Roberta Washington, FAIA

(l–r): Roberta Washington, Carlton Brown, and J. Max Bond

Washington is owner of the 10-person New York firm Roberta Washington Architects PC, which opened in 1983. It is the largest continuously operated female-owned, African-American architecture firm in the country. Washington is used to "firsts." She is the first American to work for the postindependence government of Mozambique, for example. And she and/or her firm have worked on countless major projects - from the Jazz and Negro Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City to renovating 50 abandoned townhouses and apartment buildings in Harlem to designing a new eight-story, 128-unit condo unit in Central Harlem to a new subway station in Brooklyn. Many of the firm's earliest projects were conceived for populations with special needs, including housing for adults with AIDS and a project to help unite former female prison inmates with their children.

Washington, who earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from Howard University and a master's in the same subject (with emphasis on hospital and health-facility design) from Columbia University, tries to live by the words of Calvin Coolidge: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

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