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.

1888

Buffalo architect Louise Blanchard Bethune, FAIA, becomes first woman to hold AIA membership.

1890

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.

1857

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

 
 

1972

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.

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1973

Leaders at the AIA National Convention in San Francisco pass a resolution “to integrate women into all aspects of the profession as full participants.”

1974

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.

1985

Arquitectos: The Society of Hispanic Professional Architects is established in Chicago.

1969

AIA launches the Minority-Disadvantaged Scholarship (later, the Diversity Advancement Scholarship) to create a more diverse and relevant profession.

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1971

Robert J. Nash becomes the first African American architect elected to AIA national office.

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1970

Louis Weller, FAIA, becomes the first AIA member to identify as Native American.

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1960s to 1980s

Waking up and forging a new, relevant profession

1968

Addressing the AIA National Convention in Portland, Oregon, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. challenges the organization to stand for social responsibility.

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1993

Johnpaul Jones, FAIA, becomes the earliest member of the AIA College of Fellows to identify as Native American.

1994

Robert T. Coles, FAIA, is elected as the first African American architect to serve as chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows.

1994

The inaugural Diversity Conference is held in Washington, D.C. with the title, “Breaking the ICE: Building New Leadership.”

1996

Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, becomes the first woman to receive the AIA Topaz Medallion, which recognizes outstanding individual contributions in architectural education.

1990s

Acknowledging the past and looking to the future

1992

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.”

1992

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.

1991

Bradford C. Grant and Dennis Alan Mann publish the first edition of the Directory of African American Architects.

1975

American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE) is founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

1978

The Asian American Architects and Engineers Association (AAa/e) is founded in Southern California.

1980

Los Angeles-based architect Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first African American woman elevated to the AIA College of Fellows.

1974

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.

1971

Twelve prominent African American designers found the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) at the 1971 AIA Convention in Detroit.

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National Organization of Minority Architects - AIA Whitney Young Award

1997

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

2000

Louis L. Weller, FAIA, becomes the first Native American architect to receive the AIA Whitney Young Jr. Award.

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2007

Leers Weinzapfel Associates becomes the first women-founded architectural group to receive the AIA Firm Award.

2007

Washington, D.C. architect Marshall Purnell, FAIA, serves as the first elected African American AIA president.

2002

California architect Gordon Chong, FAIA, serves as first elected Asian American AIA president.

2008

Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first woman to receive the Whitney Young Award.

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2009

The AIA Women's Leadership Summit (WLS) gathers for its inaugural national meeting in Chicago, bringing together women designers entering professional leadership roles.

2018

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.

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2019

Karen Braitmayer, FAIA, receives the Whitney Young Award for pushing the notion of accessible design beyond a simple compliance with laws and codes.

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2019

Pittsburgh architect William J. Bates, FAIA, serves at the second elected African American AIA President.

2017

Paul R. Williams, FAIA, posthumously receives the AIA Gold Medal, becoming the first African American architect honored with the award.

2013

California architect Julia Morgan, FAIA, posthumously becomes the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal.

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2010

AIA adopts the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

2011

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.

2016

AIA launches the Equity in Architecture Commission, which creates recommendations on fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion within the profession. 

Read the report >

2018

AIA forms the Equity and the Future of Architecture board committee, which releases the first installments of its "Guides for Equitable Practice" series.

Read the reports >

2018 - AIA Equity and the Future of Arch
2016 - AIA Equity Commission - AIA Diver

1995

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.

1957

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.

1959

Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, becomes the first female African American AIA member.

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1931

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.

1936

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.

1923

Paul R. Williams, FAIA, becomes the first African American member of AIA.

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1890

Robert R. Taylor graduates from MIT with a degree in architecture, becoming the first academically-trained African American architect in the United States.