The National Building Museum will bring leading Black voices in design, art, and architecture to the Museum for INTERSECTIONS: Where Diversity, Equity and Design Meet, dynamic discussions about culture, equity and representation in the built world through the lens of design. The programming is a part of the Museum’s ongoing signature series, Equity in the Built Environment, which focuses on the relationship between equity, social justice and our built environment.

A carte-de-viste showing a younger Harriet, just after her work during the Civil War. Benjamin F. Powelson, Auburn NY. Public Domain.

Launching September 16 and running through December 14, INTERSECTIONS includes a robust program series of nationally recognized Black architects, designers and artists. They will engage program participants in conversations centered on actions to promote social justice in the built environment. These participatory experiences are designed to provoke new thinking, spark conversation, enlighten and empower. The season will also include three workshops and a roundtable discussion.

“Equity is an institutional Pillar of the Museum. We believe that design and construction are powerful tools that connect people to opportunity and empower communities to thrive,” said Aileen Fuchs, President & Executive Director. “INTERSECTIONS provides a forum for engagement–great speakers, facilitated conversations and fun social experiences that motivate participants to become informed community advocates in the D.C. metro region and beyond.”

This installation is born from Chicago’s rich history of annual block parties that provide necessary resources to vulnerable and engaged residents, particularly on the South and West Sides. These gatherings are self-funded, self-organized, and self-policed. They are an example of the many acts of civic responsibility that occur routinely in disenfranchised neighborhoods when residents take matters into their own hands. Credit: MAW Photography

Added Jacquelyn Sawyer, Vice President of Education and Engagement for the National Building Museum, “We are thrilled to give a platform to these influential Black voices who speak to the role of culture and identity in design and the built environment and are underrepresented within the industry.” 

The schedule for the fall INTERSECTIONS series is as follows:
 
INTERSECTIONS programs
 
Tuesday, September 16, 5:30-8:30 PM (in-person)
Demar Matthews…at the Intersection of Identity and Community
 
Demar Matthews, founder of OffTop Design, will open the season with a presentation that addresses how architecture amplifies or silences perspectives and narratives and question if and how buildings, streets and landscapes serve to affirm identity and define community. Matthews’ practice investigates the power of architecture as a cultural signifier and vehicle of traditions, values and identity. The inaugural program will include local food trucks Sizzler and Little Minor Taco at the Museum’s G Street entrance, drinks, and music by Les The DJ in the Great Hall.
$15 Museum Member | $10 Student | $25 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA), 1.5 PDH (LA CES/ASLA).
Register here.
 
Tuesday, September 20, 6:30-8 PM (in-person and virtual)
Harriet Tubman…at the Intersection of Legacy and Landscape
 
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birth, this program, presented as part of the Darwina L. Neal Cultural Landscape Fund for programs focused on cultural landscapes, explores how the preservation and interpretation of landscapes strengthens our understanding of our shared history. The story of Harriet Tubman’s journey from an enslaved person, to a fearless leader of emancipation, to a giant of American history is one of the most dynamic examples of the power of individuals to affect the American cultural narrative. Speakers include Jessica Bowes, Cultural Resource Specialist for Women’s Rights and Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks in New York, Chris Elcock, Associate Principal at GWWO Architects, and Deanna Mitchell, Superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Maryland. The program is moderated by Kaye Wise-Whitehead, Associate Professor of Communication, African and African American Studies at Loyola University, Maryland. Insights into the factors that shaped Tubman’s life will amplify and preserve her legacy. The program will be followed by a reception.
$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 PDH (LA CES/ASLA) and has been submitted to AIA for continuing education review.
Register here.
 
Thursday, September 23, 6:30-8 PM (in-person)
Mabel Wilson…at the Intersection of Representation and Tradition
 
Mabel O. Wilson, the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, returns to the National Building Museum to join Glenn LaRue Smith, Co-Founder and Design Director PUSH Studio in conversation. Professor Wilson will discuss her work on the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia and the ability of architecture to challenge tradition and redefine our perception of history to include the voices of the silenced and the experiences of the powerless. A reception to follow the presentation.
$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA), 1.5 PDH (LA CES/ASLA).
Register here
 
For her series Color(ed) Theory, Amanda Williams repainted and photographed eight vacated and condemned houses in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, drawing attention to the issue of underinvestment in African American communities around the city. The artist painted the buildings in a palette of colors found in products and services marketed primarily toward Black people that she felt represented Black consumer culture: Harold’s Chicken Shack, Newport 100s, Crown Royal Bag, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Ultrasheen, Pink Oil Moisturizer, Currency Exchange, and Safe Passage. Credit: Amanda Williams.
 
