Black History Month Spotlight:
McKissack & McKissack, Part Two of Two

Leatrice  McKissack

Leatrice McKissack

McKissack & McKissack is an African American architecture and engineering firm based for many years in Nashville, Tennessee, and now based in New York City and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1905, it was the first African-American-owned architectural firm in the United States and is the oldest minority-owned architecture and engineering firm in the country.

The firm was founded by brothers Moses McKissack III and Calvin Lunsford McKissack, natives of Pulaski, Tennessee. William DeBerry McKissack, the youngest son of Moses III, succeeded his uncle as president of the firm in 1968. After suffering a stroke, William DeBerry retired and his wife Leatrice Buchanan McKissack became chief executive officer in 1983.

Under the leadership of Leatrice Buchanan McKissack, the firm contimued to win major contracts for new buildings and renovations, including at Fisk University, Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, as well as a $50 million renovation project for Howard University in Washington, D.C., and design of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

With the assistance of her daughters, Leatrice opened satellite offices in Memphis, Washington, D.C., and New York City. McKissack & McKissack opened the office in Washington, D.C. in 1990, headed by Deryl McKissack, one of the three daughters of William and Leatrice McKissack. The firm’s operations in Nashville were terminated in 2002, with spin-off companies headed by William and Leatrice McKissack’s daughters continuing in other cities. Offices in Chicago and Los Angeles were opened in 2002 and 2008, respectively.

Today the McKissack women continue to expand upon the architectural legacy and family tradition of McKissack and McKissack. The twins, Cheryl and Deryl, have grown the business to phenomenal heights of accomplishment and success, each operating within a major segment of the East Coast.

Cheryl McKissack Daniel

Cheryl McKissack Daniel

Cheryl McKissack Daniel heads the New York operations. Cheryl earned bachelor and masters degrees in civil engineering from Howard University and did additional graduate work at Columbia University in civil engineering. Some of Cheryl’s more distinguished clients include Columbia University, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the New York City School Construction Authority. Cheryl’s firm worked on such New York infrastructure projects as Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the World Trade Center and Columbia University’s expansion.

Deryl McKissack

Deryl McKissack

The Washington, D.C. unit headed by Deryl is a separate architectural, engineering, and construction services firm that also has offices in Chicago, Miami, and Baltimore. Deryl also studied civil engineering at Howard, and additionally studied architecture, as well. Deryl’s company also currently maintains a staff of over 150 employees and has contracted more than $50 billion dollars in construction over the past decade.

Currently, Deryl’s offices in Washington, D.C. manage more than $10 billion in projects around theĀ U.S. and has handled numerous national landmarks, including the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington. They are project managers for the recently opened 23-acre MGM National Harbor, Maryland’s huge destination casino resort complex in Prince George’s County. In the Chicago market, they are continuing and/or have recently concluded work on the McCormick Marriott Marquis, the McCormick Event Center, the Navy Pier Centennial Vision projects, and the O’Hare Airport Modernization Project.

Learn more about the New York McKissack & McKissack firm operations at: Learn more about the Washington, D.C. McKissack & McKissack firm operations at: