of Black architects post the 1960s catalytic civil rights and de-colonization era.
In 2014, Davis was awarded honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects for her contributions for criticism, writing and historical analysis of the African presence and contributions in architecture.