The Shape of Things to Come: Reclaiming the Legacy of Detroit's Black Architects

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While Detroit’s black architects have shaped its structures and spaces for decades, most are still largely unknown. Among these are Nathan Johnson, who designed churches, schools, public buildings and private residences in a variety of architectural styles, from midcentury modern to Googie. Johnson’s work – like that of African American colleagues Roger Margerum, Howard Sims, and Harold Varner – often featured boldly modern structural elements.

How did black architects like these shape the physical structure and the cultural/aesthetic identity of Detroit? What impact have they had on their communities and on future generations, particularly in the field of architecture today?

Join Docomomo US/Michigan as we explore this year’s Tour Day theme “The Diversity of Modernism” through visits to two of Johnson’s midcentury churches: Bethel AME (1974) and Second Baptist (addition built in 1968). The Bethel AME tour will feature a lecture by architect Saundra Little and architectural designer, Karen Burton, founders of Noir Design Parti, an organization dedicated to documenting the careers of minority architects as a form of education and inspiration, and a 2016 Knight Foundation Arts Challenge winner.

Registration details coming soon.

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