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Paul R. Williams


Paul R. Williams created one of Los Angeles’ most renowned landmarks, the Theme Building, which looks like a flying saucer that landed in the center of Los Angeles International Airport. Williams, who studied architectural engineering from 1916 to 1919 at the University of Southern California and in 1923 became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects, was an architectural marvel at a time when Los Angeles was a segregated city. While wealthy white people would hire him to design their homes, they didn’t want to sit next to him, a Black man, to review his blueprints. So Williams perfected the skill of rendering drawings upside down enabling white clients to sit across from him and view his drafts right-side up. Williams became an awarded and highly sought-after architect throughout Los Angeles and the nation. His private and public architecture can still be seen throughout Los Angeles, including the tony Flintridge Estates near Pasadena, the Baird/Stewart/Garza House, Glendale; The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles Superior Court, Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills and much more. This hoodie design pays homage to Williams’ architectural capabilities via a view of the Theme Building’s blueprint.


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