On November 28, the City of Houston recognized the historic election of Melvalean McLemore, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Texas Studio Design Leader and Project Manager at Moody Nolan, as the first Black female president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Houston chapter with a mayoral proclamation before City Council. The ceremony, led by Council Member David W. Robinson, FAIA, a leading advocate for Houston’s local architecture community and a licensed architect himself, declared November 28, 2023 Melvalean McLemore Day.

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition, especially from Council Member Robinson, who is also an architect and advocate for our local architecture community,” said McLemore. “As a native Houstonian, this means the world to me. Over the years, I was able to see my passion for the profession grow through collaboration –– nothing I have achieved over my career has been alone; I have been able to collaborate with amazing individuals throughout this city. I am proud that during my time as president, our board will truly look like a cross-section of the city in which we live.”

McLemore, who has been a member of the Moody Nolan Houston team for nearly five years, is one of the first 500 Black women licensed in the country and the 16th in Texas. She credits promoting the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a driving factor for her professional journey, having co-founded Women in Architecture (WiA) at AIA Houston Chapter, which catalyzed equity-centered committees throughout Texas. 

McLemore also co-chaired the Texas Society of Architect’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and the WiA Women of Color Steering Committee. She currently holds the role of Parliamentarian of Houston’s National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) chapter and is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ (NCARB) Continuing Education Committee. Additionally, McLemore co-created NOMA’s National HBCU Professional Development Program. With a goal of increasing the number of diverse architects in the profession, the program provides students with the opportunity to find mentors in participating professionals on behalf of AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable, including Moody Nolan.

“I am extremely impressed with Melvalean for her ambition and accomplishments to date,” said Council Member Robinson. “She has demonstrated unparalleled expertise as an architect for over 14 years, leading a diverse array of projects across sectors and exemplifying her commitment to architectural excellence.”

With 15 years of architectural experience, McLemore has helped Moody Nolan Houston successfully strategize, develop, compete for and win multiple projects, including Texas Southern University Library Learning Center, the new Texas Southern University Transformation Complex, and San Antonio ISD K8 MLK Academy for Arts Integration. She also worked on the Greentown Lab in Houston's Ion District, where she served as the owner's representative. 

Earlier this year, AIA Houston awarded McLemore with the Ben Brewer Young Architect Award, an honor that recognizes excellence in ability, exceptional work, and significant architectural contributions by architects in their first ten years of practice. In 2022, she also received the Texas Society of Architects (TxA)’s Early Career Professional Achievement in Honor of William W. Caudill, FAIA, for her work advocating diversity through leadership. The same year, McLemore was also recognized with Houston NOMA’s Ambassador Award. 

In addition to her role as an architect, McLemore is a wife, mother, avid traveler, and foodie. She is a graduate of the University of Houston, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Rice School of Architecture at Rice University. 

To learn more about Moody Nolan, visit www.moodynolan.com.