Local architect Michael Clark joins UNCP


J. Michael Clark, who has designed buildings from coast to coast and around the globe, will join The University of North Carolina at Pembroke as its facilities architect.

A Pembroke, N.C., native with long ties to the University, Clark will be project manager for major construction projects on campus, and he will design other projects. He has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NC State University and comes to UNCP with years of experience as an architect and planner for the federal government.

michael_clark.jpgClark reports to Bess H. Tyner, director of  Facilities Planning and Construction.

“We are very excited about having someone as experienced as Mr. Clark as a part of the Facilities Planning & Construction team,” Tyner said. “He brings a rich palate of work and life experience, which will be combined with his connection to the University and love of the area to give a new synergy to our design approach.” 

Clark, who attended Pembroke Elementary and High Schools which were located adjacent to UNCP, is the first Lumbee Indian architect to graduate from NC State. His father is a UNCP graduate, and his great uncle, D.F. Lowry, is the first graduate of the University in 1905 when it was Croatan Normal School.

“I am excited to be here and I am excited about the growth of the University,” he said. “One reason I wanted to be at UNCP is because I am from this community, and I am familiar with the history of the University.

“I believe I can be a positive influence on the future of the University and the community,” Clark said.

As an architect, Clark has already had an impact on the community by designing numerous churches, schools and public and private buildings and homes. He comes to UNPC from the local architectural firm Native American Design Services, which he founded in 1993.

As architectural advisor for the Lumbee Tribe, a project that is especially satisfying to Clark is the design of a series of homes being built on tribal land near Pembroke.

“We had involvement from NC State architectural students and input from prospective residents on how they perceived their living spaces,” he said. “The result was some good basic designs for homes, from starter homes to a larger two-story model.”

“Good basic design” for Clark and his customers included porches, cross ventilation, open living spaces and flexibility to meet the needs of extended families.

After starting his career in Phoenix, Ariz., with a Native American architectural firm, Clark traveled a long circle to return home. He worked as a federal employee for the Navy and Coast Guard, designing large and small projects around the globe.

“I would advise a young architect to begin a career with the federal government,” Clark said. “I started with a small amount of responsibility in a mega-architectural firm with considerable resources and support and gradually got more responsibility.”

Clark traveled worldwide working on embassy projects among others. He was 1982 Employee of the Year for the Atlantic Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and he received an Award of Merit from the American Society of Interior Design for a chapel design.

Being an American Indian is an important aspect of Clark’s architectural career and his philosophy of design.

“I hope to build in some cultural aspects into the buildings I work with,” he said. “Native Americans as keepers of the earth are in harmony with green values in design.”

Clark has influenced the local landscape with projects at Berea Baptist Church in Pembroke and Mt. Airy Baptist Church nearby. He has worked on renovations at Prospect, Union, Union Chapel and Deep Branch schools, and he helped design one of the town’s and University’s most visible places, the Pembroke Town Park.

“The Town Park project is pro bono, and I think it will be an asset to the University and town,” Clark said. “The design incorporates history and other community values as well as useful space for play and quiet reflection.”

Clark’s son, M. Che’veyo Clark, now leads Native American Design Services in the day-to-day operations of the firm. Che’veyo holds a Master of Architecture degree.

For more information about UNCP’s Facilities Planning and Construction, please call 910.521.6815 or email michael.clark@uncp.edu.