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Great Black American Architects

Black Architects Who Helped Build America

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Julian Abele (1881 - 1950)

Historic black and white photo of black architect Julian Abele, early 20th century
Photo courtesy Duke University Archives digital collection, Julian Abele (1881-1950), modified

Julian Abele was one of the major American architects, but he never signed his work and it was not publicly acknowledged. Abele's original architectural drawings for Duke University have been described as works of art with exquisite in detail.

Moses McKissack, III (1879 - 1952)

Moses McKissack III was the grandson of an African-born slave who became a master builder. Moses III joined his brother Calvin to form one of the earliest African-American architectural firms in the USA. Building on the family legacy, the firm of McKissack and McKissack has designed thousands of facilities.

William Sidney Pittman (1875 - 1958)

During a brief yet innovative career, William Sidney Pittman was commissioned to design several important buildings in Washington, DC. Often reaching for the unexpected in his work, Pittman died penniless at the age of 82.

Wallace Rayfield (1873 - 1941)

Wallace Rayfield Architect
From Beacon Lights of the Race, 1911.
While Wallace Augustus Rayfield was a student at Columbia University, Booker T. Washington recruited him to head the Architectural and Mechanical Drawing Department at Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama. After a few years, Rayfield opened his own practice in Birmingham, Alabama, where he designed many homes and churches. Rayfield was the second professionally-educated black architect in the United States.

Robert Robinson Taylor (1868 - 1942)

Educated at MIT, Robert Robinson Taylor was America's first formally trained architect. Like Wallace Rayfield, Taylor spent time teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and met the prominent Black educator and leader Booker T. Washington. Robert Robinson Taylor designed several buildings at Tuskegee Institute and he helped other African Americans launch careers in architecture.
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