02.11.2022 Newsletter: Part 1 - Never in our wildest dreams...


Archiving Architect Roger Margerum's documents.
Never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd end up here. We both love architecture and enjoy the camaraderie with architects and designers. We both (probably) take on way more than we should when it comes to volunteering with architecture and allied professional organizations. When we started our careers, becoming storytellers and historians was not part of the plan.

"I don't know any Black architects," we'd hear people say. Well, Saundra is one. We know many - in Detroit, through our membership in the National Organization of Minority Architects, and others.

Making the invisible visible became our mission. Letting folks know about Donald White and Francis Griffin, Michigan's first two licensed Black Architects, and their contributions not only here in Michigan, but across the country and the world became our passion. Having architects and family members proudly share newspaper clippings and tell stories about navigating through a profession where Black folks sometimes feel invisible has been enlightening and empowering.

We shared so many stories and interview several architects and professional over the past year. This Black History Month, we're revisiting the highlights of 2021 and invite you to join us on our new exciting journey, including a podcast and book in the works. Make sure you're part of our community on social media, and share using the hashtag

2021 Conversations
We presented Detroit and other Midwest Black Architects and their work to the Gensler North Central Region design community during Black History Month.
Along with Rainy Hamilton, president and owner of Hamilton Anderson Associates, we discussed the landscape and history of Black architecture and life for Black architects past and present with Detroit's director of Arts and Culture Rochelle Riley. Watch the replay here >

Ahead of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 50th Homecoming Conference in Detroit, we talked with the NOMA Detroit Chapter about Black Architects' leadership in the profession, NOMA's founding in the city during the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 1970 National Convention, and Whitney Young, Jr.'s urging of the profession to contribute more to civil rights.
In a November discussion presented by the Live6 Alliance, the Detroit Community Design Collaborative, University of Detroit School of Architecture, and the National Endowment for the Arts, we convened the Architect and Owner teams of three new businesses on W. McNichols Road:
  • Detroit Sip with Jevona Watson and Louis Fisher, AIA, NOMA
  • Detroit Pizza Bar with Akunna Olumba and Bryan Cook, RA, NOMA
  • 7400 W. McNichols with Chase Cantrell and Kimberly Dokes, RA
Conversations included developer styles and motivation, how to successfully work with an architect, and more. View the talk here >
Storefront Exhibit
Architectural history was displayed at street view, accessible to all from October - December 2021. The Live6 Neighborhood Alliance and the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) presented a portion of our exhibit at a block along West McNichols Road at Prairie to go along with our conversation with minority developers and architects working on projects in the neighborhood. The Facebook Live video shows our excitement >
In the News
Core77: The Detroit Design Incubator Honors the Creativity of Motor City
Crain's Detroit Business: Acclaimed Black Architect Nathan Johnson Dies at 96
Detroit Free Press: Detroit Architect Nathan Johnson Dies at 96
Michigan Chronicle: City on Our Back: The Architects Who Built Detroit
Michigan Chronicle: McNichols on the Rebound: Black Developers Define Detroit's Forgotten Spaces
Michigan Radio: Stateside (November 19, 2021)
The New York Times: Nathan Johnson, Modernist Architect of Black Churches, Dies at 96
WDET 101.9 FM: Community Podcast Lab Helps Detroiters Get Their Start in Podcasting
What's Next?

Design Core partnered with Kickstarter to support Detroit creators with the Detroit Design Incubator (DDI), a four-month program offering direct training and strategic support to learn the ins and outs of securing funding for our new creative venture.

Noir Design Parti's upcoming Kickstarter campaign will help fund the publishing costs of our first book about Black Architects and their work in Michigan. The campaign will be launching soon with some unique rewards.

Futuro Media and WDET (101.9 FM) hosted an intensive podcast lab in Detroit for people of color. From over 90 applicants, Saundra was chosen to be one of eight participants in the Community Podcast Lab, a 15-week program helping to prepare the cohort with the storytelling and technical skills. 

We're planning for production, media partnerships, and developing lists of architects, designers and others to interview for the new podcast

Watch upcoming newsletters and our social media platforms for details.
We honor the memory of our friend and colleague, Prescott Reavis - licensed architect, educator, mentor, and design justice champion - who passed away this week. He annually highlighted Architects' biographies and design history each day during Black History Month. The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) is continuing his work.

Over the last few years, Prescott was on the design team with Saundra for a project in Detroit with Allied Media. Read Saundra's tribute, a letter from NOMA's president Jason Pugh, and an article on Archinect.
Book us for your next event or podcast
Noir Design Parti shares the significant contributions of Black architects of the past and present, their influence on design, and how their buildings have helped to shape the physical identity of Detroit, the State of Michigan, and throughout the world. Contact us to for your next salon talk, media or podcast interview, or to donate toward research and documentation.
Karen and Saundra with Architect Nathan Johnson
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