October 05, 2023

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

Managing Editor


Seeking to attract Black youth to study architecture, the Paul R. Williams Collection created the Paul R. Williams Scholarship and Education Fund to inspire and support young people pursuing a career in this field.

As part of its efforts, the nonprofit organization will host an inaugural fundraising gala on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which partnered with the fund to host the dinner. In the 1940s, Williams completed a major renovation for the landmark complex including the design of the iconic signage.  Proceeds from the 

event will provide financial aid to students at seven HBCUs – Historically Black Colleges and Universities – and at USC.

Explaining the impetus for launching the initiative, Executive Director Karen Hudson said that the fund was named for legendary architect Paul R. Williams, FAIA, who was also her grandfather and the designer of more than 3,000 structures during his five-decade career.  Williams became known as the “architect to the stars,” while also building affordable housing and public projects.

“This year marks 100 years since Paul Williams became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects, and to date, they only have 2% membership of Black licensed architects,” said Hudson. “This effort is more than a tribute to my grandfather and other trailblazers in the field, it is a call to action.”


The Paul R. Williams Scholarship and Education Fund include a K-12 component to acquaint students to career paths with the field of architecture. In addition, the fund will offer mentoring and financial support to students pursuing professional licensing and scholarships to fourth and fifth-year architecture students enrolled at one of the seven HBCUs offering an accredited architecture program.  USC architecture students will be eligible to apply for the scholarship as well since the university is Williams’ alma mater.

“We feel, as a family and as a community, we have to make a difference because architecture, basically, fits our everyday lives. It's not just beautiful homes or hotels.

It's transportation at your grocery storage, your cleaners, it's your department store, the cities we live in and how we live our life and build life,” noted Hudson. 

“My grandfather was pretty special, so we are just trying to use his legacy to make us realize that for all our blessings, we have to give back. We want all the young kids to know that being an architect is a viable option for them.”

To learn more, visit thepaulrwilliamscollection.com or follow on Instagram: paulrwilliamscollection.

Category: News