Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2012
Today prompted us to take a look at some of the prominent African American Citizens that have made contributions to the field of Architecture and Interior Design. One of the more prominent was Paul Williams.
Born in 1894, Paul practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous stars including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz,Lon Chaney, and Charles Correll. He also designed many public and private buildings.
Orphaned at the age of four, Williams was the only African American student in his elementary school. He studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design Atelier, subsequently working as a landscape architect. He went on to attend the University of Southern California, School of Engineering, designing several residential buildings while still a student there. Williams became a certified architect in 1921, and the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi.
Williams won an architectural competition at age 25 and three years later opened his own office. Known as an outstanding draftsman, he perfected the skill of rendering drawings "upside down." This skill was developed so that his clients (who may have been uncomfortable sitting next to a black architect) could see the drawings rendered right side up across the table from him. Struggling to gain attention, he served on the first Los Angeles City Planning Commission in 1920. From 1921 through 1924 Williams worked for Los Angeles architect John C. Austin, eventually becoming chief draftsman, before establishing his own office. Williams became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. In 1939, he won the AIA Award of Merit for his design of the MCA Building in Los Angeles (now headquarters of the Paradigm Talent Agency).
Some of his famous work:
Paul Passed away in 1980 and is remembered for this quotation…
"If I allow the fact that I am a Negro to checkmate my will to do, now, I will inevitably form the habit of being defeated."
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WHL Design Group is an Interior Design firm in Las Vegas, NV