Phil Freelon: Architect for Social Equity, The renowned founder of his eponymous studio—which joined Perkins and Will in 2014—passed away July 9th, leaving a major legacy of built works, community engagement, and advocacy within architecture. Metropolis, July 12, 2019.
Freelon is best known nationally for his museum and cultural work, especially a series of projects dedicated to African American history and culture. In 2010 in Greensboro, he completed the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which preserves the Woolworth lunch counter where, in 1960, four students from North Carolina A & T university staged a series of sit-ins, catalyzing the nonviolent protest movement. His museum projects often employed sculptural form-making to express a building’s meaning and function. The 2014 National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is a curving brown-and-tan panel-clad structure (its skin expressing diversity of skin color) that resembles a Richard Serra bent-steel sculpture with a glass atrium inserted in the center. In Baltimore, his 2005 Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture resembles an Alexander Calder mobile balanced precariously before adversity. In Charlotte, he designed a perforated metal-clad Center for African-American Arts + Culture in 2009 as a metaphor for Jacob’s ladder, symbolizing ascent to a higher, more blessed place.