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Beverly L. Greene and Norma Merrick Sklarek

Fri, Jan 15, 2021    1pm

Beverly L. Greene and Norma Merrick Sklarek:
New Research in Black Women’s History in Architecture

Patricia Morton (‘83 M.Arch), Associate Professor, Art History Department at the University of California, Riverside and Roberta Washington ('71 M.Arch) FAIA, NOMAC, Founder, Roberta Washington Architects who profiled Greene and Sklarek for the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s web resource Pioneering Women of American Architecture, were joined in conversation Pioneering Women editors Professor Mary McLeod, and Victoria Rosner, Dean of Academic Affairs, General Studies at Columbia University.

Beverly L. Greene ('45 M.Arch, 1915-57) was the first African American women architect licensed to practice in the United States; Norma Merrick Sklarek ( '50 B.Arch, 1926-2012) was the first African American woman to be made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Both graduates of Columbia’s University’s architecture program, they went on to have distinguished careers working in prominent architectural firms— in the case of Sklarek, she co-founded the largest women-owned firm at the time. This panel explored Greene and Sklarek’s significant contributions to the architecture profession, made at a time when the profession was almost exclusively white and male.

This event coincides with the launch a new full-tuition scholarship at GSAPP, The Norma Merrick Sklarek Scholars Fund, created to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity at the school.


Mary McLeod is a Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP, where she teaches architecture history and theory. McLeod is co-editor of Architecture, Criticism, Ideology and Architecture Reproduction, and is the editor of and contributor to the book Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living (Abrams, 2003). She also initiated and helped curate the exhibition Charlotte Perriand: Interior Equipment, held at the Urban Center in New York. Her articles have appeared in Assemblage, Oppositions, Art Journal, AA Files, JSAH, Casabella, Art Journal, Harvard Design Magazine and Lotus as well as other journals and anthologies, McLeod is also editor of the web-based archive Pioneering Women of American Architecture (with Victoria Rosner).

Patricia A. Morton teaches in the Media and Cultural Studies Department, University of California, Riverside. She is author of Hybrid Modernities: Architecture and Representation at the 1931 International Colonial Exposition in Paris (MIT Press; Japanese edition, Brücke). She has lectured and published widely on architectural history and race, gender and identity, including an essay, “Decolonizing the ACHAC Collection,” in Visualizing Empire: Africa, France, and the Politics of Representation edited by Dominic Thomas, Steven Nelson and Rebecca Peabody (Getty Publications, 2020). Her current project, Paying for the Public Life, focuses on Charles W. Moore and the formation of 1960s publics and counter-publics.

Victoria Rosner is Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia University School of General Studies and teaches in the Columbia University Department of English and Comparative Literature. In addition to Machines for Living (Oxford University Press, 2020), she is the author of Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life (Columbia University Press, 2005), winner of the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize. Rosner is also editor of the web-based archive Pioneering Women of American Architecture (with Mary McLeod) and two books, The Cambridge Companion to the Bloomsbury Group (Cambridge UP, 2014) and The Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time (Columbia UP, 2012; with Geraldine Pratt). With Nancy K. Miller, she edits the long-running Gender and Culture book series for Columbia University Press. She is also the founder and co-director, since 2018, of the Center for the Study of Social Difference Columbia faculty working group, “On the Frontlines: Nursing Leadership in Pandemics.”

Roberta Washington is principal of Roberta Washington Architects, PC, she responsible for the design of new and rehabilitated housing, educational, medical and preservation projects. Since 2001, she has researched, written and lectured about the history of African American women in architecture. Her biographies appear in the Biographical Dictionary of African-American Architects, 1865-1945 and Henry Louis Gate’s African American National Biography (online). Washington is a fellow of the AIA, a past President of the National Organization of Minority Architects and a past Commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.