Fred Powell, AIA/NOMA, has dramatically strengthened the architectural profession through tireless community service over forty years. His advocacy, leadership, and teaching efforts have improved professional, business, and educational opportunities for minority and emerging architects and students.
Fred is an architect who leads through community service. As one who experienced the injustice of racism in the segregated south, Fred has dedicated his career to providing opportunities for minority and emerging professionals; to teaching, mentoring and inspiring underserved youths; and to designing and building spaces that promote healthy, vibrant communities. His efforts have enriched the field by increasing the number of minority professionals, by removing barriers, and by changing attitudes. His prominent engagement in the community demonstrates to the public and profession alike the importance of an expanded role for architects and inspires others to become involved.
Fred’s efforts have focused on minorities in the profession and schools, but his results have clarified the viewpoint, mission, and programs of the most important architects’ professional organizations, strengthened education for everyone, and increased business possibilities for all. The fact that he has received nine community service awards demonstrates the depth of his service and the extent of appreciation for his efforts.
Fred has provided vision, guidance, and philosophical clarity during four decades of service with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and twenty years with the American Institute of Architects. NOMA is the key national organization representing minority architects, and Fred was one of the founders of its Northern California chapter. He served as its president for four years, working tirelessly to strengthen the organization and build its membership to an all-time high. He serves as a bridge between NOMA and the AIA. He was one of the organizers of the AIA National Diversity conference and served as a board member of both the San Francisco chapter and California Council of the AIA.
Fred deeply appreciates the fine education he received and is therefore a fierce advocate for the importance of schooling and for improving quality and access to good education for underserved youths. His efforts to enrich the profession include increasing the number of minority students and ultimately, minority professionals, through teaching, mentoring, lecturing and advocating. He has taught more than five hundred students on a volunteer basis and raised tens of thousands of dollars for schools and scholarships. His passion for architecture has served as model and inspiration for youths who have not even dreamt about the possibility of entering the field.
Fred is a quiet but determined advocate for minority architects, consistently pressing for increased opportunities, recognition, and work. He lobbies political leaders and organizations for change and for the elimination of artificial and unjust barriers. He has been successful working with organizations such as the Urban League, the Small Business Administration, and the Bay Area Purchasing Council to improve access, status, and possibilities for minority firms.
Fred lives by the value that he articulated for his student body while a college student: “No student will be insensitive to the needs of his brothers while he improves himself. His personal development will constantly be a reflection of the development of his community and the enrichment of his fellow man.” Throughout his long career, Fred has never lost sight of improving his community by focusing his practice on carefully selected, locally enriching projects: affordable housing, public schools, community centers, churches, and civic buildings. He passionately believes that buildings are not merely walls and roofs but spaces that change how people live, feel, and think. He therefore creates buildings that stir the imagination and give users a sense of pride and hope.