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Harvard announces Phil Freelon architecture and design fellowship for students of color

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The new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (center) opened to the public in September.
Photo by Alan Karchmer

Like many industries, architecture has a diversity problem, so any effort to change that is something to celebrate. And this week, there is one. Yesterday, the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), along with Perkins + Will and architect Phil Freelon, announced the Philip Freelon Fellowship, which will support African American and other students of color in pursuing advanced degrees at the GSD.

“As the design profession continues to attract a more diverse talent base, this gift will provide students of color with financial assistance that could make pursuing an advanced degree at the GSD possible,” Freelon said at the announcement. “It’s an important step in broadening the GSD’s reach.”

Freelon, who’s the director of Perkins + Will’s North Carolina practice and a President Obama-appointed member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, recently led the design team for the long-anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C.

On a recent of episode of our podcast, the Curbed Appeal, Freelon had this to say about the NAAMHC project:

It's personal to me as an African-American to be able to contribute to this huge endeavor and to add value in that way, through the architectural work and coordinating with the exhibit designers. Yes, we've felt the weight of that every day, but at the same time, we were well-prepared.

Indeed, Freelon’s portfolio also includes the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and the Historic Emancipation Park in Houston. And he’ll be building on this legacy with the Motown Museum in Detroit and a Miami museum focused on the art of the African Diaspora, both under development.

Freelon (center) at the announcement at the GSD on November 3
Photo by Zara Tzanev