Guardian: “A Welcome Rebuke to Dead White Men”
From The Guardian:
A century in the making, and now completed by Britain’s David Adjaye, the Smithsonian’s gleeful, gleaming upturned pagoda more than holds its own against the sombre Goliaths of America’s monument heartland
Friday 16 September 2016 02.14 EDT
Standing assertively in the middle of a 15-acre lawn, between the sharp white obelisk of the Washington Monument and the colossal stone shed of the National Museum of American History, the latest arrival to this hallowed parade ground certainly holds its own. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture erupts from the ground, an inverted pagoda of three angular bronzed tiers on an all-glass base, departing from its neighbours’ sombre palette of limestone and concrete with joyous glee.
“It was tough to convince the planners,” says David Adjaye, the British-Ghanaian lead designer of the museum, who is, shamefully, about the only black architect of international prominence.
Interestingly, one of the top architects in Los Angeles from 1920-1973 was a black guy named Paul Revere Williams, who designed 2,000 homes, many in the Hollywood Hills. He’s not well-known in traditional histories of architecture because he wasn’t that obsessed with imposing his stylistic ideas on his clients, who tended to be creative individuals themselves. He did homes for a lot of celebrities like Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck, Tyrone Power, and Danny Thomas. He was co-architect for the 1961 Jetsons’ Googie style “Theme Building” at LAX, but mostly he worked with his clients to create something they’d be happy with. From Wikipedia:
Williams was posthumously honored in 2008 with the Donald J. Trump Award for his significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of real estate throughout Greater Los Angeles. The award was accepted by his granddaughter, Karen Hudson. Donald Trump presented the award to Hudson via video presentation.
So why in 2016 isn’t there a black American architect as good as Paul Williams was in 1950?
Back to The Guardian:
Despite some clunks, the result has a compelling, spiky otherness, standing on the Mall as a welcome rebuke to the world of white marble monuments to dead white men.
The great thing about the Obama Era has been all the racial healing.