‘Hip-Hop Architect’ Michael Ford Leaves Firm, Hopes to Help Diversify Profession

Image of Michael Ford at NOMA Conference, 2019
Michael Ford at the Chicago 2019 NOMA Conference

by Scott Girard, Madison.com

Amid a nationwide reckoning over systemic racism, a well-known Madison architectural designer is leaving his firm after reflecting on the racial disparities in the industry.

Michael Ford, known as the “Hip-Hop Architect” who has run local camps to introduce black and brown children to the field, submitted his resignation to SmithGroup Monday, hoping to commit more of his time to diversifying the architectural industry, especially within the leadership structure.

“The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many before them provided an opportunity for all of us to question how our morals and values are practiced in our daily lives, including our work as designers and architects,” Ford wrote in his resignation letter, which he provided to the Cap Times. “My assessment of my own convictions cannot allow me to continue to pour so much energy into the practice of architecture knowing the systems in this profession, and more specifically this firm, mirror that of our nation.”