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Praise for Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee

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Architectural historian Ellen Weiss has painstakingly developed a long-overdue and well-documented historical account of Robert R. Taylor, a true American architectural pioneer. She skillfully traces his leadership in the design and evolution of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Her book provides a wealth of little-known factual information about Taylor and a scholarly historical analysis of his many contributions in architectural education and professional practice. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in architecture and a certain reference for every architecture student.
Ellen Weiss breaks important new ground in her remarkable monograph on Robert R. Taylor. This volume is by far the most detailed account we have of an African American architect. Weiss vividly conveys the immense challenges faced by black architects and professionals of every kind, especially during the rise of Jim Crow and how Taylor’s perseverance overcame odds that must often have seemed insurmountable at times. Along the way we get myriad insights on architectural education, architect-client relationships, and the development of a major institution of higher learning. Let us hope that this pioneering study inspires other scholars to pursue a realm of architectural and cultural history that has been, until now, sorely neglected.
Ellen Weiss’s elegantly written book is a lucid study of Robert R. Taylor’s work for the educator Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute from 1892 to 1932. Coupled with Washington’s aesthetic activism, Taylor's architectural vision created an identity for the Tuskegee campus that appeared to transcend the oppression of the Jim Crow era and transform a modest normal school into an expression of Washington’s profound belief in a future of racial parity. Weiss deftly interweaves the story of the Tuskegee campus with an examination of Taylor's pedagogy and the plight of black architects in the early twentieth century.
Weiss is a thorough researcher and a graceful writer who nicely balances Taylor’s personal and professional lives.
Scholars of architecture as well as of American history, specifically race relations, will find much to occupy their interest in this important book
The history of the buildings and Washington's hopes and plans for the campus make for compelling reading.
Riveting and meticulously researched.
An engaging social history of the people as well as the buildings of the early 20th century in the South. The reader will gain an appreciation for both the challenges and the achievements of African American professionals through this compelling document, written in language easily accessible to the layperson.
Taylor was America's first professionally trained African-American architect, yet Weiss's book is his first full-length biography. This is a contribution long overdue. Aimed primarily at an audience of architects, architecture lovers and preservationists, Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee carefully roots Taylor in his place and time. It also adds an important footnote to Wilmington [NC] history and to our understanding of the Jim Crow era.
Weiss, a retired professor of architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, places Taylor's work in the broader context of architectural trends of the period and provides a thorough inventory of his campus work. This well-researched and extensively illustrated work is must reading for those seeking insights into the emergence of African American professionals at the beginning of the 20th century.