MANY A NIGHT LOOKING AT THE STARS—MELVIN GREEN
A principal of KME ARCHITECTURE, Melvin Green first came to the valley in 1983, when he was recruited by an architectural and engineering firm to work on the Stealth fighter program. Having helmed projects for Nevada Partners, T-Mobile Arena, the Eclipse Theatre and the Las Vegas Convention Center, his firm is registered in eight states, including Nevada.
I was born in a small town, Bonita, Louisiana, in a single-family household. My mother worked in the fields. She had a seventh-grade education. . . back then we worked in the cotton fields. We did the hay; I worked in a dairy. I worked in a rice field. I was driving when I was ten, driving the tractors at that age. So, sometimes I look at life and I can be very bitter about how things happen. How I wasn’t allowed to go to the library, wasn’t allowed to go to the pool. If I went to the dentist, I had to go through the back door. The brain has a way of processing trauma, has a way of processing happiness. And for me, I do remember some of the bad times, but I remember all of the good times.
Living in the country there are no houses within two or three miles of each other . . . so, I would spend many a night looking at the stars. No streetlights, only the porchlight. Just looking at the stars and wondering what’s out there—it gave me a vivid imagination. I have a theme song, Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.” Every morning I play that song because as an African American architect, it’s sometimes difficult to get the very big projects. You drive around town and see all of these wonderful projects coming up and you’re not given the opportunities to work on them. But I don’t use that as a crutch. I use that as motivation to go out there. The good thing about being raised in the South was that they taught you how to be self-sufficient—cook, clean, iron, sew. I can even make quilts. I saw how my mom and my aunts would make the quilts and sew the patterns together using all the scraps they had, but they still have design, if you notice.