Friday, October 21, 6:30-8:30 PM (in-person)
Amanda Williams…at the Intersection of Art, Architecture and Social Commentary
 
Visual artist Amanda Williams, Founder aw | studio, blurs the lines between art, architecture and social commentary with her investigations of topics such as prejudice, gun violence, and shared cultural experience. This exploration of William’s unique artistic perspective on color, race, and space will demonstrate how design can catalyze conversations about privilege, gentrification, and perceptions of communities of color.
$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
Register here
 
Thursday, November 10, 6-10 PM (in-person)
Germane Barnes…at the Intersection of Storytelling, Architecture and Cultural Narrative
 
Germane Barnes, Principal and Founder, Studio Barnes, is a multi-disciplinary designer who uses film, exhibitions, large scale installations and furniture to investigate the connection between architecture and identity. Barnes challenges interpretations of what defines and shapes cultural narrative by telling stories that explore the ways Black people have defined themselves and their communities. The evening includes a screening of his award-winning short film You Can Always Come Home and includes live music, drinks and light bites.
$20 Museum Member | $15 Student | $35 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA) and has been submitted to ASLA for continuing education review.
Register here.
 
Wednesday, December 14, 6-8 PM (in-person)
Cory Henry…at the Intersection of Design, Development and Community
 
Cory Henry, Principal and Founder of Atelier Cory Henry closes out the INTERSECTIONS series with the question of whether design should reflect culture, history and community concerns. His portfolio of work spans three continents and ranges from private homes to mobile personal care centers for the houseless, and highlights Henry’s commitment to community-centered design. Henry challenges traditional partnership dynamics and reframes perceptions about who design truly serves.
$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program has been submitted to AIA and ASLA for continuing education review.
Register here.
To complement the speaker series, the National Building Museum is partnering with BlackSpace Urbanist Collective on three workshops designed to provoke further thought and action on the topic of equity in the built environment. The workshops will provide participants with a forum for deep discussion and collaboration about the importance of cultural presence between multiracial urbanist audiences.
Demar Matthews studied the geometric patterns of popular African American hairstyles such as box braids and curls and used these forms to create patterns and architectural motifs that could relate to the culture and create a black aesthetic. Additionally he was inspired by artist Earnie Barnes’ painting titled “Sugar Shack” and wanted to highlight the unique body language of black people. In the painting, the characters “have eccentric and fluid motions about them that make their movements seem elastic.” Credit: OffTOP Design.

INTERSECTIONS Workshops

Thursday, September 8, 6:30-8 PM (virtual)
and Tuesday, October 18, 6:30-8 PM (virtual)
BlackSpace…at the Intersection of Diversity, Agency and Design
These two virtual workshops introduce the importance of culturally relevant and affirming design principles and how these can be used as a tool to create and preserve inclusive spaces.
$15 Museum Member | $10 Student | $20 Non-member
Register here for September and here for October
Saturday, November 19, 2-5 PM (in-person)
BlackSpace…at the Intersection of Diversity, Agency and Design
 
The final workshop will help participants reconceptualize the design of an existing interior space using principles of inclusive and culturally affirming design. A reception will follow, providing additional opportunity to network with BlackSpace Collective facilitators.
No design experience needed! Open to all professionals, students, and the design curious.
$35 Museum Member | $20 Student | $50 Non-member
Register here.
 
INTERSECTIONS Roundtable Discussion
 
Tuesday, November 29, 6:30-8 PM (in-person)
Large Firm Roundtable…at the Intersection of Equity, Advocacy and Industry
 
In 2020, the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) task force of the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) began their work on the responsibility of architectural leaders in increasing diversity and fostering equity within their field. The LFRT, representing 70 of AIA’s largest firms, will discuss their work at this roundtable led by Jonathan Moody, CEO of Moody Nolan and co-chair of the JEDI task force. A panel of Moody’s fellow committee members, moderated by Marnique Heath, Principal and Board Chair, STUDIOS Architecture, will discuss how a profession can inspire meaningful change within itself. A reception to follow the discussion.
$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA) and has been submitted to ASLA for continuing education review.
Register here

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