Architectural history professor receives grant from Graham Foundation

Emily Makaš, associate professor of architectural history, is a recipient of a 2024 grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She and her research partner Arthur J. Clement, will use the $10,000 grant for archival research toward the book project, “Philip G. Freelon: An Architect of Relationships and Stories.”

The book, which Makaš and Clement will edit, will be the first to document and assess the career and work of Philip Freelon (1953-2019), a nationally acclaimed North Carolina architect. In 2009, he became the first African American selected for the American Institute of Architect’s Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Buildings.

Freelon, whose career spanned more than four decades, designed museums and cultural facilities focused on the African American experience, including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Emancipation Park in Houston and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture in Charlotte. Perhaps most notably, he led the design team for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The book project will combining scholarly analysis, personal reflection, biography and professional photography to thoroughly document Freelon’s body of work, explore his role as a design leader and diversity advocate and demonstrate how his identity and background led to the foregrounding of Black culture in his designs.

Makaš is the graduate program director for the Master of Science in Architecture and a founding co-director of the Center for Community, Heritage and the Arts, a pilot research center in the College of Arts + Architecture.  

She led the curation and design team for an exhibition on Freelon’s works titled “Container/Contained: Phil Freelon Design Strategies for Telling African American Stories,” which premiered at the Gantt Center in 2021 before traveling to the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2022 and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee in 2023.

The exhibition is scheduled for display in spring 2025 at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American History and Culture in Atlanta, which Freelon designed. 

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