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NMAAHC - National Museum of African American History and Culture

07/10/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/11/2019 03:08

Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III Statement on the Passing of Phil Freelon, Lead Architect of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian Institution's secretary and founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture today released the following statement on the passing of renowned architect, Philip Freelon. Freelon was the lead architect for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freelon and Max Bond worked with the museum in its earliest stages to develop the programmatic ideas that informed the design of the museum.

'The passing of Phil Freelon is a moment of deep sadness for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture,' said Lonnie G. Bunch III. 'Phil's reach was broad and national in scope. With a specialty in cultural institutions, he designed the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Harvey Gantt Center in Charlotte, Emancipation Park in Houston, the Anacostia and Tenleytown branches of the DC Public Library System, and the Durham County Human Services Complex.

'A successful entrepreneur, Phil opened his firm, The Freelon Group, in 1990 and served as its leader until 2014 when his firm merged with Perkins+Will. The Freelon Group partnered with DavisBrodyBond (becoming FreelonBond) to complete the programming document for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2008. In 2009, Phil partnered with three other firms to create the FreelonAdayeBond/SmithGroup architectural team, which won the juried design competition for the museum. In this partnership, Phil Freelon served as the architect of record. The museum received Leed Gold certification.

'Phil was considered one of the great architects of our time. In 2011 President Obama appointed him to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. He was also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). His work has and continues to influence a generation of architects.

'His work extended well beyond the field of architecture to include painting and fine art photography. He exhibited widely in art galleries and museums.

'The museum is honored to tell his story. In 2017, the Museum acquired the Philip G. Freelon Archive, a collection of documents, ephemera, photographs, and artifacts about his life and career. Included in the collection are original sketches by Freelon; design proposals for major projects; an identification card from his days as an architecture student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and other professional and personal memorabilia. A portion of the collection was displayed at the museum in 2018, in Recent Acquisitions: Architects' Archives.