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NBC: Meet Phil Freelon, the Architect Behind The Newest Smithsonian

Reilly Communications


by Chandra Thomas Whitfield

You may not know his name, but you probably know his work.

He designed the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened with much fanfare in Atlanta in June of 2014. His portfolio also includes the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Emancipation Park in Houston, multiple library projects for the Washington D.C. Public Library System and the Durham County Human Services Complex in North Carolina.

Phil Freelon is widely considered one of the country's most talented architects.

A President Obama appointee to the National Commission of Fine Arts, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, the proud Philly native who now calls Durham, North Carolina home, also happens to be African American.

Now a Managing Director and Design Director with global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, Freelon is currently leading the design team for the $500 million (yes, million) Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Now under construction on the last available building site on the National Mall, when it opens in 2016 it will be the nation's primary home for exhibiting and celebrating African American achievements in art, history and culture.