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Building Matters: Black Architects in Michigan


Wednesday February 1, 2017: 7:00pm to 8:30pm


Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room


In honor of Black History Month, local experts discuss the contributions of Black architects, architectural designers, and landscape architects to the built environment of Michigan. They will touch on Michigan's first Black-owned architectural firm, Detroit's historic Black Bottom neighborhood, and Detroit's connection to the rise of hip-hop architecture.

For the first time, Building Matters will be coordinated by multiple presenters. In addition to Jessica A.S. Letaw, we will hear from Karen AD Burton, Saundra Little, and Emily Kutil.

Ms. Burton and Ms. Little's project, the Noir Design Parti, is a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winner. They are documenting the professional journeys and creative works of Detroit’s black architects through a series of videos, photographs, maps and tours. Ms. Kutil's project, "Black Bottom Street View" aims to connect Detroit residents with the Burton Historic Collection’s photographs of the former Black Bottom neighborhood, and is also a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winner (2016 was a huge year for Detroit architecture!).

Saundra Little is a registered architect and founder and principal of Centric Design Studio, an architecture firm based in midtown Detroit. Her firm specializes in office, retail, healthcare and multifamily design. She holds a bachelors and masters degree from Lawrence Technological University, is a past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects - Detroit Chapter [NOMA-D], a board member of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, and past board member of the AIA Detroit.

Karen Burton is a marketing consultant to architects, engineers and artists who combines her architectural design and entrepreneurial experience to help business grow to their full potential. She is also founder and president of SpaceLab Detroit, a new coworking space opening in soon in downtown Detroit. Karen has a bachelor of science degree in architecture from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, studied business administration at Wayne State University, and is a board member of the Detroit Chapters of the National Association of Minority Architects and National Association of Women in Construction.

Emily Kutil is a designer, adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, and a member of the We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective.

This program will be moderated by Jessica A.S. Letaw, who enjoys working on, thinking over, and telling stories about architecture. Jessica's past day jobs included design/build and construction firms. She lives in Ann Arbor with her rescue hound, Henry, and keeps herself out of trouble by volunteering for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and other local events. She enjoys reading, gardening, and well-made White Russians.

Don't miss this opportunity to explore the history and continuing legacy of local Black architects in Michigan and beyond.

This event will be recorded