NC’s Pioneering Black Architects Get National Attention

Recent Past Preservation Network features notable North Carolina heroes. 

May 4, 2011 (Durham, NC) – The Recent Past Preservation Network (RPPN), a national organization preserving historic buildings and sites from the last 50 years, featured Triangle Modernist Houses.com’s recent series on early NC black architects.  The feature covers a five-page spread in the Spring 2011 edition online magazine RPPN Bulletin.

Entitled “Triangle Modernist Houses Honors Pioneering NC Black Architects,” the article discusses how the award-winning non-profit organization and its founder, George Smart, were inspired to launch the series during Black History Month this past February.

“African American men who followed their hearts into architecture before 1970s did so despite great resistance from both society and their own industry,” Smart told RPPN.

“Today there are many black architects in North Carolina, but before 1970 it was another story, and not a nice one. The field of architecture made choosing the profession nearly impossible for minorities. In North Carolina, there were almost none for decades.”

The RPPN article includes a list of 17 architects featured on the Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) website thus far, and some photos of those architects’ work.

In contrast to the relative cloak of obscurity under which those pioneering architects practiced, the RPPN article notes some of the very prominent black architects practicing in North Carolina today, including Loeb Fellowship winner Phil Freelon, FAIA, founder and principal of The Freelon Group in Durham, and Harvey Gantt, FAIA, principal partner of Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte, former Mayor of the City of Charlotte, and the man for whom The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte is named.

“It means so much to have a national resource such as RPPN recognize these important men in North Carolina’s design history, past and present,” Smart said recently. “A spotlight for them in RPPN’s Spring Bulletin is indeed an honor.”

To view the article, go to www.recentpast.org and click on the photo of the Bulletin.

To view the TMH archive “Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina,” visit www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/ncblack.htm.

About RPPN:

The Recent Past Preservation Network promotes preservation education, assistance, and activism through the medium of new technologies, to encourage a contextual understanding of our modern built environment. The Network assists preservationists by providing an open community platform for the development and revision of practical strategies to document, preserve, and re-use historic places of the recent past. In carrying out its mission, RPPN engages in  a wide variety of activities of a charitable and educational nature. For more information visit www.recentpast.org.

About Triangle Modernist Houses:

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is an award-winning, 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 devoted to archiving, preserving and promoting modernist architecture in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill “Triangle” region of North Carolina. It has since grown to feature modernist houses and their designers statewide and includes an archive of national and international modernist architects. TMH continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism by hosting popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. For more information visit www.trianglemodernisthouses.com. TMH also maintains an active Facebook page.

TMH Honors North Carolina’s Pioneering Black Architects

The new online archive celebrates early Carolina pioneers

Gaston Alonzo Edwards (1875-1943), the first black architect licensed in NC.

 

February 4, 2011 (DURHAM, NC) – To honor Black History Month, Triangle Modernist Houses.com (TMH) has launched a new online archive entitled “Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina.” The series is a sequel to last year’s popular “Pioneering Women in North Carolina Architecture.”

 

This series focuses on black design professionals before 1970, those “who followed their hearts into architecture despite great resistance from both society and their own industry,” says George Smart, TMH founder and director.  Mechanics and Farmers Bank, The Michael Okoli Agency, and architect Arthur Clement provided financial support for the series.

 

“Today there are many minority architects in North Carolina, but before 1970 it was another story, and not a nice one,” Smart says. “The field of architecture made choosing the profession nearly impossible for minorities. In North Carolina, there were almost none for decades.”

 

Art Clement, the first black student accepted into the NCSU School of Design.

According to TMH research, there were only two black architects registered in North Carolina in 1950. By 1980, the number increased to 65. Among the number of black architects practicing in the state today are prominent North Carolinians Phil Freelon, FAIA, principal of The Freelon Group in Durham, and Harvey Gantt, FAIA, principal of Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte.

 

Over the next few months, the series will profile approximately 20 architects.

 

It begins with six:  Robert Robinson Taylor (1868-1942), a native of Wilmington, NC, and the first professionally trained black architect in the United States; Chatham County native Gaston Alonzo Edwards (1875-1943), the first black architect licensed in North Carolina and the only one for many years; William Alfred Streat, Jr., AIA (1920-1994), who served as professor and chair of the Architectural Engineering Department at NCA&T University in Greensboro from 1949 until he retired; Clinton Eugene Gravely, AIA; Joseph Henry Yongue, AIA; and Arthur John Clement, the first black student accepted into the NCSU School of Design in Raleigh.

 

To see Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina, go to www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/ncblack.htm.

 

About Triangle Modernist Houses

 

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is a 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 to restoring and growing modernist architecture in the Triangle. The award-winning website, now the largest educational and historical archive for modernist residential design in America, continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism.  TMH also hosts popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours raise awareness and help preserve these “livable works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at www.trianglemodernisthouses.com.