architecturE | CIVIC DESIGN | master planning
about. RENEE KEMP-ROTAN. URBAN DESIGNER. MASTER PLANNER
First African American woman to graduate Syracuse University, B. ARCH.; studied two years at Architectural Association, London England (Diploma School RIBA II) with design masters ARCHIGRAM and PAUL OLIVER (cultural anthropologist); graduated Columbia University NYC, Masters Urban/Regional Planning, Minor International Development; worked: NYC with RAQUEL RAMATI Urban Design Group, NYC; ; Sulton/Campbell + Glave, Newman, Anderson Architects; Directed, Design Demonstrations and National Design Competitions, National Endowment for the Arts; Design, Practice Education Division, AIA/HQ, DC; Taught at Howard University (Founder/Editor STONE Magazine); Parsons School of Design, New School Social Research; Georgia Tech, Advanced Graduate Design Studio; served as Principal, Urban Designer, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission; Principal Planner, Corporation for Olympic Development Atlanta (Philips Arena, Olympic Park + 8 Olympic Neighborhood Plans); Director, Economic Development; Chief, Urban Design/Development (Atlanta Aquarium + Auburn Avenue Revitalization)ATL; Directed Capital Projects; Grants and Special Projects, Office of the Mayor: Directed Master Plan for Railroad Reservation Park; Crossplex Sports Facility; Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail and National Endowment for the Arts, SPARK@SPARK Master Plan for a new arts tech hub for millennials and the underserved SLoss National Landmark Site, Birmingham, AL.
Renee, as urban design/civic development activist, often speaks publicly on : Cities, Race + Privilege; Design + Social Impact; Design, Cultural Heritage; Spirit of Place and Women in Architecture (i.e., Cairo University, Harvard University, MIT, Columbia University, Howard University, University Michigan, City College, Florida A+M, Tuskegee, Corcoran Museum and the Smithsonian. She has published articles for the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments, Berkley Press; AIA Memo; NOMA Magazine; served as contributing editor, Encyclopedia of Vernacular World Architecture, Paul Oliver (Royal Institute of British Architects/ History Book Award) and worked directly with JACQUELINE ONASSIS, Editor, Doubleday Books (How to Save Your Own Street).
RKR has "traveled the world, served ten mayors, and lived in 1000 places"; written treatises on the preservation of African mud-based architecture; curated major exhibitions on Alabama Segregation and South African Apartheid with 100 photographs by icons Spider Martin and Peter Magubane; developed The Haiti Culture Code to identify African Diaspora disasters and donor cultural bias; initiated BDNN/Black Design News Network with Nigerian Designer Atim Oton; written three children's books and one opera called "WILL: A Novel Opera Ballet on Self Determination and the Persecution of Creative Genius". Renee believes in "design as a method of inquiry" and therefore has been involved in the design of nearly every building type imaginable: parks, schools, trails, hotels, museums, arenas, stadiums, theaters, housing, and new towns.
An internationally regarded urban designer, Kemp-Rotan's works are now included in The African American National Biography, edited by Dr. Henry Louis Gates/Harvard University (WEB Dubose School of Research) and archived in the African American Archives, Oxford University, England. RKR was nominated by three American Institute of Architects Presidents to serve on the National Diversity and Inclusion Council (Governance, Chair). Renee, as long standing member of AIA and NOMA, (National Organization of Minority Architects) was featured in ARCHITECTURE Magazine, December 2016 and NOMA Magazine, Fall 2017. She recently re-ignited StudioRotan, her civic design firm, established 1988. As DC native, Renee attended DC Public Schools, won the AIA/Ford Foundation Minority Scholarship Award to Syracuse and since has travelled the world to 33 countries. She is the mother of sons: Aaron/US Marine and Tai/Morehouse; and grandmother to four: Jarred; twins, Josh and Jake and namesake, Baby Renee.