AIA Los Angeles - 2017 Membership Directory & Resource Guide - 34
Map of Los Angeles Buildings by
African American Architects Debuts
at NOMA 2016 Conference
New Map Highlights Civic and Other Important
Projects in which African American Architects
were Significant Contributors
Yes, there's Google Maps, but a new entry in the cartography realm
traces architectural territory in the Los Angeles region not accessible
elsewhere. A map, published in 2016 by the AIA|LA, highlights projects in which African American architects, past and present, were
significant contributors. Projects selected for inclusion hold social,
cultural and/or historical relevance.
The cited schools, civic centers, hospitals, housing developments
and commercial projects impact their communities or Los Angeles
at-large in a positive way. In addition to being a historical record, the
endeavor is intended to inspire next-generation African American
professionals and to motivate all minorities to pursue professions
in the AEC community.
The project is the idea of Debra Gerod, FAIA, Partner at Gruen
Associates, and 2016 President of the AIA|LA Board of Directors.
She was looking for a meaningful way to have AIA|LA show support
for the 2016 National Organization of Minority Architects conference.
Gerod decided to initiate the mapping of buildings completed by
African Americans architects in Los Angeles in order to develop
awareness of this body of work.
At Gruen Associates, Jason E. Morris, AIA, and high school intern
Shaellen Franco, from the ACE Mentor Program, took on the project.
Its secondary objective-to increase African American participation
in the AEC fields-was initiated when Morris, who as an Ex-Officio
Associate Director also serves on the AIA|LA Board, realized there
were fewer African American Architects practicing in Los Angeles
and fewer buildings to include than he'd hoped.
The reasons include lack of opportunities as well as instances when
African American architects did not receive due recognition for their
contributions, leadership and/or design on projects. Morris also
saw a gap in terms of having a key inspirational figure that exposed
to the field and encouraged next-generation designers to enter
"In doing my research-many architects of the previous generation
were motivated by seeing Paul Williams [FAIA] and the high-profile
clients he attracted," Morris says. "We may not see another Paul
Williams in our lifetime, but with the map, there's an aggregate of all
these accomplished architects joining Williams that students may
see as examples today and always."