CRTKL Celebrates Black History Month: Black Voices in Architecture Throughout History

Clare Sausen February 11, 2021

This guide was created to explore the legacy of prominent Black voices in architecture and discuss racism, social movements, and civil rights as they manifest in the built environment at the intersection of housing, transit, density, urban development, decay and discrimination.

Note: For any books or media where a purchase is necessary, please consider using your local library or, if you’re unable to, a Black-owned independent bookstore. Libraries offer services and products that level the intellectual playing field. They allow people of any income level or background to access high-quality information, to use computers, to borrow materials they want or need. The best way to support local libraries is by using them, even though you, yourself, may not need to. By supporting libraries, you are supporting the people that do have that need. Together we can create a more equitable future for everyone.






  • National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) – NOMA’s mission, rooted in a rich legacy of activism, is to empower our local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence.
  • Association for Community Design (ACD) – A network of individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to increasing the capacity of planning and design professions to better serve communities. ACD serves and supports practitioners, educators, and organizations engaged in community-based design and planning.
  • Black Interior Designers Network — The Black Interior Designers Network’s mission is to promote diversity and inclusion within the interior design industry by highlighting designers of color and supporting black designers with business development opportunities.
  • Organization of Black Designers — OBD is a national professional organization of interior, industrial, architectural, fashion and graphic designers dedicated to promoting the visibility, empowerment, education and interaction of its membership and the understanding and value that diverse design perspectives contribute to world culture and commerce.
  • Black Females in Architecture — Black Females in Architecture (BFA) is a network and enterprise founded to increase the visibility of black and black mixed heritage females within architectural industry and other built environment fields. In so doing, BFA actively addresses issues of inequality and diversity within the industry
  • Beyond the Built Environment — The role of architects in community life has been rendered largely irrelevant as the profession has historically been, and continues to be, an exclusive resource serving primarily wealthy patrons. Such exclusivity fosters and perpetuates great inequity in the built environment – inequities which more adversely affect communities of color. In 1968, activist Whitney Young sharply rebuked the profession by stating “You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights… You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance”. My belief is that strong and healthy communities, rich in diversity make strong nations. As architects, we have the power to represent more than ourselves and representation is quintessential to achieving equitable diversity.

Author Spotlight

Clare Sausen
Clare Sausen is a Content Writer for CallisonRTKL. Based in Washington, D.C., she leverages her personal and professional experience in journalism, radio, and nonprofit communication to serve as a valuable member of the global firmwide team. Since attaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in Communication and American Studies, she has honed her craft of architectural storytelling across multiple platforms.