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When the thousands of people heading to Washington, D.C. this fall to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, some might not know that a Black woman helped design the sprawling structure. Zena Howard took her dreams of becoming an architect as a young girl and is now responsible for bringing forth which might become one of the most significant halls of Black history of culture of all time.

In a recent profile, Howard shared that when she was around seven or eight years of age, she learned what an architect was by way of watching the popular The Brady Bunch television series. Howard later entered the University of Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s in architecture.

Among Howard’s other designs, such as the Anacostia Public Library in Washington, D.C., and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, she appears most proud of her work on the Smithsonian project.

Howard, one of the few Black women in her profession, works alongside the American Institute of Architects to promote a gender diversity imitative.  At the firm where she works, Perkins+Wills in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, she is part of an inclusion and diversity committee. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional and is a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

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The Ten Most Interesting Little Known Black History Facts
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(Photo source: Perkins and Will)