AIA & Diversity Timeline
The AIA & Diversity timeline represents the initiatives and advancements of AIA and its members throughout history to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession.
Timeline adapted from the original by Marga Rose Hancock, Hon. AIA. Images courtesy of AIA or the AIA Archives unless noted otherwise.
The AIA Values
We stand for equity and human rights.
We stand for architecture that strengthens our communities.
We stand for a sustainable future.
We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change.
We stand for economic opportunity.
We stand for investing in the future.
We speak up, and policymakers listen.
Buffalo architect Louise Blanchard Bethune, FAIA, becomes first woman to hold AIA membership.
Sophia Hayden becomes the first academically-trained woman architect in the United States, graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which opened the first school of architecture in the United States in 1865.
The American Institute of Architects is founded in New York City to “elevate the standing of the profession” and “promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members.”
1850s to 1960s
The slow march begins with giant steps
Following the death of Whitney M. Young Jr. in 1971, AIA creates an award in his honor to recognize architects and organizations engaged in relevant social issues.
Leaders at the AIA National Convention in San Francisco pass a resolution “to integrate women into all aspects of the profession as full participants.”
Robert T. Coles, FAIA, serves as first AIA Deputy VP for Minority Affairs. With Leon Bridges, FAIA, and Marshall Purnell, FAIA, he creates the AIA Commission on Community Services.
Arquitectos: The Society of Hispanic Professional Architects is established in Chicago.
AIA launches the Minority-Disadvantaged Scholarship (later, the Diversity Advancement Scholarship) to create a more diverse and relevant profession.
Robert J. Nash becomes the first African American architect elected to AIA national office.
Louis Weller, FAIA, becomes the first AIA member to identify as Native American.
1960s to 1980s
Waking up and forging a new, relevant profession
Addressing the AIA National Convention in Portland, Oregon, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. challenges the organization to stand for social responsibility.
Johnpaul Jones, FAIA, becomes the earliest member of the AIA College of Fellows to identify as Native American.
Robert T. Coles, FAIA, is elected as the first African American architect to serve as chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows.
The inaugural Diversity Conference is held in Washington, D.C. with the title, “Breaking the ICE: Building New Leadership.”
Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, becomes the first woman to receive the AIA Topaz Medallion, which recognizes outstanding individual contributions in architectural education.
Acknowledging the past and looking to the future
Meeting in Indiana, the new AIA Diversity Task Force develops the “New Harmony Accords,” advancing the premise that the “organization commands strength in proportion to its inclusiveness.”
Susan Maxman, FAIA, (left) is elected first woman AIA president, and L. Jane Hastings, FAIA, serves as first woman chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows.
Bradford C. Grant and Dennis Alan Mann publish the first edition of the Directory of African American Architects.
American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE) is founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Asian American Architects and Engineers Association (AAa/e) is founded in Southern California.
Los Angeles-based architect Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first African American woman elevated to the AIA College of Fellows.
Judith Edelman, FAIA—as head of the AIA Task Force on Women in Architecture—reports that only 1.2 percent of registered U.S. architects are women. At the time, only coal miners and steelworkers have a lower proportion.
Twelve prominent African American designers found the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) at the 1971 AIA Convention in Detroit.
Raj Barr-Kumar, FAIA, becomes the first elected architect of color to serve as AIA president.
2000s to 2010s
Self-reflection leads to action and progress
Louis L. Weller, FAIA, becomes the first Native American architect to receive the AIA Whitney Young Jr. Award.
Leers Weinzapfel Associates becomes the first women-founded architectural group to receive the AIA Firm Award.
Washington, D.C. architect Marshall Purnell, FAIA, serves as the first elected African American AIA president.
California architect Gordon Chong, FAIA, serves as first elected Asian American AIA president.
Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first woman to receive the Whitney Young Award.
The AIA Women's Leadership Summit (WLS) gathers for its inaugural national meeting in Chicago, bringing together women designers entering professional leadership roles.
Whitney Young Award honors Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, the first Native American woman registered as an architect (1995) and the first to win the AIA award.
Karen Braitmayer, FAIA, receives the Whitney Young Award for pushing the notion of accessible design beyond a simple compliance with laws and codes.
Pittsburgh architect William J. Bates, FAIA, serves at the second elected African American AIA President.
Paul R. Williams, FAIA, posthumously receives the AIA Gold Medal, becoming the first African American architect honored with the award.
California architect Julia Morgan, FAIA, posthumously becomes the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal.
AIA adopts the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Architect Barbie makes a controversial debut at the 2011 AIA National Convention in New Orleans. A related AIA contest to design Barbie’s “dream house” causes a similar stir.
AIA launches the Equity in Architecture Commission, which creates recommendations on fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion within the profession.
AIA forms the Equity and the Future of Architecture board committee, which releases the first installments of its "Guides for Equitable Practice" series.
Denice Johnson Hunt, AIA, serves as the nation’s first woman of color to hold the highest elected office in an AIA local chapter, as president of AIA Seattle.
Paul R. Williams, FAIA, becomes the first African American elevated to the AIA College of Fellows. With buildings like the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas, Williams soon transitioned to a more modernist mode.
Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first female African American AIA member.
Lois Lilley Howe, FAIA, is the first woman elected to AIA Fellowship. She founded her own practice in 1903 and joined two other female MIT graduates on commissions such as the Fitchburg Art Museum in Massachusetts.
Beverly Greene becomes the first African American woman to receive an architectural engineering degree, graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a master’s in city planning a year later.
Paul R. Williams, FAIA, becomes the first African American member of AIA.
Robert R. Taylor graduates from MIT with a degree in architecture, becoming the first academically-trained African American architect in the United States.