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Recommended Reading about African-American Architecture

2/5/2014, 3 p.m.

Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond

By Selden Richardson, Maurice Duke

Richmond's vast and varied collection of architecture provides an archive of African-American history. Author Selden Richardson explains how iconic symbols of old Richmond and the generations of black laborers who helped assemble it are embodied in both the preserved and the forgotten architecture of the city.

Architecture in Black

By Darell Wayne Fields

Architecture in Black argues that architecture, as an aesthetic practice, and blackness, as a linguistic practice and function within the same semiotic paradigm. The book presents the first systematic analysis of the theoretical relationship between architecture and blackness. Employing a technique whereby texts are related through the repetition and revision of their semiotic structures, Architecture in Black reconstructs the genealogy of a black racial subject represented by the simultaneous reading of a range of canonical apparatus invented by this reading is then used to critique a discrete set of architectural texts, demonstrating the presence of the 'black vernacular' in contemporary architectural theory.

Structural Inequality: Black Architects in the United States

By Victoria Kaplan

Architecture is a challenging profession. The education is rigorous and the licensing process lengthy; the industry is volatile and compensation lags behind other professions. All architects make a huge investment to be able to practice, but additional obstacles are placed in the way of women and people of color. Structural Inequality relates this disparity through the stories of twenty black architects from around the United States and examines the sociological context of architectural practice. Through these experiences, research, and observation, Victoria Kaplan explores the role systemic racism plays in an occupation commonly referred to as the 'white gentlemen's profession.' Given the shifting demographics of the United States, Kaplan demonstrates that it is incumbent on the profession to act now to create a multicultural field of practitioners who mirror the changing client base. Structural Inequality provides the context to inform and facilitate the necessary conversation on increasing diversity in architecture.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington

By Ellen Weiss

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee interweaves the life of the first academically trained African-American architect with his life’s work -- the campus of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. In this richly illustrated architectural history, the author delves into such questions of how a black boy born in North Carolina shortly after the Civil War could earn a professional architecture degree at MIT, and how he then used his design and administrative skills to further Booker T. Washington’s agenda of community solidarity and, in defiance of strengthening Jim Crow, the public expression of racial pride and progress. The book also considers such issues as architectural education for African-Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, the white donors who funded Tuskegee’s buildings, other Tuskegee architects, and Taylor’s buildings elsewhere. Individual narratives of Taylor’s Tuskegee buildings conclude the volume.