• Charles E. Fleming, Architect
    Shantel Blakely

Archival Slides of Charles E. Fleming House, Town and Country, Missouri. Courtesy The Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis. Photo: Eric P. Mumford

The architect Charles E. Fleming (b. 1937) is the first African American to graduate in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Fleming dreamt of being an architect and gained extensive knowledge of materials and construction while assisting an interior designer grandfather and carpenter uncle. All were members of a Black community that was compelled to operate in virtual autonomy under a Jim Crow-type social code of violence-enforced racial segregation and economic disparity in St. Louis. Fleming's graduation in 1960 coincided with an expansion of St. Louis's Black middle class, and Fleming would build scores of projects in the area, moving in and out of partnerships and occasionally freelancing for HOK and Skidmore, Owings & Merril (SOM). Chicago-based Lee Bey is commissioned to photograph Fleming’s work for this project.

Shantel Blakely is an architectural historian with additional experience in architecture (practice) and philosophy. Current projects include essays on aesthetics and monographic studies of the Italian postwar architect Marco Zanuso and the American architect Charles E. Fleming. Blakely's essays and translations have appeared in Domus, AA Files, Avery Review, and PLOT. A faculty member at Rice University (as of 2023), previously assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, she was briefly public programs manager at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she organized numerous lectures and conferences. She holds a doctorate in the history and theory of architecture from Columbia University, a master’s in architecture from Princeton, and a master’s in philosophy from Tufts.