Zena Howard Designed the New African American History Museum in D.C.

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Soon the National Museum of African American History and Culture will open in Washington, D.C. this will mark a watershed moment for the capitol. While smaller, regional institutions to commemorate the contributions of the African Diaspora in the United States exist around the country, the new facade, in walking distance of the Washington Monument, is, represents the recognition of the often ignored, immeasurably influential part of American History.

Zena Howard is the woman behind the museum's design. An architect with more than a quarter century of experience, Howard has also worked on the Anacostia Public Library in D.C. and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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NMAAHC under construction Photo: Joanne S. Walton/Biz Journal

Howard used her Lead in Energy and Environment Design certification to ensure the building was constructed with an eye on sustainability.

She explained to Curbed how fortunate she feels to be involved in the project.

"Sometimes, when I come [to the building site] I like to walk the project bottom to top at night. Just this past Thursday, I took three hours...and I got to the roof of the little balcony, the fifth floor that overlooks the Washington Monument at one end and the Capitol at the other. I was just thinking, 'This is phenomenal. It's phenomenal and fabulous.'

And to me, as an African American, just realizing that this has actually come to be, that there's an actual National Museum for African American History and Culture on the Mall of Washington, D.C., and this museum should have happened years and years ago, but the realization that finally in America we're at a place where we can accept it ... It's one of the most prominent sites on the Mall. It's not somewhere tucked away.

This beautiful design, I feel blessed really, just very proud and blessed as an African American that we're here in this place in 2016, opening a museum like this."

Header Photo: Michelle Goldchain