North Carolina architect Phil Freelon, nationally known for designs that celebrate art, beauty and human achievement, even in the most utilitarian spaces, has died, according to a report in The News & Observer in Raleigh.
The North Star Church of the Arts, which Freelon and his wife Nnenna founded, confirmed his passing.
Freelon, 66, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in March 2016, six months ahead of the opening of one of his crowning achievements, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, The News & Observer previously reported.
Freelon believed that architecture is art, and that all buildings — and all the people who use them — deserve good design. His work demonstrated that belief, whether it manifested as an elementary school library, an airport parking deck or a national museum.
“This is a great loss,” said Michael Stevenson, who Freelon taught at North Carolina State University in the 1980s and who became a colleague at Freelon’s firm several years ago. “He understood the value of architecture as design, having a value to people, to all races and income levels. They all deserve to have good design.