Spotlight: The Passing of Ivory Lee Young Jr.
by: Garfield Pert
December 1, 2018
It was my honor and profound privilege to be on stage today on behalf of the National Organization of Minority Architects to remember and celebrate a true trailblazer, architect and mentor – Ivory Lee Young Jr. Speakers included Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressman John Lewis, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor Kasim Reed, his wonderful wife Shalise Steele-Young and a host of notable pastors and other dignitaries. Below is an exert from my reflections on Ivory and his passion for the architecture profession.
“Ivory was the full embodiment of what we call a “Citizen Architect”. A term that refers to the movie – “Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio” and is often used for architects who use their skill set to benefit the greater society at large.
During my time on the American Institute of Architects Atlanta board, Ivory served as the Public Director, a position developed to be a liaison between local architects and the public sector on efforts that serve the greater good of the city. I have personally worked with Ivory on several efforts in my roles with the National Organization of Minority Architects as the Atlanta Chapter President, National South Region VP and now National Treasurer-Elect. He participated in our 50th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. March on Washington Diversity Panel in 2013; presented at several member General Body Meetings where he promoted his vision for the Westside and public advocacy along side other public servants like the late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner. In 2017 he worked with us to help minority architects tackle the challenge of a “Bigger and More Equitable Atlanta” on a panel alongside City of Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane.
I also worked with Ivory to mentor the next generation of Georgia youth in architecture, engineering and construction with my non-profit the Atlanta Center for Creative Inquiry. He gave a resounding message to our students as the guest speaker at the graduation in 2012
However, it is when I started working at the City of Atlanta as the Program Management Officer for Renew Atlanta Bond that I really got to see Ivory’s design passion and love of our city up close. We worked together day to day to translate his passion into transformative municipal projects for the underserved in his district. My fondest memory of Ivory happened just recently at the ribbon cutting for the new park at Joseph E. Boone and West Lake in Southwest Atlanta. He beamed as he saw the fulfillment of a long-time dream to bring this new amenity to his district. So much so that he forced us all to join a Soul Train line as we danced and sang after the ceremony. But that was Ivory, showing the loving spirit he gave to his community, his family, his friends, and even those who did not know him.
Ivory, your work as an “citizen architect” will be a lasting legacy for years to come not only for District 3 but the entire City of Atlanta. As a fellow architect, I pledge to continue your work and try to live up the high bar of caring for the least of these that you have set for us.”
Ivory, be in everlasting love with God, and may your family receive comfort and peace. We will miss you and you will be ever in our hearts.