Paul Revere Williams (1894–1980) achieved a number of firsts during his lifetime: He was the first African-American architect to practice west of the Mississippi. He was part of the first Los Angeles Planning Commission in 1920. Now, in addition to being the first African-American architect to become part of the AIA and the first elevated into its College of Fellows, Williams is the first African-American recipient of its gold medal—regarded as one of the profession’s highest honors. “Frank Sinatra wanted a bedroom; press a button and the doors open to the patio. Press another button and the bed rolls out into the patio.” Williams designed over 2,000 buildings during his career; he was known for his Hollywood mansions but also designed affordable housing, conceptual transportation systems, experimental structural systems, and more.
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