Charles F. McAfee, FAIA
Social activism, affordable housing
With a career dedicated to eliminating discrimination against all citizens, Charles F. McAfee, FAIA, received the 1999 Whitney Young Award with a nomination citing the architect’s body of work as a model for social action.
“I’ve lived a life with a very honest approach, molded by the patterns of my childhood and young adult life,” McAfee explained in 1999. “All of these patterns involved discrimination and segregation, which have in many ways resulted in my compassion for people as I design buildings and help others to design their own career paths."
After graduating with an undergraduate architecture degree from the University of Nebraska, McAfee passed up promising job offers on both the East and West Coasts to open a practice in his native Wichita. He became the first African American architect registered in Kansas.
An advocate for using architecture to battle social inequalities, McAfee considered not only individual buildings, but also the design of entire neighborhoods. He devised a unique modular approach to affordable housing and opened a manufacturing plant that hires and trains people from within the community to make building components. McAfee’s firm expanded to Atlanta and Dallas, with ownership passing to his daughters, both prominent architects themselves, in 2006