In 2011, the Board of Trustees of the City College of New York approved the creation of a new center to be located within the Spitzer School of Architecture named after prominent architect J. Max Bond, Jr. Bond was born in 1935 in Louisville, Kentucky to educators Ruth Clement Bond and J. Max Bond, Sr. Max’s interest in architecture developed early as he spent time admiring the campus of Tuskegee Institute, where his father was academic dean and though time spent abroad during his father’s posts in Haiti, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Liberia.
Max’s career in architecture formally began with his enrollment at Harvard University at the age of 15. Despite threats and discouragement from his educators to abandon his pursuits because of the color of his skin, Max completed his education in three years, graduating magna cum laude/Phi Beta Kappa, and enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
After completing a Fulbright fellowship and his early apprenticeships in New York in the early 1960’s, (a time when social and political contests where gaining momentum in the US), Max relocated to Ghana, Africa and created some of his first landmark works of architecture, most notable was the regional library in Bolgatanga, believed to be his favorite design. During his time in African, Max both developed his theory on sustainable development and his belief that architecture should strive to embody humanistic values.
Upon returning to the United States, Max Bond would go on to establish a unique and celebrated career. Highlights include director of the Architect’s Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH); co-founder of Bond-Ryder and Associates with Donald Ryder; chair of the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University; Dean of the City College of New York School of Architecture and Environmental Studies; and City Planning Commissioner for the City of New York. Some of his key projects include design of the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; the addition to the Harvard Club in New York City; the Harlem Children’s Zone headquarters; and the 911 Memorial at Ground Zero. Max was also extremely excited about the firm’s award to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in New York.