Planning and Building Department, City of Oakland
African American AIA Fellow
SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC Exhibitor
California Based Designer
The big stick he carries as head of a department with a staff of 220, of whom about one third are of color, is that he is responsible for the city’s urban design, land use, zoning, engineering services, building code, and right-of-way.
Director since 1993 of the Department of Planning, Engineering, and Permits for Birmingham, Bill Gilchrist can afford to speak softly. The big stick he carries as head of a department with a staff of 220, of whom about one third are of color, is that he is responsible for the city’s urban design, land use, zoning, engineering services, building code, and right-of-way. The AIA, the American Planning Association, and the National League of Cities have honored the work of his department. A master’s graduate of MIT’s schools of management and architecture, plus a degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Gilchrist’s educational focus has always been on public policy and the built environment. He was among the first Aga Khan traveling fellows, ending up documenting the Swahili architecture of coastal Kenya. He has chaired the committee that oversees the AIA Regional/Urban Design Assistance Teams. He’s a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is vice chairman of its executive committee. Gilchrist is on the departmental visiting committee of the MIT School of Architecture. He was recently appointed to the international advisory committee of Carnegie Mellon University’s Remaking Cities Institute. Gilchrist has been interviewed on National Public Radio, appeared on PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and speaks often on urbanism, regional planning, citizen participation in the public realm, and the history of urban settlement.
Object Four - Public service, government, industry, or organization
Year of Elevation:
Featured Project Name:
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Featured Project Location:
Featured Project Completion Date:
Role in Featured Project:
Planner / Designer
Featured Project Description:
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a large interpretive museum and research center in Birmingham, Alabama that depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The Institute is located in the Civil Rights District, which includes the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, Fourth Avenue Business District, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame located in the Carver Theater.