Michael Johns has led the planning and design of every major housing project that has graced the ever-evolving Philadelphia landscape over the last several years.
Johns, a graduate of Temple University School of Architecture, is also a founding member and a past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (PhilaNOMA). He was recently selected by PhilaNOMA for its “For the Love of It” award to celebrate his “impact on the Philadelphia design community.”
“I am humbled,” said Johns, 58. “It is something that I did not expect and to be acknowledged by your peers in any way is something that makes you stop, think and look at the things you’ve done in your career that have made an impact in such a way that your peers consider your efforts noteworthy.”
Johns provided over 25 years of service to the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), and left last year to focus solely on his firm, Mdesigns + MWJ Consulting LLC. Additionally, he served as a commissioner on Philadelphia’s City Zoning Code Reform Commission where he helped rewrite and modernize the antiquated code. He was an inaugural member and still sits on Philadelphia’s Civic Design Review Committee.
For more than two decades, Johns has lectured and provided training on affordable housing development and design, along with planning in urban neighborhoods. He grew up in the Mill Creek section of the city, and his life came full circle in a sense, when he oversaw the designing of its re-envisioning.
With PhilaNOMA, Johns is focusing to bridge the gap by providing positive change for aspiring students who often hail from the region’s forgotten neighborhoods.
“Different communities don’t know what an architect is or does or don’t know what the construction and design professional is at all, and so we have programs that gets them engaged for a career path later on,” Johns explained. “It’s team building and give the kids an understanding of what the profession is in all aspects of architecture. It’s been a phenomenal success.”
PhilaNOMA will celebrate its 25th year of championing diversity in architecture within Philadelphia on Nov. 2. The event will recognize “For the Love of IT “ award honoree: Michael Johns, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP; owner of M Designs, LLC, alongside founders, past presidents, esteemed local architects and showcase NOMA students’ work. For details, visit philanoma.org.