2020 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award Recipient
Named for civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr., this award distinguishes an architect or architectural organization that embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, such as affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access.
A consummate innovator in areas of equity and inclusion, Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, has forged a new path for the future of the profession. Her voice as a leader has reverberated throughout her firm and the design community, leading to palpable changes and the realization that a more just and equitable profession is within reach.
“As former staff of AIA National and responsible for equity, diversity, and inclusion, I have relied upon Gabrielle Bullock to provide support, advocacy, and speak for the advancement of a more diverse profession,” wrote Damon Leverett, AIA, in a letter supporting Bullock’s nomination for the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. “While being highly engaged in the culture of the profession, she maintains a progressive career as an architect and designer, leading socially responsible projects across the country and globally.”
Bullock was inspired to become an architect in order to positively affect the lives of African-Americans and other people of color. She was the first African-American and first woman to assume the role of managing director at Perkins and Will and, since 2013, has served as the firm’s director of global diversity. In that position, she has been charged with broadening the firm’s culture of inclusion and reshaping society as a whole by confronting issues of equity through meaningful work. While she has helped Perkins and Will achieve equilibrium in its gender diversity, she works tirelessly to address the more ambitious goal of shifting the firm’s ethnic diversity through tactics such as scholarships and a visiting scholar program with Tuskegee University.
As a compelling role model, Bullock also champions diversity throughout the entire profession. Her efforts have led to her role as the first female African-American president of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and speaking engagements and committee roles for AIA and other allied organizations. Bullock has been an important voice for AIA’s Equity in Architecture Commission and its Diversity Council, driving the implementation of critical program and policy changes such as AIA Resolution 18-3: Diversity Pipeline and National Representation. She has been a captivating speaker at engagements such as the 2019 AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, 2019 ENCOMPASS: Inclusive Architecture conference, and AIA 2015 POWERFUL: Women Leading Design symposium.
“Clearly, as attested by her wide-ranging and multiple accomplishments and honors to date, Gabrielle is indeed the embodiment of ‘role model,’” Cheryl S. Durst, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA, wrote in a letter supporting Bullock’s nomination. “Yet I feel her greatest strength is that of being distinctly human and humane. This woman of substance has approached every challenge—personal, professional (and everything in between)—with clear-headed, honest, pragmatic realism. She is not interested in sugar-coating an issue or soundbite-ing a solution.”
Bullock is passionate about exposing minority youth to the profession in an effort to strengthen its talent pipeline. A member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) since 1993, she has led a number of the organization’s important initiatives, such as its Project Pipeline Architecture Summer Camp, which encourages potential architects to explore design through hands-on experiences. She’s also bolstered NOMA in areas where member representation is low, supporting the development of chapters in cities such as Minneapolis.
Her beliefs are clearly reflected in her design work, too, and her projects have helped ethnically diverse communities amplify their voices. Her focus on socially responsible work is evident in Destination Crenshaw, where an open-air museum along the 1.3-mile stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles celebrates the surrounding African-American community through permanent and rotating art exhibitions. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences represents the country’s first coed university. Bullock facilitated open discussions with the international design team and contractors in an effort to instill in them the importance of cultural sensitivity and social responsibility for the project.
“Having her advocating for architects of color, of which I am one, and others marginalized within the profession has been and will continue to be extremely valuable,” Carlton T. Smith, FAIA, wrote in support of Bullock’s nomination. “Using the international platforms made available to her through her innate desire to serve has increased awareness not only within the profession, but also to a much larger audience. Her message will continue to resonate for years to come.”