BWA Brunch 2017

29Jul17

The next Black Women in Architecture Brunch will be held Sunday, September 17 at 11am.

Purchase tickets here.

You can also support the event and these women by becoming a sponsor. Download info here. Contribute through PayPal.

Read about previous BWA events: 2015 | 2016


vortex-xvi-archexeast_groupSince 2007, Riding the Vortex has been presented as panel of Black women in architecture, talking about their experience in the industry and offering a place for other people to share their stories. We presented twice in the Fall of 2016.

I moderated the Riding the Vortex XVI panel at Arch Exchange East in Richmond, Virginia
which included the following participants, pictured left to right:
Mia Gilliam, Assoc AIA, Wiley Wilson Architects
Nea Maloo, AIA LEED AP, Principal, Showcase Architects
Kathy Dixon, NOMA, AIA, Principal, K. Dixon Architecture, PLLC
Kathryn Prigmore, FAIA, NCARB, NOMA, LEED AP

I asked Mia, the newest to the panel member, and coincidentally, a childhood friend, to write about her experience.

vortex-xvi-archexeast_miaRiding the Vortex – Examining Your Place in the Profession
by Mia Gilliam

I had the privilege recently to speak on a panel with four other amazing ladies at the Architecture Exchange conference. I honestly had no idea what I was getting in to. I did a little research on the other speakers before the conference. I was amazed each woman’s accomplishments over their careers. I was not quite sure what I had to offer.

Continue reading ‘Riding the Vortex XVI, Richmond VA’


Since 2007, Riding the Vortex has been presented as panel of women in architecture, usually Black women, talking about their experience in the industry and offering a place for other people to share their stories. We presented twice in the Fall of 2016. The following is a summary of Riding the Vortex XV at the NOMA national conference in LA.

creativeness_event_20161013_538830The NOMA conference is usually a highlight of my year. I have the chance to connect with fellow architects and designers from around the country in, what many feel is, a family reunion environment. We work really hard at what we do and this is our opportunity to celebrate, show our work, encourage the next generation, and hopefully relax and explore a great host location.

creativeness_event_20161013_538730This year marked the fifteenth time that a cohort of women presented Riding the Vortex, a session about African-American women in architecture. Kathy Dixon and I led the organizing for this years session. In the past, the session has been strictly about sharing our stories, with a short time for audience participation through Q&A. This year we shortened the presentation portion and added a small group discussion segment to the session. To a standing-room-only crowd, Kathy started with a short overview of the history and statistics of African-American women in architecture.
Continue reading ‘Riding the Vortex XV, NOMA Los Angeles’


Since 2007, Riding the Vortex has been presented as panel of women in architecture, usually Black women, talking about their experience in the industry and offering a place for other people to share their stories. We presented twice in the Fall of 2016. The following is a summary of Riding the Vortex XV at the NOMA national conference in LA.

creativeness_event_20161013_538830The NOMA conference is usually a highlight of my year. I have the chance to connect with fellow architects and designers from around the country in, what many feel is, a family reunion environment. We work really hard at what we do and this is our opportunity to celebrate, show our work, encourage the next generation, and hopefully relax and explore a great host location.

creativeness_event_20161013_538730This year marked the fifteenth time that a cohort of women presented Riding the Vortex, a session about African-American women in architecture. Kathy Dixon and I led the organizing for this years session. In the past, the session has been strictly about sharing our stories, with a short time for audience participation through Q&A. This year we shortened the presentation portion and added a small group discussion segment to the session. To a standing-room-only crowd, Kathy started with a short overview of the history and statistics of African-American women in architecture.
Continue reading ‘Riding the Vortex XV, NOMA Los Angeles’


For this year’s review of the number of African-American architects, I asked Dennis Mann, one of Administrators of the Directory of African American Architects to write about the trends he is seeing.

In the last two years, the Directory of African American Architects listed 119 newly licensed architects. That may not sound significant. However, this is double the 2013-14 total of 67 newly licensed. More importantly, what was unique about that number is that 51 of those listed were women. That amounts to 43%.

When I retired from teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2009, it was normal to find that 50% of architecture students were women. I believe that is rather typical today.1 Moreover at UC, more often than not the top students in their class was a woman.

Continue reading ‘AA architects: the numbers 2016’


img_20161113_085513268Last month on a chilly Sunday, I drove roundtrip from Virginia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My daughter questioned why I was doing this. I did not have a short explanation, but I felt this was something I had to do.

Last year, a colleague, a fellow Black woman architect was killed in what is assumed to be a domestic dispute. I didn’t know Desiree Cooper well. We met through mutual architecture friends and talked several times when we were at events. Her death was felt throughout the local architecture community, from our professional organizations, AIA and NOMA, to her firm coworkers at Little Architects.

Continue reading ‘Harrisburg Marathon’


In the last year, I have organized two events for Black Women in Architecture in the DC area. This idea of gathering, sharing our stories, and supporting each other. The idea is being replicated by other women around the US. Below is a post about the Atlanta event held in October.

NOMAtlanta’s Women In Architecture Brunch

atl-bwa-table-setting By Stephanie R. Harris, Architect
October 31, 2016

NOMAtlanta’s Board Secretary Stephanie R. Harris (myself) hosted the first women’s brunch at Macgregor Associates Architects in Atlanta, with featured presenters Zena Howard and Devanne Pena.

The inspiration for the brunch came sometime ago when I met several of the Atlanta minority female architects at a going-away party. I was completely shocked that I had never met any of them prior and was amazed that there were 5 of us there at the table. Long after the party was over we were still chatting and decide we should do this again! Thus we have the brunch!
The event drew guest architects, interior designers and emerging professionals throughout the Atlanta area, in which they were able to networking and learn about optimizing their career growth.
Continue reading ‘Atlanta women gather for BWA Brunch’


Since 2010, I have been tracking the number of licensed African-American architects to understand how this group is faring along their professional paths. My analysis is based on the numbers that are reported by the Directory of African American Architects.**

Last year was a banner year with 66 AA architects reporting that they received their initial license. CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who achieved this great accomplishment! This is a three-fold increase from 2014. The last time the count was in the 60s was in 2009.

Continue reading ‘AA architects: the numbers 2015’


IMG_0183After I organized a successful brunch event for Black women in architecture in the fall of 2015, many women expressed interest in having another event. Thus the second Black Women in Architecture Brunch was held in DC in April.

IMG_2001
Gensler Architects offered their lovely space which included a conference room and kitchen area. Attendees were able to tour the firm office.

Women ate delicious food, enjoyed great wine and most of all networked with other black women.

After a delicious meal, the women used their design skills to paint a wine glass while they were chatting with each other.

IMG_0268_crop_BWA_GroupOnStairOverall, there was lots of chatting, fun and laughter. It was great to see forty women enjoying themselves and getting to meet other women in the profession.

Sommelier: The Tipsy Sommelier
Food: Ms. Girlee’s Restaurant
Photos: Keeewii Photography

Read about our previous event here.


BWA Brunch pt3

14Mar16

20151107_103313.jpgLast summer, I got this crazy idea that I could gather a room full of black women architects to network and just meet each other. The idea was cemented in my mind after a conversation with a local colleague.

I started out with a list of 25 women. I asked them to send me names and emails to add the list. By the day of the actual event, I had sent emails to over 65 women. I had forty attendees including a couple of New Yorkers who came down to attend. I was amazed, and a felt a little like I was watching a giant snow ball roll down a hill building momentum.

Continue reading ‘BWA Brunch pt3’