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ACLA Honors Paul Williams’ Legacy By Connecting Local Youth To Careers In Design

The Los Angeles Trade Tech campus was brimming with excitement and possibilities on April 2nd, as Architecture for Community Los Angeles (ACLA) held the inaugural Paul Revere Williams Day.  

Featuring interactive exhibitions, activity booths, keynote speakers and 1-on-1 sessions, the block party-style event connected local students with architects, engineers, contractors, and industry associations.

Hosted by ACLA’s Design By Diversity (DxD) committee, the interactive format not only helped local youth learn about new career pathways but created an opportunity for them to engage with dozens of diverse professionals.

“The whole purpose of coming together and bringing all these different groups of people together is to do two things – one is to inspire and the other is to create connections,” shared Jessica Orlando, the visionary behind Paul Revere Williams Day.  

An architect herself, Orlando said she was motivated by the events that unfolded in 2020 to begin thinking about ways she could personally contribute.

After spending the last eighteen months working with a small group of volunteers, Jessica appeared overwhelmed by the day’s event.

“Honestly, the amount of enthusiasm from everyone…you can see it here today!” Orlando gushed as she looked across the patio at the high school students navigating endless rows of exhibition booths.

By leveraging relationships within the DxD network, Orlando and her team were able to reach both students and professionals from across the community. 

“My film production teacher wanted us to get out here because we’ve always been talking about working on set and definitely architecture goes into that,” said Nailah Porter, a senior at Compton High School. With graduation just a few months away, Porter hopes to finalize her plans for the next chapter soon.  “Having connections under your belt is really helpful and I would like to have a few emails, so I got a few of those today.” 

Another senior at Compton High School, Ty’lani Lloyd, said that her physics teacher recommended that she attend the event. 

“I have had an interest in interior design for a while so I’m here just to come out and to talk to schools that I have interest in,” she said. “We’re talking to people face-to-face, so you see how they feel about what they do and the energy they bring towards the school they represent.”

Paul R. Williams Legacy

Intentional about honoring those who paved the way, the organization’s decision to choose the iconic Paul Revere William to serve as the Block Party’s namesake, was as practical as it was necessary.

The first African-American to become a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Williams designed more than 3,000 structures during an illustrious career that spanned almost 60 years. 

Known as the architect to the stars, Williams quite literally created the look and feel of Los Angeles. In the process, the USC graduate shattered barriers and created a path forward for countless Black architects.