Celebrated African American Architect Norma Merrick Sklarek is a phenomenal woman with many accomplishments in her lifetime. Her achievements serve as an example of what we can accomplish despite the odds if we stay focused and stead fast in our goals.
Sklarek, born and raised in New York City to West Indian parents came from humble beginnings, She grew up in a time when women when men and women were expected to maintain their respective roles as bread winner (men) and homemakers (women). However, Norma’s father, who was a physician, encouraged her to pursue a career that was outside of the norm for women in her day.
After attending Hunter College High School, and Barnard College, Norma applied and got accepted into Columbia University ‘s Architecture program which was feat in itself considering Columbia only accepted a handful of female students into it’s program. She was an excellent student and went on to pass the Architecture licensing exam on her first try, an accomplishment many could not achieve. Norma was the first African American female to become a licensed Architect in New York State and in California.
Her first Architecture job was with one of New York’s biggest Architecture firm, at the time, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Norma worked there for several years before moving onto California. She got a job with Gruen Associates in Los Angeles where she remained for over two decades. During her tenure at Gruen Associates she advanced rapidly, becoming Director of Architecture. Sklarek later joined Los Angeles Architecture firm Welton Becket.
In the mid 1980s Norma Merrick Sklarek partnered with Margot Siegel and Katherine Diamond to form Siegel, Sklarek Diamond, one of the largest female owned architectural firms in the United States.
Some of her major project collaborations include but are not limited to,
- Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport
- Fox Plaza San Francisco, CA
- U.S Embassy in Tokyo
- City Hall, San Bernadino, CA
Norma Merrick Sklarek is an inspiration and role model for everyone, especially Black women.
Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norma_Merrick_Sklarek http://www.biography.com/people/norma-sklarek-7326 http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/10/local/la-me-norma-sklarek-20120210 http://architecture.about.com/od/architectsaz/p/sklarek.htm http://www.aia.org/practicing/AIAB093149 http://www.aiacc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/