MinneCulture Podcast | Ep. 33: James Garrett Jr. on Why Black Architecture Matters

An architectural rendering of Great River Landing (via 4RM+ULA)

This summer on the MinneCulture Podcast, it’s all about Minnesota history.

James Garrett Jr. is an architect at 4RM+ULA architects, one of the only Black-owned architecture firms in Minnesota. Garrett and his family have deep ties to St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. During his childhood in St. Paul, James fell in love with buildings and the bustle of urban landscapes. Later, while in college, he would discover that he himself had a connection to these landscapes through a man who helped create them, Clarence Wigington, the first Black municipal architect in the country, serving St. Paul from 1915 to 1949.

In this episode of the MinneCulture Podcast, reporter Katie Thornton speaks with James Garrett Jr. about his life, his passion for architecture and how community-driven design can be a type of activism.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, PodMN and SoundCloud here:

Katie Thornton and James Garrett Jr. first met when Katie interviewed James for her episode of 99% Invisible about the intrigue — and the inequities — of the Twin Cities’ skyway systems. Read and hear more of Katie Thornton’s work at itskatiethornton.com. You can learn more about James Garret Jr.’s work — and the work of all of the 4RM+ULA architects, including their work on transit stops and pocket parks — at 4RMULA.com.

Support for the MinneCulture Podcast on KFAI comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Support also comes from the Hennepin History Museum. Banner image: Architectural rendering of Great River Landing (via 4RM+ULA); Soundcloud image: Clarence Wigington (from the St. Paul Black newspaper “The Appeal” in 1918)