Member News

Tiara Hughes launches First 500 Website - A Global Initiative Documenting the Achievements of Black Women Architects

by First 500 | Oct 20, 2021
The website and digital archive will raise awareness about Black women architects and their accomplishments, provide resources for students, practitioners and aspiring architects, and build a community for Black women in the field.

Did you know Black women make up less than 1% of all licensed architects in the United States? Founded and led by Tiara Hughes, FIRST 500 is a global platform that addresses this industry-wide equity gap. FIRST 500’s mission is to elevate and celebrate Black women architects and their accomplishments, to provide a centralized community and resources for designers of all levels, and to inspire Black women and girls to infinitely increase their licensed representation in the industry to better reflect the communities we design for.

FIRST 500 has evolved to include some of the greatest thought leaders and designers in the industry to advance the strategic direction of this platform. Board members include Adaeze Cadet, Danei Cesario, Dawn David-Pierre, Kiwana McClung, Latoya Kamdang, Lisa Cholmondeley, and Valarie Franklin, and the advisory council includes Anzilla Gilmore, FAIA, June Grant, FAIA, Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, and Dina Griffin, FAIA.

“When I finished my master's in 2015 and made the big move from Springfield, Missouri, to Chicago, my goal was to connect with Black women architects and learn the ropes of the industry. I quickly learned there was no central resource for this distinguished group and their accomplishments, and that of the 105,000+ licensed architects in the United States at that time, less than 500 of them identified as Black women. Equipped with this information, I founded FIRST 500, a global initiative dedicated to celebrating and connecting Black women architects,” says Tiara Hughes, Founder and Executive Director of FIRST 500.

Since its inception, FIRST 500 has served as a crucial platform for advocacy and awareness, and instilled a sense of momentum in the industry, motivating Black women to increase their representation and expand their professional opportunities by getting licensed. The website now provides a permanent place to showcase their stories to inspire us all. Stay tuned for updates including more profiles and resources for those on their journey. For any inquiries or to learn more about the FIRST 500, please visit www.first500.org or contact us at info@first500.org and keep an eye out for future programming!

Tiara Hughes joined SAH in 2020.  She currently serves on the board of the Charnley-Persky House Museum.  
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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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