South L.A. is where the Black culture shows its creativity and talents. Natives and transplants understand the potential the region has as they move to make it a more prosperous community for current and future generations. The building of Destination Crenshaw is designed to signal coming support and love for the community and one person leading the charge is architect Gabrielle Bullock.
“Destination Crenshaw is an outdoor cultural and art experience in South Los Angeles, along Crenshaw Boulevard,” said Bullock as she described the project. “This community is the oldest Black community west of the Mississippi and the heart of the Black community in Los Angeles. This project is to celebrate the contributions the Black community made in the past, present, and future.”
Bullock describes that the community leaders wanted the project to be unapologetically Black in their 10 pocket parks.
“The parks will have art done by Black artists with connections to Los Angeles, plus other amenities like urban design, celebration space for music and community events, and spoken word,” she said.
Bullock is a Bronx, NY, native who realized she wanted to be an architect at 10. Growing up, she noticed the poor conditions many Blacks and people of color were living in and decided she wanted to help her people live in a better community. Bullock became the second Black female to graduate from the architecture department of the Rhode Island School of Design. She became a key player for Perkins&Will success for over three decades, working in both its New York and Los Angeles studios, where she became the first African-American and the first woman to rise to the position of managing director.
Bullock has also created the firm’s Director of Global Diversity role, where she has combined her passion for architecture and social justice to effect positive change.
“I created this role because of the lack of diversity,” Bullock said, explaining the lack of women’s involvement in architecture. “I am one of less than 600 women in the country and part of the .2 percent worldwide. During my career, I realized how important cultural competence is, and how important representation for different cultures impacted people.”
Bullock continued her mission of pushing for diversity and inclusion at her firm by creating the justice equity inclusion program at her job, which teaches minorities how to be architects at her firm.
Her skills have also taken Bullock around the world. One thing she noticed while working in other countries is how building structures and the outlook in the neighborhood can affect society.
“When working in different places like Saudi Arabia, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and London, I noticed that architecture responds to the culture and the climate. When I was in Kalon a couple of years ago, the buildings were old and gave a gray times vibe, and when you looked at the people, they were very miserable.” Bullock said as she talked about the impact building can have on people. “Successful architecture is the response to the culture, the people, and the climate.”