23 January 1935(Birth)
15 June 2015(Death)
Norcell Haywood was one of the first four African American students to be accepted as an undergraduate to the University of Texas at Austin in June 1954, although he was told to take freshman prerequisites for their program at a tax-supported accredited institution for African Americans. Norcell attended Prairie View A&M and then returned to UT Austin in 1956 where he took a full load of courses, worked at the Driskill Hotel and was also part of the ROTC program. “This was in the 50s, and we didn’t have any civil rights laws. Being on this campus was the closest thing to equality that we as blacks had.” In 1960, Haywood became the second African American to receive a degree in Architecture from the UT School of Architecture. “I would say that we made it because we couldn’t turn back,” Haywood said. “There was nothing to go back to.”
Upon graduation, Mr. Haywood became a professor of engineering at Prairie View A&M and then worked for the City of Austin Planning Department. Norcell moved to San Antonio in 1963 to work with architect O’Neill Ford on the Tower of Americas project at HemisFair. In 1968, he became the first licensed African American architect in San Antonio. His professional memberships included the American Institute of Architects, Texas Society of Architects, the Society of American Military Engineers and a life membership in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He was the first African American to be appointed to the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners and served as Vice Chairman of the Board.
Haywood championed the community architect concept and believed "[minority architects] should be able to beneficially serve their profession and community at the same time without having to serve one at the expense of the other" (Henry, Jesse Jr. "The Community Architect Concept," San Antonio Express/News, Sunday, 17 September 1972, p. 10-G). He wanted to use his profession for social change. He formed a Minority Architects group to encourage and mentor young Black architects. He used recycled materials, natural lighting and ventilation and rainwater collection systems long before “green” building became a trend. In an interview in 2010, Mr. Haywood said, “I am not a civil rights person; I am an architect who is civil-minded."
-AIA San Antonio & AIA Austin