International Women's Day: Salute to Lynda Haith, Michigan's First Black Woman Architect

Last November, we were honored to attend the awards event where Lynda Haith received the 2021 Gold Medal by the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Gold Medal is the highest honor AIA bestows, recognizing those who've had a lasting influence on the profession.

Lynda was the first Black woman to graduate from Lawrence Technological University and the first Black woman to be licensed an Architect in Michigan. When we were dreaming of becoming Architects and planning our education and careers, we never imaged that there were so few African American women who'd traveled similar paths.

After completing her architecture registration exams and becoming licensed in 1983, Lynda began her career in Detroit at Albert Kahn Associates and Griffin, Ward & Agee. In the early 1980's, she served as the only architect in the City of Grand Rapids Engineer's office. She later opened her own firm, HAITH Architecture and also served as a certified real estate and construction arbitrator.

Lynda Haith (c) with, from left, Isaac Norris, Saundra Little, Karen Burton, and Earl Howard   Lynda Haith with AIAGR 2021 president Meagan Feenstra Wall
Left photo: Ms. Haith (center) with, from left, Isaac V. Norris, AIA. NOMA; Saundra Little, FAIA, NOMA; Karen Burton, NOMA, Earl Howard, PE, Ms. Haith's Cass Tech H.S. classmate
Right photo: Ms. Haith with AIAGR 2021 president Megan Feestra Wall

As the AIAGR awards program stated, "Lynda spent a career breaking through barriers and finding her own way to success and excellence in architecture, while providing mentorship and a role model for the next generations. Her impact and legacy in the region and state are clear."

We interviewed Ms. Haith for our upcoming podcast. Audio and video clips will be released soon. In the meantime, hear her some of her experience in her own words through this AIA Grand Rapids video: