Designing Victory: The Architect Who Dared, Dreamed, and Achieved International Acclaim

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by Robert P. Madison with Carlo Wolff,

This is a compelling memoir by Robert P. Madison: an architect, entrepreneur, and civic leader. Born the grandson of slaves in Cleveland, Ohio in 1923, he studied architecture at Howard University before serving in Italy in World War II. As a proud member of the historic Buffalo Soldiers, 2nd Lt. Madison returned to civilian life in 1946 to resume his education. But his application for admittance to the School of Architecture at Western Reserve University in Cleveland was summarily denied. The stated reason? He was black. A few days later, Madison returned in full dress uniform, complete with the Purple Heart awarded to him as a result of battlefield wounds sustained in Italy. Shamed and under duress, the university grudgingly admitted Madison. Still, school administrators taunted Madison: “You will never work as an architect.” How wrong they were. Madison would earn a B.A. in architecture from Western Reserve University, an M.A. in architecture from Harvard University, study under with Walter Gropius, and complete additional studies as a Fulbright Scholar at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In 1954, Madison opened the first African American architectural firm in Ohio, and only the tenth in the country. Just a few of the many projects by his firm include the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, the Engineering & Nuclear Facility at Tuskegee Institute, the Stokes wing and the Cleveland main library renovation, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Reformer of urban development in the 1960s and architectural ambassador to China in the 1970s, Madison learned along the way that the halls of academe are not the only places to learn about life. Fully illustrated with photos, documents and project renderings, this is Robert Madison’s story, as only he can tell it.

288 pages

Published 2019