Shifting the Landscape: Black Architects and Planners 1968 to Now text in white on top of two blocks of color, black on top shifted to the left and light blue on bottom shifted ot the right.

September 27 - 29, 2018


The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is proud to present Shifting the Landscape, a symposium focused on the activism, engagement, and impact of black architects and planners over the last fifty years. Shifting the Landscape is a public program aligned with the mission of the museum to collect and share the contributions of African Americans.

The symposium is an extension of the museum’s initiative focused on collecting the archives of black architects. This growing collection aims to provide a resource on black architectural history and a representative archive of the most prolific and influential black architects in the United States and beyond. The museum’s commitment to documenting black architectural history is long-term, and the symposium is one effort among others to highlight the achievements, challenges, and cumulative production of black architects.

Speakers include: Sharon Egretta Sutton, Keynote Presentation; Carla Jackson Bell; Michael Ford; Toni L. Griffin; Zena Howard; Malo Hutson; Olalekan Jeyifous; Melvin L. Mitchell; Curtis Moody; Renee Kemp-Rotan; Arthur Symes; Sara Zewde.

Symposium Overview

Thursday, Sept 27,  4:00pm - 6:30pm

  • Activism in Architecture and Planning: 1968 in Review

Friday, Sept 28 , 8:45am - 6:30pm

  • Keynote Presentation
  • Building a Legacy
  • Designing for the Culture
  • Planning for Justice

Saturday, Sept 29, 2:00pm4:00pm (at the National Museum of African Art)

  • Shifting the Lens: Diaspora Perspectives on Architecture and Design


  • To bring greater visibility to black architects by sharing past achievements and current challenges as well as new passions and enduring commitments
  • To include planners in conversations about the work black architects and other design professionals undertake within the built environment
  • To highlight the projects and advocacy of architects and planners who seek to create just communities and more equitable spaces, thereby improving the quality of life for African Americans and others who have been adversely affected (historically and in the present) by discriminatory policies and practices shaping the built environment
  • To provide students and the general public opportunities to engage with design professionals, thereby making these professions more accessible and attractive career options for future practitioners

Save The Date: September 27-29, 2018

Registration Coming Soon!


Whitney Young, World Telegram & Sun photo by John Bottega.

In June 1968, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Executive Director of the National Urban League, delivered a landmark address to the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He called for more diversity in the profession and he challenged architects to act on critical issues facing urban communities. Following Young’s speech, new funding initiatives opened doors for minority students to pursue architecture and planning degrees in greater numbers. Architect J. Max Bond, Jr. mentored several students of this generation and shaped their commitments to social justice and community needs. The symposium considers what we can learn from that pivotal era in the late 1960s.

How has the field evolved since 1968? What are black architects and planners passionate about today? Who is leading the way forward, and how?

Illustration of a design for 125th Street from the East Harlem Triangle Plan produced by the Architects’ Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH), 1968. Drawing by E. Donald Van Purnell. Courtesy of Arthur Symes.


The symposium is free and open to the public.

REGISTER (Coming Soon)

Registration is required and seating is on a first come, first served basis; however registering does not guarantee a seat. If seats are not occupied at the beginning of the program, they will be made available to others onsite.