Update: This exhibition has been extended through Fall 2020.
Beginning January 28, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History will recognize and pay homage to the life and work of Phil Freelon, who passed away on July 9, 2019. During his storied career as an architect, Phil also established a reputation as a philanthropist, community leader, and mentor for young people interested in combining their interest in design with a sense of social responsibility. The Stone Center’s exhibition will focus on the local, national and international dimensions of Freelon’s work while also celebrating his life as a figure whose influence transcended his professional accomplishments. He is best known at UNC–Chapel Hill as the designer of the Stone Center.
Phil established his firm, The Freelon Group, in Durham in 1990. Their most celebrated work is the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C., where they are named as architect of record. However, the focus of the Stone Center’s exhibition will be the works that early on informed the vision and design philosophy that appeared and reappeared in Freelon’s work both before and after the completion of NMAAHC in 2016. These projects include: The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte; The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco; The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, MS; and Emancipation Park in in Houston. Visitors to Baltimore can view his work at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. With the addition of Detroit’s $50 million, 50,000 square foot Motown Museum, currently under construction, Freelon will have designed eight museums devoted to the African American Experience. Among his numerous other projects are buildings at North Carolina A&T State University, the City of Durham, NC and the distinctive new parking structures at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Freelon, a native of Philadelphia, studied architecture at North Carolina State University and graduated with an M.Arch . from M.I.T. At age 25, he became the youngest architect to pass the registration exam in North Carolina. He was appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 2011 and was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) North Carolina Gold Medal and the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.
The Stone Center’s exhibition on Phil Freelon will run through fall 2020. The exhibition is co-curated by Lew Myers, former Chief Public Relations Officer for The Freelon Group. Additional technical support has been provided by Anna Marich, Communications Director at Perkins+Will in Durham.