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The Plight of Minority Architects

<p>This article from <em>Next American City</em> looks at the decreasing numbers of minority architects and the possible problems this shortage poses to the field and to the planning of cities.</p>
April 3, 2008, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Today, cities are experiencing radical redevelopment, especially in neighborhoods dominated by African and Latino-Americans. Yet, there are few black and Hispanic professionals with architectural and planning experience involved in the destinies of the communities that produced them. Less than two percent of licensed architects are African-American and three percent are self-identified Latino-American."

"Despite the demand for architects, it's been an uphill battle for small companies like Spectrum Associates to get work. They get out-bid by major firms that are exclusively owned and staffed by white professionals. Their best hope is a partnership with the majors, or having small portions of large-scale developments sub-contracted to them."

"When the Montgomery, Ala., public school board hired black architect Major Holland to build new schools, he told the local news team, 'Invitations are normally sent out to firms, and I don't recall being invited to submit a proposal.'"

"Given America's history with African-American builders, it's disappointing more don't exist. About 35 percent of the 1,625 licensed black architects (of which only 210 are women) come from the seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that offer the discipline. That number may soon drop to six. Last year, Tuskegee University's architecture department lost its accreditation - the same institution founded by black architects such as Booker T. Washington, who emphasized agricultural and architectural mastery to combat oppression. Many of the Tuskegee buildings standing today were designed and constructed by the school's first students."

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Published on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 in The Next American City
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