Thursday, October 30, 2014
Paul Revere Williams-Certified African-American Architect
Paul Revere Williams, FAIA was an American architect based in Los Angeles, California. He practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lon Chaney, and Charles Correll. He also designed many public and private buildings. Orphaned at the age of 4, Williams was the only African American student in his elementary school. He studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design Atelier, subsequently working as a landscape architect. He went on to attend the University of Southern California, School of Engineering, designing several residential buildings while still a student there. Williams became a certified architect in 1921, and the 1st certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi. Williams won an architectural competition at age 25 and three years later opened his own office. He perfected the skill of rendering drawings "upside down.", so that his white clients (who might have been uncomfortable sitting next to a black architect) could see the drawings rendered right side up across the table from him. Williams became the 1st African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. In 1939, he won the AIA Award of Merit for his design of the MCA Building in Los Angeles (now headquarters of the Paradigm Talent Agency). Other Projects include-Palm Springs Tennis Club (1947) and the Town & Country (1948) and Romanoff's on the Rocks (1948) restaurants. In 1951, Williams won the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Man of the Year award and in 1953 he received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP for his outstanding contributions as an architect and member of the African-American community. Williams also received honorary doctorates from Howard University (doctor of architecture), Lincoln University of Missouri (doctor of science), and the Tuskegee Institute (doctor of fine arts). In 1957, he became the first African-American to be voted an AIA Fellow. Williams designed more than 2,000 private homes, most of which were in the Hollywood Hills and the Mid-Wilshire portion of Los Angeles (including his own home in Lafayete Square, part of historic West Adams, Los Angeles, California). Williams co-designed with Hilyard Robinson the first federally funded public housing projects of the post-war period (Langston Terrace, Washington, D.C.) and later the Pueblo del Rio project in southeast Los Angeles.