ROBERT P. MADISON INTERNATIONAL, INC., is an architectural firm founded in 1954 by Robert P. Madison and his brothers, Julian and Bernard. A Cleveland native and graduate of EAST TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL, Robert P. Madison was the first AFRICAN AMERICAN to earn an architectural degree in the state of Ohio and the first African-American graduate of the Western Reserve University School of Architecture in 1948 (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY). Upon graduating, Madison joined the Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and passed his state licensing examination in 1950. He subsequently earned his Master's degree under the guidance of Walter Gropius at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1952, and spent the next year at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar.
Madison left his academic appointment at Howard University in 1954 and returned to Cleveland to launch with his family the first black-owned architectural firm in the state of Ohio. His younger brothers, Julian and Bernard, both graduated from the School of Architecture and Engineering at Howard University and joined their older brother's firm. Flourishing during the MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF CARL B. STOKES, Madison, Madison, and Madison Architects and Engineers continued as a partnership of the three brothers until Bernard departed for Baltimore in 1970 to start his own business, and Julian left Cleveland in 1983 to oversee the company's branch offices in Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The firm was rechristened Robert P. Madison International, Inc. in 1970 following Bernard's departure. With five branch offices outside of Cleveland (including one in Trinidad), the company was one of the largest minority-owned architectural and engineering firms headquartered in the United States.
Some of the major projects executed by Robert P. Madison International, Inc. over the decades include the United States Embassy in Dakar, Senegal; the Engineering and Nuclear Facility at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama; a 220-unit housing development in Detroit; the State of Ohio Computer Center in Columbus; the Science and Research Center at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY; the GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY Waterfront Line; the Continental (“C”) Concourse at the CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT; the Frank J. Lausche State Office Building in downtown Cleveland; the Martin Luther King Jr. High School in the HOUGH neighborhood; the FATIMA FAMILY CENTER and Martin De Porres Center; residential units at ELIZA BRYANT VILLAGE; several buildings on CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE’s Eastern Campus; and transit stations in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston. The firm also collaborated closely with national companies working on prominent local projects such as the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM, the GREAT LAKES SCIENCE CENTER, the Louis Stokes Wing of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY, and the CLEVELAND BROWNS STADIUM. These high-profile projects continued through the 2000s with contributions to the design of the GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY’s Healthline bus rapid transit corridor, the Medical Mart and Convention Center project, the Downtown Hilton Hotel, and Jack (Horseshoe) Casino.
In completing its commercial ventures, the firm trained some 200 African-American architects, engineers, and planners since its inception. Robert Madison founded the Ohio Association of Minority Architects in 1982 and launched the Robert P. Madison Scholarship in Architecture for African Americans in cooperation with the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION. In 1997, Madison’s firm was awarded a Gold Medal by the Ohio chapter of the AIA; in 2000 he was given a Special Citation by the Cleveland Arts Prize in recognition of his career; and in 2002, he won the AIA’s Whitney M. Young, Jr. award for community service and was inducted into the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame. In 2018, Madison was awarded another Special Prize by the Cleveland Arts Prize in recognition of his groundbreaking career.
In the Fall of 2017, an office building on East 105th Street in GLENVILLE that Madison designed early in his career for African American medical professionals was dedicated as The Madison, and housed the Madison Residencies artist-in-residence program. Front International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art developed the property as the centerpiece of the PNC Glenville Arts Campus.
In March 2016, Sandra Madison, AIA, (after working 27 years at Robert P. Madison Intl., Inc.) became majority owner and the firm’s new CEO & Chairperson. Along with her two business co-owners, husband R. Kevin Madison, AIA, President, and Robert Klann, AIA, CFO, the firm embarked on a new chapter of the Robert P. Madison International, Inc. story. With an office at 2930 Euclid Avenue, Robert P. Madison International is in 2019 the largest black, female-headed architecture firm in the State of Ohio.
Updated by Michael Fleenor