Norma Merrick Sklarek was the first ever African-American woman who achieved many accolades in the world of modern architecture. She was the first black woman to be licensed as an architect in the United States in 1954 and in California in 1962. She was also the first African-American woman director of architecture at Gruen and Associates in Los Angeles. In 1966, after becoming the Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Sklarek became the first black woman to accomplish the honor. In 1985, she was the first African-American woman architect who formed her own architectural firm Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond, which was the largest woman-owned firm during her time.
She was born on April 15, 1928 in New York City and brought up by two West Indian parents Dr. Walter and Ernest Merrick. From her early childhood she was a very bright student and had great passion for architecture. She attended Hunter College High School, and later graduated from Barnard College and completed her degree in architecture from Columbia University’s School of Architecture in 1950.
Some of her landmark projects are the Fox Plaza in San Francisco, the behemoth 2.5 million square foot fashion center known as California Mart, the City Hall in San Bernardino, California, Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Terminal One, the Los Angeles International Airport
The Fox Plaza in San Francisco
The San Bernardino City Hall, San Bernardino, California
Embassy of the United States,Tokyo, Japan