In his 1968 keynote address to the AIA Convention in Portland, Oregon, Whitney M. Young, Jr., head of the Urban League, challenges the AIA on issues relating to social responsibility and diversity within the profession: “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.” “We are going to have to have people as committed to doing the right thing to inclusiveness as we have in the past to exclusiveness.”
Twelve African-American architects from different parts of the country met, some for the first time, during the AIA National Convention in Detroit in 1971. What these professionals recognized was the desperate need for an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of minority architects.
Present at the creation were William Brown, Leroy Campbell, Wendell Campbell, John S. Chase, James C. Dodd, Kenneth B. Groggs, Nelson Harris, Jeh Johnson, E.H. McDowell, Robert J. Nash, Harold Williams, and Robert Wilson. These African American architects wanted minority design professionals to work together to fight discriminatory policies that limit or bar minority architects from participating in design and constructions programs.
That was the beginning of the National Organization of Minority Architects, an increasing influential voice, promoting the quality and excellence of minority design professionals. There are NOMA Chapters in all parts of the country, increasing recognition on colleges and university campuses and providing greater access to government policy makers.
Visit noma.net to learn more about NOMA and upcoming events such as national conferences.
SoCalNOMA seeks to advance and support the education and careers of those who have been historically under-represented in the field of architecture and various allied design/build professions. Members include architects, designers, civil engineers, structural engineers, interior designers, urban planners and product manufacturers. The SoCalNOMA chapter was founded in 1982 and was originally called the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (LANOMA). Amongst the Chapter’s historic events and accomplishments were the creation of an exhibit of local chapter African-American architects (hosted by the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall), the sponsorship of student chapters at U.S.C., Woodbury, Cal Baptist and Cal Poly SLO schools of Architecture, hosting of the annual National NOMA Conference and pro-bono professional design services on the redevelopment of Leimert Park Village and other urban community redevelopment aspirations.
SoCalNOMA hosts a variety of activities designed to inform and serve as a vehicle for building professionally beneficial relationships. Past regular activities have included networking socials as well as information sessions hosted by vendors and members. We also enjoy informal meet-ups at lectures and on design tours.
Mentoring is not only encouraged but passionately nurtured as a result of a nationwide NOMA initiative – Project Pipeline. In conjunction with the American Institute of Architects, a concerted effort is being placed on exposing youth to architecture and its diverse career path opportunities. SoCalNOMA has annually hosted a summer camp for young teens the past ten years.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. Our SoCal NOMA leadership team does just that with a level of dedication and attention to detail that is unmatched. While every single member is a leader in their own right, thank you to the Executive Board for continuing to steer the ship in a forward direction!
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