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RTKL Associates
African American AIA Fellow

SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC  Exhibitor
Maryland Based Designer 


Ryder was a major force in ensuring our students were served in the best possible ways — academically, professionally, and personally and was an able and responsive design studio leader as well as a deeply knowledgeable teacher of building technology and professional practice.



Bowden was born in the small town of Great Falls, S.C. and moved with his family at the age of 3 to Charleston, where his parents were teachers. He soaked up the well-mannered buildings and public spaces of historic Charleston and worked for his uncle's construction company. At 18, seeking a career in architecture, he enrolled at Howard University to get his undergraduate degree. Two of the principals, Bowden says, suggested early on that he might be a good fit for RTKL's planning studio, working with inner-city communities. Bowden is one the very few African-Americans inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. As the highest ranking African-American at RTKL, Bowden has been a mentor to young employees of all races and nationalities. Approaching retirement, Bowden saw the African-American museum commission as a good chance to wind up his career with a high-profile project that would make a lasting contribution to his adopted hometown.


Year of Elevation: 


Featured Project Name: 

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture

Featured Project Location: 

Baltimore, MD

Featured Project Completion Date: 


Role in Featured Project: 

Partner, Lead Architect

Featured Project Description:

The museum represents the character, pride, struggle, and accomplishments of African Americans, and was the second largest African American museum in the U.S. at the time of construction. The building won several awards from local and state AIA chapters. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute and along with permanent exhibits, includes space for special exhibits, an oral history and recording studio, a 200-seat auditorium, and a classroom and resource center.

Photography Credit:

Anna Marich, The Freelon Group

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