• SAY IT LOUD—The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 50th Anniversary Exhibition
    Pascale Sablan
    Detroit Historical Society, Detroit
    Oct 21, 2021
    National Organization of Minority Architects

Early meeting of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) founders, American Institute of Architects (AIA) conference in Detroit, 1971. Courtesy NOMA

Founded in 1971 by 12 African American architects in Detroit, the influence of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) has grown over the past 50 years as the voice of minority architects. NOMA has much to celebrate, from the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, installed through the National Park Service in Washington, DC, to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. However, there is still opportunity for growth, as the African American architecture licensure rate has hovered at two percent for decades. A 50th anniversary exhibition of NOMA’s work allows for reflection on the past and planning for the future. This project includes engagement across the country through online exhibition activation, panels hosted by NOMA and American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapters, and a media campaign.

Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, and LEED AP, is the Vice President/President Elect of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). She is an associate at Adjaye Associates. Sablan is the 315th living African American woman registered architect in the United States. She is an activist architect who works to advance architecture for the betterment of society, bring visibility and voice to the issues concerning women and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) designers. She founded Beyond the Built Environment, an organization positioned to uniquely address the inequitable disparities in architecture. She was awarded the 2021 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for her advocacy efforts and ascended to the AIA College of Fellows, as the youngest African American to reach that honor. Sablan has lectured at colleges and universities nationally, and at cultural institutions such as the United Nations and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, NOMA, LEED AP, is the 2021–22 President of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). He is a senior associate architect and urban designer at Gensler's Chicago office. Pugh is a licensed architect and certified planner. He manages a variety of projects which engage the extended community and end-users, following projects from schematic community-based master plans through full construction. Pugh has a passion for helping develop underserved communities and the next generation of designers and architects. He previously served as the president of the Illinois NOMA chapter, and also served on Chicago’s Associate Board of the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program. Pugh has a bachelor of arts from Howard University, one of seven historically Black colleges and universities with an architecture accreditation, and a master’s degree in architecture and urban design from Columbia University.

Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, is the Executive Director of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Brown is a cofounder of the Urban Arts Collective, a nonprofit focused on increasing underrepresented groups in careers in science, technology, engineering, art and architecture, and mathematics. Brown is a passionate leader within NOMA and the architecture industry, recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with 2020 Associates Awards for outstanding leadership and creative thinking in her communities and the architecture profession. She was awarded the AIA Detroit and Michigan honors in 2019. Brown held national NOMA board leadership positions and is also a founding member of NOMA Detroit. She created 400 FORWARD, which aims to seek the next 400 women architects with an underlying focus on African American girls through access to education on design through provided programming and scholarships. Her work with the organization was recently featured in a new documentary in partnership with Target, “Design for All.” Previously, she worked at SmithGroup and Hamilton Anderson Associates in Detroit. Brown earned her bachelor’s and master’s in architecture, in addition to her MBA from Lawrence Technological University.

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) was formed to represent the needs of African American architects. Founded in 1971 at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) conference in Detroit, six years after the passing of the US Voting Rights Act of 1965 which granted all citizens unrestricted voting rights, the purpose of NOMA is to bolster and provide support for Black and minority licensed architects throughout the country. Today, NOMA is a haven for architects of all origins who seek inclusion in the design industry. We continue to advocate for the licensure of African American architects, as well as individuals from other underrepresented backgrounds. NOMA is extremely optimistic about the profession’s future due to the growing number of emerging student leaders involved in the organization. There are more than 80 chapters of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) across the US and Canada.