Phil Freelon, the architect behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, died Tuesday at his home in Durham, North Carolina. He was 66.
He had Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Freelon led a group of firms that won the design competition for the NMAAHC in 2009, beating out heavy-hitters like Norman Foster and I.M. Pei. (Pei died in May). Along with Freelon, the team included London-based David Adjaye, J. Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond of New York along with local firm SmithGroup.
The $540 million, 400,000-square-foot museum opened in 2016 in the shadow of the Washington Monument to generally positive reviews. It drew 2.51 million visitors in 2017.
“Architecture often deals in grand statements rather than subtle emotions,” Wall Street Journal architecture critic Julie Iovine wrote just before the museum’s opening. “But at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the spirit of inclusion,…Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.