The stunning mansions that beautify the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, are the inspiration and designs of the legendary architect Paul R. Williams. According to APE-MPE, he is the first African-American and pioneering designer of many of Los Angeles’s most iconic buildings, including parts of the International Airport, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the homes of Frank Sinatra, Carey Grant and L’Or. nicknamed the “Architect of the Stars”.
But apart from his enviable 50-year career in the design of 3,000 celebrity buildings and residences, Paul R. Williams went down in history as a minority advocate and voice at a time when racial discrimination was rampant in the United States, paving the way. with his example for any non-white who followed in his footsteps. “The power of example is strong,” Williams wrote in 1937 in I Am a Negro. “A few decades ago, non-whites had no examples to motivate them. “But now, seeing men and women of the same color improve their condition, they are beginning to realize that they – or their children – can do the same.”
He was born on February 18, 1894, to a middle-class family in Memphis. He lost both his parents to tuberculosis at the age of 4 and was sent to foster families until he was adopted. After studying at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and the Beaux-Arts Design Institute in New York, he worked as a landscape architect, and later earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Southern California. At the age of 27, he became a certified architect and opened his own office the following year. In 1923, he became the first African-American to be admitted to the American Institute of Architects. Williams, who served as an architect in the Navy during World War II, was known for his bizarre ability to design upside down.
He also used to have his hands behind his back, so that no customer would feel compelled to shake his own. Although he often accepted overt racism and marginalization, he never personally influenced him and never became an obstacle to his work. “I realized that I was being judged, not because of a lack of skills, but because of my color. “I went through successive stages of embarrassment, inarticulate protest, indignation and, finally, reconciliation,” he says. “As I grew older and thought more maturely, I found a motivation for personal fulfillment and an inspired challenge.
Without the desire to “show them”, I developed a strong desire to “show myself”. I wanted to prove that I, as a human being, deserve a place in the world. ” According to H&B, Williams himself shaped much of the modern urban landscape, leaving an indelible mark on the West Coast. His legacy – he died of diabetes in 1980 at the age of 85 – continues not only through the constructions he built, but also through those who continue his desire to help aspiring non-white creators and professionals achieve their dreams.