Architect Philip Freelon passed away today after a long fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, the degenerative neurological condition also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. A native of Philadelphia and grandson of Impressionist painter Allan Randall Freelon Sr., Freelon studied architecture as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University and as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a 1990 Loeb Fellow, and in the same year founded his own firm, The Freelon Group, in Durham, N.C. Freelon merged his firm with Perkins+Will in 2014, staying on to run the North Carolina office. In his honor, Perkins+Will launched The Philip Freelon Fellowship Fund for African American and minority students, at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 2016.

Freelon's portfolio includes the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, N.C., the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, which he designed in collaboration with David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, and the late Max Bond. He is survived by his wife Nnenna Freelon, a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, and three children.

Last year, the couple founded the Northstar Church of the Arts in Durham, in a 1930 Gothic-style church originally designed for a deaf congregation, according to Open Durham. The Freelon family has posted a statement on the Northstar website, which reads in part, "In lieu of flowers, Phil has asked that those who want to honor his legacy become sustaining donors of Northstar Church of the Arts, so that the same creative and spiritual energies that nurtured him throughout his life may positively impact others, especially in his adopted home of Durham, North Carolina. The Freelon family is planning a memorial service this fall. Details are forthcoming." Son Pierce Freelon is artistic director at Northstar.

AIA has released the following statement:

“We are saddened to learn of the loss of notable architect Phil Freelon, FAIA,” said AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Phil was a trailblazer in the architecture community and a pioneer of public spaces. His contributions to the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, notable projects in communities across the United States as well as his positive influence on the profession and our society will be felt for years to come.”

“Phil has left a legacy of service to the AIA and its members,” said AIA 2019 President William Bates, FAIA. “He has served as a great mentor and role model for many and was a kind and loving friend to all who knew him. His memory will forever be imprinted in the significant designs he brought to the world. He will be greatly missed.”

This article has been updated to include the AIA and Freelon family statements, and to reflect the active year of his Loeb Fellowship.