New exhibit at UDM shines a light on Michigan’s Black landscape architects and their untold stories

What’s happening: A new exhibition has opened on the University of Detroit Mercy campus, one that shines a spotlight on an underrepresented group in the world of architecture and beyond: Black landscape architects. The exhibition, “Their Untold Stories: Black Landscape Architects Michigan Connection,” comes as part of Detroit Month of Design, the month-long celebration of Detroit design and designers as programmed by Design Core.

What it is: The exhibition tells the story of Black landscape architects with connections to Michigan, reaching back as far as the 1800s and up to and including Black landscape architects that are working in Detroit and Michigan today. The exhibition features the architects’ biographies and their work, and was put together by Stephanie Onwenu, Public Interest Design Fellow with the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), and Charles Cross, Director of Landscape + Urban Design at the DCDC and Adjunct Professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.

The details: The exhibition is located in the Loranger Architecture Building on the McNichols Campus for University of Detroit Mercy, and is free and open to the public. It runs from Monday, Sept. 19, through Friday, Sept. 30, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Kofi Boone, FASLA, a native Detroiter and university faculty scholar in the department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at North Carolina State University, will serve as featured speaker on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

Registration is available online.

Why it’s important: “Learning about landscape architecture and learning about landscape architects is a way to not only expose younger students to the profession, but also to spread awareness that there are Black landscape architects out there,” Onwenu says. “Of the 26,000 landscape architects out there, only 2 percent are Black. So this is about spreading awareness of the profession and what we do, as well as celebrating those who are here with us and those who have paved the way for many of us today.”

Big picture: The exhibition, “Their Untold Stories: Black Landscape Architects Michigan Connection,” is just the beginning of Onwenu and Cross’s work together on the subject. The duo are currently looking for funding to expand upon their work, which could result in a book and additional projects.

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.