Norma Merrick Sklarek (1928-2012)
Norma Sklarek was born in Harlem, New York. She graduated from Columbia University School of Architecture in 1950. Sklarek was the first African American woman to be licensed as an architect in New York and California, in 1954 and 1962 respectively.
After receiving her degree, Sklarek was unable to find work at an architecture firm, and took a job at the New York Department of Public Works. She then got a job at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. She became the first African American director at the Gruen and Associates in Los Angeles, California in 1966, and she worked with the Jon Jerde Partnership.
She became the first African American woman member of the AIA in 1959, the first African American woman to be elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 1980, and the first woman to receive the AIA Whitney Young Award in 2008. In 1985, she became the first African American woman architect to form her own architectural firm – Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond, the largest woman owned architectural firm in the United States at the time. Among Sklarek’s designs are the San Bernardino City Hall in San Bernardino, California, the Fox Plaza in San Francisco, the Los Angeles International Airport Terminal One, and the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, Japan.
Among Sklarek’s designs are the San Bernardino City Hall in San Bernardino California, the Fox Plaza in San Francisco, Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport and the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, Japan.
Following her retirement, she served on the California Architects Board. She also served for several years as Chair of the AIA National Ethics Council. In her honor, Howard University offers the Norma Merrick Sklarek Architectural Scholarship Award.
Fox, Austin M. Louise Blanchard Bethune: Buffalo Feminist and America’s First Women Architect. Accessed 12 Dec. 2013 <http://www.buffaloah.com/a/archs/beth/bw/bw.html>