The Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards

“I’ve learned that if you build something beautiful, people will respect it.” 
Phil Freelon, NOMAC, FAIA 

One of the benefits of NOMA membership is access to prestigious professional and student awards to honor and recognize outstanding work in the industry. The awards are presented annually at the NOMA Conference each fall.  Specific submission and nomination details for those will be shared with members when awards open in the spring/summer. Learn more about each award below, and please direct questions to

The Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards recognizes outstanding design work from both NOMA individual designers and design teams in several categories.  With a legacy of recognizing outstanding architectural design work, NOMA renamed the decades-old prestigious design awards in honor of Phil Freelon’s notable career in 2019, recognizing him as one of the most influential African American architects of our time.  

Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards logo - an abstraction of facade elements, five simple lines cutting across a deep beige field

Submissions to the NOMA Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards must be made by registered architects who are current NOMA members as of the submission deadline. Entries may include new construction, rehabilitation, restorations, additions, adaptive reuse, or conceptual work in the following award categories: Vision; Built; Historic Preservation, Restoration and Renovation; Unbuilt; and Small Projects.  

About Phil Freelon, NOMAC, FAIA

A lifelong NOMA member and advocate, Phil Freelon, NOMAC, FAIA, was one of the principal architects for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the Mall in Washington, D.C. He led national projects that recognized and celebrated the African American experience across the U.S., including Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights; San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora; and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. He founded The Freelon Group, later acquired by Perkins & Will, where he served as design director until 2019. Former President Barack Obama appointed him to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 2011. Freelon was designated “America’s Humanitarian Architect,” and named Fast Company’s 2017 Architect of The Year.  Freelon passed away July 9, 2019.