Architect Of The National Museum Of African American History And Culture Phil Freelon Passes Away At 66

The Philadelphia native was diagnosed with ALS in 2016.

Photo Credit: Twitter

| July 10 2019,

11:59 am

Phil Freelon, the architectural mind who led the team of designers behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture passed away on Tuesday at the age of 66.

"In lieu of flowers, Phil has asked that those who want to honor his legacy become sustaining donors of Northstar Church of the Arts, so that the same creative and spiritual energies that nurtured him throughout his life, may positively impact others, especially in his adopted home of Durham, North Carolina," a portion of the Freelon family statement read.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

According to The Washington Post, Freelon succumbed to complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS. For nearly three decades, he was head of an architectural company that worked to design prominent Black cultural attractions in Baltimore, Atlanta, Charlotte and Greensboro. His organization, formally recognized as the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, was appointed to design the Smithsonian landmark in 2009. CNN reports Freelon was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by former President Barack Obama in 2011.

"I derive a tremendous amount of pride in developing places that everyday people can experience," Freelon said in a 2015 interview with NBC News. "I like to create beauty in everyday lives. That’s why the Smithsonian museum linking back to my own culture is more fulfilling. From jazz to hip-hop, African-American culture is everywhere."

A Philadelphia native, Freelon earned his undergraduate degree in environmental design in architecture from North Carolina State University and his master's of architecture from MIT. In addition to the Smithsonian African American museum, NBC News notes Freelon also helped lead the design team behind the creations of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and several projects for the Washington D.C. Public Library System.