J. Max Bond, Jr., Inspirational and Visionary

(1935-2009)

African-American Architect J. Max Bond, smiling, middle-aged, dark mustache, suit and tie
American Architect J. Max Bond. Photo by Anthony Barboza/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

In addition to inspiring other minority architects, J. Max Bond, Jr. will be long remembered for his role in developing plans for the National 9/11 Museum in New York City and working with a young Michael Arad to realize the youthful architect's vision for the WTC Memorial area.

Background:

Born: July 17, 1935 in Louisville, Kentucky

Died: February 18, 2009 in New York City
(Read obituary in The New York Times)

Education:

  • 1955: Harvard University: Bachelor’s degree
  • 1958: Harvard Graduate School of Design, Master’s degree
  • 1958: Fulbright Scholarship—in Paris at Le Corbusier studio
  • 1960s: Four years in Ghana, after that country's independence from British rule

Major Projects:

  • Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama
  • Martin Luther King Jr. crypt and memorial in Atlanta, Georgia
  • A controversial modernist expansion of the Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan
  • The Bolgatanga Regional Library in Ghana, which provided a unique roof design that provided natural ventilation (Read More).
  • With his firm, Davis Brody Bond Aedas, realized below-ground plans for the September 11 Memorial Museum

Teaching:

  • Columbia University
  • Served as dean for the school of architecture at the City University of New York

Associations:

  • Worked with André Wogenscky in France
  • Worked at Gruzen & Partners and Pedersen & Tilney in New York
  • Established the Architect's Renewal Committee of Harlem
  • Co-founded the firm of Ryder Bond and Associates. In 1990, this firm merged with Davis Brody & Associates

Select Awards:

  • 1987: AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award
  • 1995: Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA)
  • 1996: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    More About J. Max Bond, Jr.:

    When J. Max Bond, Jr. was a student at Harvard, racists burned a cross outside his dormitory. Concerned, a white professor at the University advised Bond to abandon his dream of becoming an architect. Years later, in an interview for the Washington Post, Bond recalled his professor saying, "There have never been any famous, prominent black architects... You'd be wise to choose another profession."

    Fortunately, Bond had spent a summer In Los Angeles working for African-American architect Paul Williams, and he knew that he could overcome racial stereotypes.

    After graduating from Harvard, Bond designed many office buildings, libraries, and university research facilities in the United States. He worked on buildings designed by the Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier, and also designed some buildings in Ghana and Zimbabwe. He became an inspiration to young minorities in his architecture classes at Columbia and City University. At his death, Bond was living north of 155th Street in New York City at The Grinnell, a 1911 Beaux Arts apartment building designed by Schwartz and Gross. Bond's cousin was civil rights leader Julian Bond (1940-2015).

    Source in Part: Bond, J. Max(1935–) - Architect, educator, Roots in an Educated Family, Chronology