The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) recently announced the creation of the Phil Freelon Fellowship Fund, part of a wider $110-million-plus push (dubbed “Grounded Visionaries”) to improve and expand the GSD. The fund will provide financial aid to African Americans and other underrepresented groups.
Phil Freelon, the architect for whom the fellowship is named, called the fellowship’s establishment “an important step in broadening the GSD’s reach” at the announcement ceremony last week. “As the design profession continues to attract a more diverse talent base, this gift will provide students of color with financial assistance that could make pursuing an advanced degree at the GSD possible,” he said.
Freelon earned his Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a Loeb Fellow at the GSD from 1989-1990. He is still closely involved with the GSD as a lecturer and researcher. His firm, The Freelon Group, has won dozens of awards for designing museums, higher education spaces, and science and technology facilities, and was acquired by Perkins + Will in 2014, where Freelon now serves on the board and as managing and design director of the North Carolina office. His work includes the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Historic Emancipation Park in Houston, and the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
James G. Stockhard, Jr., former curator of the Loeb Fellowship, praised him as a role model for students at last week’s event. “He is the kind of leader—strong, clear, selfless, and principled—who helps the rest of us find the courage to join him in striving for the best we and our society can be. He asks us to be the best designers, the best colleagues, and the best citizens we can imagine,” he said.