History of Black Architects

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Black Architects

There are enormous social and economic barriers that were faced by black people who helped in building the United States. In the hustles of the civil war, black people who were slaves at that time learned the engineering and building skills that were to benefit their masters directly. These skills were later passed to the young African-Americans by their parents, and as a result they took advantage of the then growing profession of architecture in the United States (Craven, n.p). As a result of their minority status, by 1930, only 60 black professionals were listed as licensed architects, and currently, a report by the National Association of Minority Architects indicates that less than two percent of the more than 100,000 registered architects in America are black (Oguntoyinbo, n.p). In this regard, there is a common feeling that the struggles of completing the course itself and those of getting licensed after finishing college could be the reason why the black numbers in the field of architecture are low. There is also a feeling that the currently licensed architects are not getting the recognition that they deserve. In a bid to recognize the black architects, this paper will look at the pioneer architecture programs at the eight predominantly black universities and the key people that were associated with each program at each university. Written by professionals at https://www.wepapers.com.

Of the eight predominantly black universities that pioneered architectural studies for the black people, Tuskegee University turns out to be a conspicuous one. It was the first black dominated university to have an architecture program after the turn of the century. It started as an industrial art program, but it was later passed as an architecture program. The success of the architecture program in this institution is credited to the then president of the University Washington Booker T, for his visionary efforts that culminated into the first architectural program in a black dominated university. Credit also goes to Robinson Taylor who was the first black architect to be accredited. He helped built the school’s architecture program and also designed some of the iconic buildings in the school. Howard University is the other institution that also pioneered architectural programs among the predominantly black universities. The architectural program at this university started as a manual arts and applied sciences program, and it took shape in 1911. Notable architects such as William Hazel, Albert Cassel, Halyard Robinson, and Howard Mackey are some of the people who were associated with the architectural program in Howard University(“History | Howard University – Architecture,” n.p).

The other university that pioneered the architectural programs among the black dominated universities is the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. The university also embraced this program in the early 20th century almost thirty years after its inception in the American universities, and besides agricultural courses, architectural studies are currently second in the number of courses offered by the university. Some of the people who were associated with this program include William Pittman, who stands out as the first African American to receive a federal contract in 1907. Hampton University is the other institution that also established an architectural program for black Americans and graduating its last students in that particular program in 1923. The program was based on environmental, civic and global responsibilities. This was with the aim of developing and exploring the local and urban environments, and in this regard, some of the environmental design issues in this program included community and urban preservation and revitalization, community design education and awareness, and the development of affordable housing and neighborhoods. Some of the people who were associated with this program include John Spencer who chaired the architectural department in this university for more than 25 years and John Case who was the co-founder of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

The fifth black dominated university that also pioneered the inception of architectural programs in black dominated universities is the Morgan State University. The architecture program at Morgan State University aimed at addressing the physical, economic, political, social and environmental issues that could face urban populations, and in this regard, the positioning of the university in Baltimore was strategic for this program as it exposed the students to a direct contact with the urban environment and people. Some of the people who were associated with this program include Homer E. Favor whose dissertation on race and property value was aligned with the interests of the poor urban communities (“Our History,” n.p). The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University is the other institution that also paved the way for the inclusion of the African-Americans in the architectural programs. Through its landscape architecture program, the university trained students to plan for natural and human-made environments for the purposes of land use and development. Some of the people who were associated with the program include Ferdinand Bluford who was appointed the president of the university in 1925 and played a critical role in the creation of the architecture department in the university.

The Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University which is another historically black dominated university also formed part of the eight universities that first offered the architectural programs to the black students. The program focused on helping the rural communities and inner-city neighborhoods in Texas to identify their needs and shape their communities. Some of the people who were associated with this program include Nathelyne Archie Kennedy who graduated from the university in 1959 and was a bridge design engineer (“School Of Architecture – School Of Architecture,” n.p). The last university in the context of first black dominated colleges that offered architectural programs is the Southern University. The goal of the architecture program in this university was to equip students with knowledge and skills that would enable them to assist the underserved rural and urban communities in Louisiana. Some of the people associated with this program include Vertner Tandy who is known for various architectural designs.

From the above discussion, eight universities which are Tuskegee University, Howard University, Hampton University,  Southern University in Baton, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Morgan State University, Prairie View University, and North Carolina A &T University, all pioneered the architectural university programs for black students. The main aim of these programs was to improve the rural and urban conditions where they were located.