Portrait of Phil Freelon Philip Goodwin Freelon

Dear NOMA Family,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Philip Goodwin Freelon (1952 – 2019), one of the greatest architects of our time. Phil Freelon was a long-time NOMA member as well as a mentor to many in the organization and beyond.

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Phil and the team introduced a museum unlike any other to the National Mall. Just one of many of the influential projects he will always be remembered for.

Mr. Freelon will be remembered not only for his incredible design talent, but also for his leadership, poise, kindness and generosity. On a personal note, I remember when I first met Mr. Freelon at the 2010 NOMA Conference in Boston. He was incredibly approachable and gracious. I remembered studying his work as an architecture student and I was very excited about meeting him as a young professional.

Getting to share space with Phil Freelon was a highlight of my NOMA experience that first time and all of the subsequent opportunities I had to interact with him, including as recently as last year during a meeting in Detroit. Our industry lost a titan today.

NOMA Basketball game
Taking time at the conference to enjoy a little recreation.

I will always remember playing basketball with him at the Boston NOMA conference. We were on the same team and it was a great game versus the students. We won, but really any team with Phil Freelon is a winner. Most people know that Phil Freelon’s team won the commission for the iconic National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), in partnership with David Adjaye and the legendary J. Max Bond, forming the FAB Studio. This transformative project was just one of Mr. Freelon’s great works, both as a firm owner, founding The Freelon Group in 1990, and as a firm leader at Perkins+Will later in his remarkable career.

Phil Freelon remains a role model to those who have had the privilege of knowing him. His legacy will live on through all who he has taught, mentored, interacted with, and for all of those who enjoy the benefit of engaging with his design work. Mr. Freelon will be sorely missed by his NOMA family and most notably by his wife Nnenna and his three children.

Phil Freelon, NOMAC, FAIA, was one of a kind and NOMA is proud to honor him by renaming our Annual Professional Design Awards the Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards, beginning at this year’s conference in Brooklyn, October 16th – 20th. Please join us in honoring the phenomenal legacy of Phil Freelon.

In Solidarity,
Kimberly Dowdell
2019-2020 NOMA President