AIA Houston President Melvalean McLemore On The Lack Of Black Women In Architecture And How To Change That


Melvalean McLemore, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP

By Maddy McCarty, Houston 

When Melvalean McLemore earned her license to practice architecture in 2016, she was only the 16th Black woman in Texas to do so.

McLemore became the first Black woman president of the American Institute of Architects Houston chapter late last year, earning a proclamation from Houston City Council for her achievements. While being first is exciting, McLemore said it was a bittersweet feeling.

“It’s a little bit sad to hear that someone is the first of anything in 2023, 2024,” McLemore said. 

McLemore is Texas studio design leader and project manager at Moody Nolan, the largest Black-owned architectural firm in the U.S. with 12 offices nationally. She has worked on numerous education projects, including the Texas Southern University Library Learning Center and the new Texas Southern University Transformation Complex, as well as commercial projects such as the Greentown Lab in Houston’s Ion District. 

Greentown Lab is the largest climate tech startup incubator in North America, allowing startups, corporates, investors and policymakers to come together. McLemore served as the owner’s representative on the project. 

McLemore sat down with Bisnow to chat about how she fell into architecture, the projects she is passionate about and her intentions to get more Black women into the industry.