NOMA Invites Members, Allied Professionals to Come Home to Conference for Keynotes, Networking, and Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 27, 2021

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) announced today that its national annual conference, NOMA HOMECOMING: DETROIT 50, will be held online again this year. The conference, held Oct. 20-23, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of NOMA’s founding. NOMA was founded by 12 Black architects in 1971, at the AIA Convention in Detroit. While the NOMA conference sessions will be online, NOMA will pay homage to the founding by hosting a limited-attendance in-person gala in Detroit, a true homecoming for NOMA members. The virtual conference will bring together architects, allied professionals, emerging professionals, and students to reflect on NOMA’s history, current impact on shaping the architectural industry and chart the course for its next 50 years. All virtual conference programming will be hosted in the online platform including: opening keynote panel at the opening of the SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th exhibition; seminars; the vendor expo; and the Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition.

Paola Moya Speaking at the 2014 NOMA Conference in Philadelphia
Paola Moya speaking at the 2014 conference. The principal of Moya Design Partners will be returning as a keynote speaker this year.

“NOMA’s 50th anniversary is a time to celebrate the five decades of innovation, strength, service, and hard work that brought us to this moment,” said Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, NOMA President and Gensler Senior Associate Architect and Urban Designer. “The profession is at an inflection point and is better at understanding the needs and concerns of the people and communities we serve. We will use this year’s conference as an opportunity to learn from our past while planning for the future, through a combination of in-person and online events as we celebrate and, commemorate NOMA’s rich legacy and success.

The NOMA in-person gala weekend events will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center with a maximum registration capacity of 400. The hotel will provide COVID safety guidelines to all guests. NOMA online conference keynotes and sessions will be hosted live and in-person; all keynotes will be streamed online. Gala registration is first-come, first-served for NOMA members. Conference and gala registration is available online.


NOMA will host a virtual broadcast and in-person keynote panel and exhibition opening of the SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th exhibition opening at the Detroit Historical Museum during the NOMA 50th Anniversary Gala Weekend and 49th Annual Virtual Conference and Expo. SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th celebrates the professional achievements of a selection of diverse designers that represent the NOMA membership and the founding of the organization in Detroit. The exhibition will be on display in Detroit from October 20-January 9, 2022.

The live keynote panel begins with welcome remarks by NOMA President Jason Pugh. The panel, moderated by Detroit-based architect Imani Day, AIA, will reflect on the legacy of NOMA and diverse designers within the field of architecture and design as we look to the next era in the profession. Panelists include: Rod Hemni, FAIA, LEED AP, NOMA HKIT Architects Design Director; Maya Madison, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Think Wilder Architecture Project Manager; Curt Moody, FAIA, NOMAC, Moody Nolan Founder and Board Chair; and Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA, Moya Architects CEO and Founder.

The exhibition was curated by Pascale Sablan FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP. Sablan is the NOMA President-Elect (2023-2024), an Associate at Adjaye Associates Architects, and Founder & Executive Director of Beyond the Built Environment LLC. The exhibition was funded by the Graham Foundation.


The NOMA conference is organized by NOMA national staff and volunteers, as well as the NOMA Detroit chapter. Over fifty educational sessions are offered, featuring a variety of areas of interest for all experience levels and disciplines in the diverse field of architecture. Designers and researchers, urbanism, landscape design, and urban planning submitted proposals for the development of initiatives and design works that make a meaningful contribution to the central theme of the conference. Sessions offer continuing education credits approved by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Conference seminar tracks include:

  • DESIGN: The track will focus on new, award-winning and legacy design projects executed by NOMA members and other professionals that express innovative design strategies in sustainability, material usage and/or technical expertise that was used in an innovative manner. Projects that have had a positive impact on the community that they serve, along with LEED, BREEAM, Living Building Challenge and WELLS buildings, will be considered a part of this track.
  • TECHNICAL: The track will focus on new products and design techniques that introduce and review technical skills, materials, and systems that span all skill levels.
  • COMMUNITY & JUSTICE: The track will focus on public and civic projects that benefit communities through social and environmental justice and social responsibility. Topics that are tailored towards housing discrimination, education, home equity, environmental justice, sustainable design, etc. will be considered.
  • BUSINESS: The track of seminars will be geared toward starting a firm, marketing, firm growth, investing in the future, and succession planning. Seminars that discuss access to capital, recruitment strategies, purchasing, and policies that positively impact people working in the built environment will be considered. This track will also include the development of emerging professionals – including but not limited to internships, ARE, AXP, mentorship, and aid in career growth.
  • LEGACY/HOMECOMING: NOMA was founded in Detroit 50 years ago. This track includes seminars that highlight the history and accomplishments of NOMA from its inception to current day and beyond.
  • There is a lot of talk about Detroit’s “comeback” and Renaissance, but the truth is DETROIT NEVER LEFT. We look to recognize and celebrate those that have remained through the many evolutions of Detroit and its landscape over the last half-century. The seminars will honor the Detroiters who organized, built, and empowered through design.


The welcome video, produced in partnership with Detroit developer Bedrock, invites all NOMA members over the years to return to Detroit to celebrate NOMA’s milestones: decades of the award-winning work highlighted in the Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards; Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition; breaking 2,000 members; increased student chapters; the NOMA Foundation Fellowship; and corporate membership through the NOMA President’s Circle.

“NOMA’s 50th anniversary and Detroit Homecoming is a time to celebrate, reflect on what we’ve done, but look to the future,” said NOMA Executive Director Tiffany Brown, Assoc. AIA, MBA, NOMA. “We have so much more to accomplish. We hope so many more will join us as NOMA members and come to the event, whether in-person or online, to plan for a future in architecture rich in diversity, thought, expertise and perspective.”

NOMA’s 50th conference sponsors includes partners AIA and NCARB, as well as organizations including Bedrock, Stantec, Columbia University, Gensler, HOK, and Perkins & Will.