February 10

From the Ground Up: Black Architects and

Explore the contributions and courage of Black architects at MOHAI.

The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union is hosting an exhibition called “From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers.” This national traveling exhibit is a tribute to the ingenuity and impact of Black architects across the United States and offers a visual narrative about their innovative contributions to the field of architecture.

“From the Ground Up” explores the history of Black architects and features 24 individual architects and designers, from the late 1800s to the present day. The exhibit highlights the achievements of these pioneering architects and showcases iconic landmarks from across the country, showcasing their innovative designs and contributions to the field.

Two African-American architects looking at plans at a desk.

Patrons will also learn about regional Black architects and designers who have had a significant impact on our local communities. This portion of the exhibit features Seattle-area Black architects such as Benjamin F. McAdoo Jr., the first Black architect registered in Washington and the founder of the first African American-owned architecture practice in Seattle. Guests can see McAdoo’s toolbox and the Seattle Times and American Institute of Architects Home of the Month Award, which was sculpted by the famous Seattle artist George Tsutakawa.

MOHAI’s local additions to the traveling exhibit were co-developed with the Black Heritage Society of Washington State (BHS) and curatorial consultant Hasaan Kirkland of Kairos Industry LLC.

“Local Black architects from the Pacific Northwest have been designing and developing ‘our block’ for over 50 years,” said Kirkland. “This exhibit is important to honor and acknowledge the presence of African American ingenuity and architectural expertise and to thank them for helping to create the beauty of our country’s many skylines,” he said.

The traveling exhibit also features a timeline of innovative moments in the field, from the pyramids in Egypt to the present day, as well as video interviews with contemporary Black architects, Germane Barnes, Tiara Hughes, and Curtis J. Moody, discussing their experiences, inspirations, and challenges in the field.

In addition, the exhibit offers visitors the chance to engage with interactive elements, such as a touch table of building materials and an opportunity to design their own floorplans inspired by local Black architects.

Three people looking at a museum exhibit wall.

People looking at an exhibit wall in a museum.

“From the Ground Up” is a powerful tribute to the enduring impact of Black architects and their contributions to shaping the skylines of Seattle and other cities across the U.S. This exhibit is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture, design, and the role of Black architects in shaping our communities.

Check out the MOHAI calendar for more information on events related to “From the Ground Up” happening this month.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs courtesy MOHAI.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle