The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

Remembering first licensed African-American female architect Norma Merrick Sklarek

by The Madeleine Brand Show

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Norma Merrick Sklarek died this week at the age of 85. She was the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in the United States and to form her own firm. c/o the American Institute of Architects

Norma Merrick Sklarek was the first African-American woman to become a licensed architect in the United States. She died this week at 85.

She started working in New York in the 1950s, but spent the bulk of her career in Los Angeles.

She was part of many major Southern California projects: Terminal 1 at LAX, The Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and the California Mart downtown.

As the only female and only African-American at Columbia University studying architecture at the time, she was both dismissed and denigrated by her classmates. After graduating, she applied to more than 20 firms before getting hired. The architecture firms she worked with kept her hidden from clients and didn't always give her proper credit. In 1985, however, she formed her own firm called Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond.

Marshall Purnell joins the show to discuss Sklarek's life. He is the former president of the American Institute of Architects. His firm Devrouax and Purnell is in Washington, D.C.

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