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10 notable Chicago projects designed by black architects

First Church of Deliverance

From parks to museums and schools

As an architect and urban planner, Wendell Campbell believed that people don’t buy homes, they buy communities. That philosophy showed up in Campbell’s work in Chicago and other cities, as he designed plans for urban renewal projects, affordable housing and more.

However, when Campbell began his career in ’50s he faced racial discrimination and other barriers preventing him from breaking into the industry.

Joining the American Institute of Architects was even problematic for Campbell. At the time he didn’t know anyone in the organization, but he needed two recommendations for his application. At AIA’s national convention in New York City, no one initially would sit at his table.

That experience left a mark on Campbell, who became one of the 12 black founders of the National Organization of Minority Architects and the organization’s first president.

Black architects are underrepresented, but in recent years organizations such as NOMA have prioritized spotlighting their great work. In that spirit, we’ve gathered a list that highlights some of Chicago’s projects by black architects.

If we’ve missed a noteworthy project, let us know in the comments or by email.

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