The Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers

A.L. Hu

In 1994, a group of historic preservationists and and architects formed the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD) in New York City. The national organization’s mission was to reclaim lost history by identifying and recognizing lesbian and gay architects throughout history,  identify spaces and places that have significance in the history of lesbian and gay movements, and analyze and define “queer design.” To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, OLGAD organized Design Pride ’94, the first International Lesbian and Gay Design Conference, in partnership with Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and the Elsie de Wolfe Foundation. The exhibit, Design Legacies: A Tribute to Architects and Designers Who Have Died of AIDS, celebrated the talent and contributions of people who lost their lives at the height of their careers.

One of OLGAD’s most well-known public advocacy efforts was A Guide to Lesbian & Gay New York Historical Landmarks, a foldout map of historic lesbian and gay sites in Greenwich Village, Midtown, and Harlem. The map broadened the public’s knowledge of LGBTQ history beyond Stonewall. Due to OLGAD’s sustained advocacy and partnership with the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding neighborhood streets became part of the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places, thirty years after the Rebellion.  

OLGAD founding members Andrew Dolkart, Jane Greenwood, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley launched the New York City LGBTQ Historic Sites Project in August 2015. The project translated the 1994 map into an interactive online experience and expands the research. The project now boasts over twenty-five years of research and advocacy, and it continues to be a resource for the untaught, long-unknown history of queer spaces in New York City.