NORMA M. SKLAREK
African American AIA Fellow
SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC Exhibitor
California Based Designer
In 1980, Sklarek broke through another barrier when she was honored with a fellowship by the American Institute of Architects, becoming the first black woman to receive the honor.
NORMA M. SKLAREK
Norma Merrick Sklarek, hailed as the "Rosa Parks of Architecture," changed the face of her industry when, in 1954, she became the first African-American woman to become a licensed architect. After a year at Barnard College she enrolled at Columbia University's School of Architecture. After graduation and several attempts to land work with a private firm, Sklarek took a civil service job with the Department of Works for New York City. Her career took her to Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, where she stayed there four years, before packing up again, this time for the west coast at Gruen Associates in Los Angeles, and was named the firm's director in 1966. In that position, and later as vice president of the Welton Becket firm, she left her mark on several important projects including the American Embassy in Tokyo, the behemoth 2.5 million square foot fashion center known as California Mart, the Fox Plaza in San Francisco and Terminal One at Los Angeles International Airport. In 1980, Sklarek broke through another barrier when she was honored with a fellowship by the American Institute of Architects, becoming the first black woman to receive the honor. Sklarek made history yet again in 1985, when she teamed up with fellow architects Margot Siegal and Katherine Diamond to form one of the largest female-owned architectural firms in the country—Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond—becoming the first African-American woman to establish and manage an architectural firm.
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Featured Project Name:
United States Embassy
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The current U.S. Embassy building in Tokyo was completed in August, 1976, and opened on September 6. The building was designed by César Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek of Gruen Associates and constructed by Obayashi Corporation. Gruen Associates was responsible for the 45,000 sq. ft. Embassy building as well as a three-story wing. The project was completed for the US Department of State’s Office of Foreign Buildings Operations.