Hilyard Robinson

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Hilyard R. Robinson
Born 1899
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died June 29, 1986
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Architect

Langston Terrace

Ralph Bunche House

Hilyard R. Robinson was a renowned African-American modernist architect known for his work in designing public housing.


A native Washingtonian, Robinson studied at the prestigious M Street High School, Philadelphia's School of Industrial Design, the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture and the University of Berlin. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in architecture from Columbia University. In 1924 he joined the faculty of Howard University's School of Architecture. Interested in housing design that followed the social and aesthetic principles of modernism, Robinson traveled widely through Europe and conferred with Modernist architects including Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Robinson once commented that "[T]he wrecked continent [of Europe]…serve[d] as a laboratory" for future projects that he would build on behalf of African America. He was also a member of the International Housing Association of Frankfurt, Germany and the Regional Planning Association of America.

Public Housing

Robinson's significant buildings include the Langston Terrace Dwellings, built with the architect Paul Williams in 1936. Considered the first public housing project for African Americans, the project was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1987. Other housing projects he designed include Cedar Gardens in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC and other housing projects in Baltimore, MD, Lyons Homes, Sparrow's Point, MD, Hampton, Virginia and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Although primarily known for his design of public housing projects, Robinson designed a number of residences for fellow faculty members at Howard University, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche and Rayford Logan. Both residences are located in the historic Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. The Ralph Bunche House completed in 1941 is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other significant projects include the Tuskegee Army Air Field for the Tuskegee Airmen. Robinson also built many educational buildings including Slowe Hall and Cramton Auditorium at Howard University in Washington, DC and buildings at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, Jarvis Christian College in Jarvis, Texas, and Livingston College in Salisbury, New Jersey.

Robinson is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[1]


As a long-time professor of Architecture at Howard University, Robinson influenced many architects, including Ralph Vaughn and Paul Revere Williams.

Robinson was married to his wife Helen. He is buried at National Harmony Memorial Park in Landover, Maryland.

The Helena and Hilyard Robinson Auditorium at Howard University is named after the architect and his wife.

Timeline of works[edit]

All dates refer to the year work commenced

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mu Lambda chapter brothers

"The Wrecked Continent of Europe as Laboratory for Hilyard R. Robinson: Toward a History of African American Modernism in the United States and Abroad" by Kelly Quinn

External links[edit]