Darrel Williams, FAIA


I’m involved in several things – but my true passion lies in the transformation of urban communities and the opportunity to revitalize and bring about positive change through the use of architecture, planning and urban design. There’s no better reward.

DARREL J. WILLIAMS, FAIA, is a founding partner and the Owner of Neighboring Concepts, a multidisciplinary design firm established in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996.  Under his leadership, the firm has successfully improved the quality of life in urban communities through thoughtful urban planning, innovative architectural design, and responsible real-estate development projects.  Neighboring Concepts is the largest African American owned architectural firm in the State of North Carolina.

Williams is motivated by the desire to influence positive change and is driven to help sustain and revitalize urban communities.  For him, “transforming communities through architecture” is not simply a firm tagline, it is a calling.  An accomplished and award-winning architect, in 2006 he was elevated to the College of Fellows for the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Neighboring Concepts has been involved in the design of several award-winning projects, including CATS Lynx Blue Line Light Rail Stations, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, Stratford Richardson YMCA, Romare Bearden Park and Revolution Park Sports Academy, (Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation’s first LEED certified project). One of the firm’s most recent completed projects includes The Renaissance, the redevelopment of former Boulevard Homes Public Housing into a new cutting edge sustainable educational village, which includes various LEED certifications. The firm is currently involved in the design of several affordable housing developments, recreational projects, master plans and community revitalization plans.  In 2016, the firm relocated its offices into the lower level of Mosaic Village, a multi-million dollar mixed used development on West Trade Street near Johnson C. Smith University.

From 1994 to 2002, Williams was elected and served four terms as a County Commissioner in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  Among his many accomplishments, Darrel encouraged his colleagues on the County Commission to include a 220 million-dollar Land Purchase Bond on the ballot in 1999. The successful passing of the bonds has allowed Mecklenburg County to acquire land for public facilities such as schools; libraries, parks, greenways and open space.

A proven leader, Williams has chaired several national committees for the National Association of Counties (NACO) (i.e. smart growth, housing, community/economic development, etc.). As an architect and former elected official, he has proven successful in bridging the gap between the physical and social challenges facing urban communities.

Williams is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), AIA North Carolina, and AIA Charlotte, where he previously served as president.  He is also a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and licensed to practice in several states including NC, SC, GA, VA, LA and AL.  Williams currently serves on the boards of several civic organizations, including Charlotte Center City Partners, North Carolina Nature Conservancy and other local organizations. He previously served on the Executive Committee for both Central Piedmont Community College Board of Trustees and Charlotte Center City Partners and is a former Chair of the Library Board of Trustees.  Williams is currently chairing the Campaign, Partnership for a Better Mecklenburg. The campaign is to help educate and convince the citizens of Mecklenburg County to support a ¼ cent sales tax on the November 2019 for additional funds for Parks, Arts & Culture and Education.

Williams, a recipient of numerous awards both professionally and for outstanding community service, was born in New Orleans and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Southern University.

If I wasn’t an architect… I would work mostly outdoors on environmental/sustainability issues with a focus on the youth.

Darrel is married to the Honorable Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams and has four sons.