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Sun, 04.15.1928

Norma Sklarek, Architect born

Norma Sklarek(photo B. Lanker)

Norma Merrick Sklarek was born on this date in 1928.  She was a Black architect and businesswoman.

From New York City she graduated from Barnard College (part of Columbia University) with a degree in architecture in 1950.  Sklarek became the first Black woman to be licensed as an architect in the United States with certification in New York State in 1954 and in California in 1962.  She was the first Black woman director of architecture at Gruen and Associates in Los Angeles.  In 1966, she was the first woman to be elected Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Some twenty years later, in 1985, she became the first Black woman architect to form her own architectural firm: Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond. At the time, this was the largest woman-owned and mostly woman-staffed architectural firm. Among Sklarek's designs are the City Hall in San Bernardino, California, the Fox Plaza in San Francisco, Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. From 1989 to 1992, Sklarek was a principal at The Jerde Partnership.

There she was in charge of project management and review of the functional and technological aspects of projects. Norma Sklarek is now semi-retired serving as Chair of the AIA National Ethics Council. She conducts classes for the architectural building design and site licensing exams, and is a guest lecturer. Norma Merrick Sklarek died in 2012, in her honor, Howard University offers the Norma Merrick Sklarek Architectural Scholarship Award.

I Dream A World: Portraits of Black women Who Changed America
Edited by Barbara Summers
Photos and Interviews by Brian lanker
Copyright 1989, workman Publishing
ISBN 1-555670-063-6

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