May 2, 2007
NOMAC Profile: Roberta Washington
Roberta Washington’s love of art and a chance meeting with a black architect led to a career in architecture. She won local high school art shows in Greensboro, NC and attended the first summer of Governor’s School for the Arts.
Roberta graduated from Howard University’s School of Architecture with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and attended Columbia University’s School of Architecture earning a Masters Degree in Architecture (Hospital and Health Facility Design). She used a Kinne Fellowship to travel to Ghana. After graduation, she worked for firms specializing in hospital design, got licensed and worked in Mozambique for the Ministry Public Works for four years.
When she returned to New York, she moved to Harlem and started her own firm in 1983. In the beginning, the majority of the projects were rehabilitation and restoration projects. New construction projects include two ‘green’ projects including one to be LEED certified. Roberta became LEED accredited in 2003.
Roberta has served as a juror for NAACP’s ACTSO architecture competition, Chair of the Housing Committee of Central Harlem’s Community Planning Board, chairperson of the NY State Board of Architecture and as a question writer for NCARB registration exams. Roberta also served on several AIA NYC committees including the Foundation for Architecture. In 2006 Roberta Washington was elevated to the College of Fellows. In 2007, she was appointed to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Roberta Washington joined the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA) in 1988 and NOMA in 1991. She was elected to the NOMA Board of Directors as a regional director and worked to present to NYCOBA members the advantages of NOMA membership. In 1995, NYCOBA became the New York affiliate of NOMA. Roberta was elected NOMA president in 1997 – the second woman to serve in this capacity since its creation. During her year in office, Roberta worked to stabilize the financial condition of the organization, established the organization’s web-site (NOMA.net) and publicized the finding of NOMA’s historian about black women in architecture. She was inducted into the NOMA Counsel in October 1997.
Roberta Washington continues to run her firm in New York City where she designs schools, housing and cultural projects. One such project is the Interfaith Specialty Clinic featured below. (Photo by John Gallager)