Profiles...Just the begining



On January 13th a tweet started a list of Female Architects of Colour we would like to grow:

Following that we thought it would be useful to collect names and profiles of female architects of colour in one place.To get our  list going we are publishing the full list of women and organisations   sent to us that first week. We'll be adding profiles over the coming weeks...

Learning about those women and organisations was hugely illuminating for me, a UK based architect, and I would also really to learn from what the US is doing and get a list going here in the UK.  We're planning a launch for the UK list to go along with our film on the subject.

Norma Merrick Sklarek


As the first licensed female African American architect in New York and California and one of the first in the US, Norma Merrick Sklarek's  documented existence and work inspired the XXAOC project and our desire to know who the first#femalearchitectsofcolour  were here in the UK. 

A pioneer she was one of only two women to graduate from her class, Norma Sklarek received her architecture degree in 1950, from  Columbia University's School of Architecture, going on to work at Skidmore Owings and Merrill, SOM and becoming the  first Black female director at Gruen and Associates in Los Angeles.

In 1966 She  co-founded Siegel, Sklarek, and Diamond, which became the largest woman-owned firm at the time.

Sharon Egretta Sutton


Since that tweet, we've had the pleasure of speaking to this amazing pioneer and as part of the research for our film.  You can read the full interview on Parlour.
Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA is an architect, activist, educator and public scholar, who began her formal architectural training at Columbia University, following the turmoil which swept the US in 1968. She was part of a cohort of Black and Hispanic students  who were admitted to Columbia following  race riots and students sit ins.
She would go on to be the only the twelfth African America woman to register as an architect in the US;  the first to be promoted to full professor of architecture, the second to be elected a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the first to be president of the National Architectural Accrediting Board.   
Over the years she has been the recipient of numerous awards, which include  the Medal of Honour from the AIA Seattle  and the AIA New York , in 2014 and 2017 respectively. 




Another inspirational group brought to out attention from across the pond is NOMA, @NOMArchitects, suggested by @aninsggirb, The National Organisation of Minority Architects  (NOMA),  are doing amazing work to link professionals and students and to help change neighbourhoods and communities. Their stated mission is to 'champion diversity within the design professions by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of its members'.

NOMA had it's origins in a meeting of 

twelve African-American architects from different parts of the

US during an AIA National Convention in Detroit in 1971.  Recognising   a desperate need for an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of minority architects, the seeds of  NOMA were sewn.

Equity By Design


Rosa Cheng @rosasheng is founding chair of Equity by Design  @EquityxDesign suggested by @Farajidc,@JC_Cali and @livmuk

Equity by Design seeks to tackle

'The lack of equity in architectural practice and allied professions ' and grew out of the The Missing 32% incubator event in 2011 an symposium on 2012.

These events lead to the Equity by Design website which  'is envisioned as a forum for conversation, a repository for articles, research, guides for equitable practice and a place for honoring the achievements of architects supporting equitable practice.'

Since it's inception the site has become a valuable resource featuring research into the issues around equity in design. In the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey detailing the stark differences experienced by various groups in America during their careers was published on the site.

Minnette De Silva


Suggested by @pea_proposals, and the first to go on our UK timeline (l, Minnette De Silva, was a brilliant female architect, once world famous but since forgotten by history.  

She pioneered the use of modern style in her home Sri Lanka, fusing it with traditional architectural styles. She was the first Asian woman to be elected an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1948, the first Asian representative at International Congress of Modern Architecture ( CIAM), attending the 6th conference in Bridgewater, Somerset in 1947, when she was just 29 and still a student.

Defying her father’s lack of approval, she arrived in London 1946 to study at the Architectural Association. Known for her stunning, silk, saris, and for wearing fresh flowers in her hair, she caused quite a stir in the London and architectural world of the time.  Indeed, it was remarked that she was often followed by a train of men carrying her bags and drawing materials.

Her long friendship and correspondence with the Architect Le Corbusier is the subject of the new novel Plastic Emotionsby Shimi Pinto, published by influx press.