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NORMA MERRICK SKLAREK (1926 – 2012)

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Norma Merrick Sklarek, was the first African American woman (her parents were from Trinidad) to be licensed as an architect in New York and California, in 1954. This achievement cannot be understated, as there were no female role models to follow, in a era when the vast majority of licensed architects were men. It was a time of racial discrimination and racial tension. In 1959 she became a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), becoming the first woman to be elected as a Fellow of the AIA, in 1980. She was instrumental in the establishment of Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond of California, a company she also managed (a company owned by three women, which was ground breaking, given the male domination or architecture at the time).  
 
 
 

She had several noted architectural achievements and collaborations with other architects, including the United States Embassy in Tokyo (1976) and the Terminal One station (Los Angeles International Airport - 1984). She collaborated in the design of San Bernardino City Hall (California), the Pacific Design Centre, Fox Plaza (San Francisco), Commons - Courthouse Centre (Columbus), the Leo Baeck Temple (Los Angeles) and the Mall of America (Minneapolis). Her role in the development of the American Shopping Mall, cannot be understated.

Norma has been called "The Rosa Parks of Architecture”, named after an African-American activist in the civil rights movement, the ‘First Lady of Civil Rights’. Norma ‘blazed a trail’ for other African American women, in the field of architecture and has become a role model.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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