February 8, 2021

Black History Month is an annual observance that celebrates African Americans and recognizes their fundamental part in American history. More importantly, this celebration isn’t only significant for Americans, but for people across the world, as other countries, including Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, have joined in to celebrate black history.

We take this opportunity to focus on Wendell Campbell and recognize his contributions in the architectural industry. Mr. Campbell was born in 1927 and received his BA in architecture and city planning from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1957. Mr. Campbell went on to form his own firm, Wendell Campbell Associates, and was responsible for a number of influential projects in Chicago, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, the northern expansion of McCormick Place Convention Center and the M.L. King Drive Gateway.

In addition to Mr. Campbell’s design work, one of his notable achievements was his role as a founder and the first president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). NOMA is an organization whose origins were focused on unifying the work of minority design professionals and combating systematic discrimination that limited or even banned minority architects from working in the design and construction industries. Today, NOMA has more than 30 chapters across the United States with a mission that, "fosters justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence."

Mr. Campbell was also civically active and served as board member for organizations such as the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, the Black Ensemble Theater, and the South Side YMCA.

Mr. Campbell passed away in 2008, but his trailblazing influence on the architectural community is seen not only in design work but also in NOMA’s significant role in mentoring, educating and advocating for minority architects across our country.

Epstein has a tradition of honoring influential figures of the firm’s history or individuals that have made a notable impact in our industry by naming our conference rooms and gathering spaces after them. Within our Chicago office, you can find rooms named after our founder, Abraham Epstein, as well as AEC industry superstars Mies van der Rohe & Fazlur Kahn. Because of the contributions Mr. Campbell has made within the Chicago architectural community, coupled with his founding role of NOMA, we felt we should honor him in a similar fashion. Therefore, we have named our newest conference room "The Campbell." A small gesture, but one which we believe will serve as an educational tool, allowing the room's many users/visitors an opportunity to learn more about Wendell Campbell’s career and his impact in the architectural community.