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Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA


Los Angeles and New York


Public works, professional advocacy

The career of Norma Sklarek, FAIA, was marked by breaking barriers. She was the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia University with a B.Arch, and one of the first registered female African American architects in the nation. In 1980, she became the first African American woman elected into the AIA College of Fellows. Five years later, she headed the first architecture firm formed and managed by an African American woman—Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond.


In his letter of support, Jack Travis, FAIA, wrote, “Norma Merrick Sklarek’s whole professional life has been a series of pioneering efforts advancing not only her cause, but the cause for minority involvement in mainstream matters of the profession and of the AIA.”


After graduating from Columbia University and briefly working for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Sklarek relocated to Los Angeles to join Gruen Associates. During her 20-year tenure with Gruen, she completed the Fox Plaza in San Francisco, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and the Queens Fashion Mall in New York. From 1980 to 1985, she was a vice president at Welton Becket & Associates, designing Terminal One at Los Angeles International Airport. After heading Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond for four years, she became a principal with the Jerde Partnership, where she worked on the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

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