INTERSECTIONS: Where Diversity, Equity and Design Meet

Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, VA / image: Suchak, courtesy of the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., will bring leading Black voices in design, art, and architecture to the Museum for INTERSECTIONS: Where Diversity, Equity and Design Meet, dynamic discussions about culture, equity and representation in the built world through the lens of design. The programming is a part of the Museum’s ongoing signature series, Equity in the Built Environment, which focuses on the relationship between equity, social justice, and our built environment.

Launching September 16 and running through December 14, INTERSECTIONS includes a series of programs led by nationally recognized Black designers, architects, and artists. They will engage participants in conversations centered on actions to promote social justice in the built environment. These participatory experiences are designed to provoke new thinking, spark conversation, enlighten, and empower. The season will also include three workshops and a roundtable discussion.

“We are thrilled to give a platform to these influential Black voices who speak to the role of culture and identity in design and the built environment and are underrepresented within the industry.”
– Jacquelyn Sawyer, Vice President of Education and Engagement for the National Building Museum


Demar Matthews…at the Intersection of Identity and Community
Friday, September 16, 2022, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (ET)

Can buildings, streets and landscapes affirm identity and define community? How does architecture amplify or silence, reflect or distort perspective, perception and narrative? These are the questions that Demar Matthews, Principal and Founder of OffTOP Design, asks with his work. Matthews’ practice investigates the power of architecture as a cultural signifier and vehicle of traditions, values and identity. The inaugural program will include local food trucks Sizzler and Little Minor Taco at the Museum’s G Street entrance, drinks, and music by Les The DJ in the Great Hall.

$15 Museum Member | $10 Student | $25 Non-member
1.5 PDH (LA CES) / 1.5 LU HSW (AIA)

Harriet Tubman…at the Intersection of Legacy and Landscape
Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 6:30-8:00 p.m. (ET)
In-person and virtual

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birth, this program, presented as part of the Darwina L. Neal Cultural Landscape Fund for programs focused on cultural landscapes, explores how the preservation and interpretation of landscapes strengthens our understanding of our shared history. The story of Harriet Tubman’s journey from an enslaved person, to a fearless leader of emancipation, to a giant of American history is one of the most dynamic examples of the power of individuals to affect the American cultural narrative. Speakers include Jessica Bowes, Cultural Resource Specialist for Women’s Rights and Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks in New York, Chris Elcock, Associate Principal at GWWO Architects, and Deanna Mitchell, Superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Maryland. The program is moderated by Kaye Wise-Whitehead, Associate Professor of Communication, African and African American Studies at Loyola University, Maryland. Insights into the factors that shaped Tubman’s life will amplify and preserve her legacy. The program will be followed by a reception.

$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 PDH (LA CES) and has been submitted to AIA for continuing education review.

Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, VA / image: Suchak, courtesy of the National Building Museum

Mabel Wilson…at the Intersection of Representation and Tradition
Friday, September 23, 2022, 6:30-8:00 p.m. (ET)

Mabel O. Wilson, the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, returns to the National Building Museum to join Glenn LaRue Smith, FASLA, Co-Founder and Design Director PUSH Studio in conversation. Professor Wilson will discuss her work on the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia and the ability of architecture to challenge tradition and redefine our perception of history to include the voices of the silenced and the experiences of the powerless. A reception to follow the presentation.

$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
1.5 PDH (LA CES) / 1.5 LU HSW (AIA)

Amanda Williams…at the Intersection of Art, Architecture and Social Commentary
Friday, October 21, 2022, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (ET)

Visual artist Amanda Williams, Founder of aw | studio, blurs the lines between art, architecture, and social commentary with her investigations of topics such as prejudice, gun violence, and shared cultural experience. This exploration of William’s unique artistic perspective on color, race, and space will demonstrate how design can catalyze conversations about privilege, gentrification, and perceptions of communities of color.

$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member

This installation is born from Chicago’s rich history of annual block parties that provide necessary resources to vulnerable and engaged residents, particularly on the South and West Sides. These gatherings are self-funded, self-organized, and self-policed. They are an example of the many acts of civic responsibility that occur routinely in disenfranchised neighborhoods when residents take matters into their own hands. / image: MAW Photography, courtesy of the National Building Museum

Germane Barnes…at the Intersection of Storytelling, Architecture and Cultural Narrative
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 6:00-10:00 p.m. (ET)

Germane Barnes, Principal and Founder of Studio Barnes, is a multi-disciplinary designer who uses film, exhibitions, large scale installations and furniture to investigate the connection between architecture and identity. Barnes challenges interpretations of what defines and shapes cultural narrative by telling stories that explore the ways Black people have defined themselves and their communities. The evening includes a screening of his award-winning short film You Can Always Come Home and includes live music, drinks, and light bites.

$20 Museum Member | $15 Student | $35 Non-member
This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA) and has been submitted to LA CES for continuing education review.

Cory Henry…at the Intersection of Design, Development and Community
Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (ET)

Cory Henry, Principal and Founder of Atelier Cory Henry closes out the INTERSECTIONS series with the question of whether design should reflect culture, history and community concerns. His portfolio of work spans three continents and ranges from private homes to mobile personal care centers for the houseless, and highlights Henry’s commitment to community-centered design. Henry challenges traditional partnership dynamics and reframes perceptions about who design truly serves.

$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member
This program has been submitted to AIA and LA CES for continuing education review.


To complement the speaker series, the National Building Museum is partnering with BlackSpace Urbanist Collective on three workshops designed to provoke further thought and action on the topic of equity in the built environment. The workshops will provide participants with a forum for deep discussion and collaboration about the importance of cultural presence between multiracial urbanist audiences.

BlackSpace Urbanist Collective facilitated workshop providing participants a chance for deeper discussion and collaboration. / image: BlackSpace Urbanist Collective, courtesy of the National Building Museum

BlackSpace…at the Intersection of Diversity, Agency and Design
Thursday, September 8, 6:30-8:00 p.m. (ET) and
Tuesday, October 18, 6:30-8:00 p.m. (ET)

These two virtual workshops introduce the importance of culturally relevant and affirming design principles and how these can be used as a tool to create and preserve inclusive spaces.

$15 Museum Member | $10 Student | $20 Non-member

BlackSpace…at the Intersection of Diversity, Agency and Design
Saturday, November 19, 2022, 2:00-5:00 p.m. (ET)

The final workshop will help participants reconceptualize the design of an existing interior space using principles of inclusive and culturally affirming design. A reception will follow, providing additional opportunity to network with BlackSpace Collective facilitators.

No design experience needed! Open to all professionals, students, and the design curious.

$35 Museum Member | $20 Student | $50 Non-member

INTERSECTIONS Roundtable Discussion

Large Firm Roundtable…at the Intersection of Equity, Advocacy and Industry
Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 6:30-8:00 p.m. (ET)

In 2020, the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) task force of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) began their work on the responsibility of architectural leaders in increasing diversity and fostering equity within their field. The LFRT, representing 70 of AIA’s largest firms, will discuss their work at this roundtable led by Jonathan Moody, CEO of Moody Nolan and co-chair of the JEDI task force. A panel of Moody’s fellow committee members, moderated by Marnique Heath, Principal and Board Chair, STUDIOS Architecture, will discuss how a profession can inspire meaningful change within itself. A reception to follow the discussion.

$10 Museum Member | Free Student | $20 Non-member

This program qualifies for 1.5 LU/HSW (AIA) and has been submitted to LA CES for continuing education review.

The National Building Museum’s Equity in the Built Environment initiative is supported by STUDIOS Architecture and Arup.

Leave a Reply