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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Albert Irvin Cassell"

Was a prominent mid twentieth century African-American  Architect in Washington,D.C., whose works work shaped many academic communities in the United States.He designed buildings for Howard University in Washington D.C.,Morgan State University in Richmond.He also designed and built civil structures for the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia.He born in Towson,Maryland the third child of Albert Truman Cassell and Charlotte Cassell.His father was a coal truck driver and his mother aka "Lottie"was a laundress.Albert began his education in the segregated Baltimore public school system,but moved to New York in 1909 where he began attending Douglass High School,he studied drafting under Ralph Victor Cook.With Ralph assistance,Albert was admitted to the Cornell University architecture program in 1915.After completing two years at Cornell,his studies were interrupted in the U.S. Army in World War 1.He served in France,but not in combat,and was honorably discharged in 1919 as a second lieutenant in the 351st Heavy Field Artillery Regiment.In 1919 Albert was awarded his degree from Cornell University,and began his career working with architect William A Hazel.In 1920, Albert joined in the Architecture Department of Howard University as assistant professor.Just two years later, in 1922,He had become University Architect and head of the Architecture Department at Howard.Albert worked at Howard University for eighteen years, serving as an instructor,land  manager,surveyor,and architect.His vision and work helped shape the campus through his "Twenty Year Plan",through which he designed numerous campus buildings.His most important design at Howard was the founders Library,a building which evoked both the Georgian architecture revival style and independence Hall in Philadelphia.This building would become educational symbol for the university.While at Howard, Albert also designed buildings for other institutional clients.His work included buildings at Virginia Union University,Provident Hospital in Baltimore,various Masonic temples, as well as smaller works for select commerical and residential clients.Following his time at Howard University,he went on to design several buildings for Morgan State University in Baltimore.In his later years he joined with other African-American to form the firm of Cassell,Gray and Sutton.He went on to work for several other large clients such as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the government of the District of Columbia.As his final project,Albert sought to develop Chesapeake Heights on the Bay,a 520-acre summer resort community for African-Americans.The project was to feature houses,a motel,shopping centers,a pier,a marina, beaches,and a clubhouse fronting the Chesapeake Bay.Roads and a few homes were built by 1969,but the project ended with Albert death in the same year.

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