By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins

Have you ever ridden around in this amazing city, looked up and then wondered (out loud), who in the world came up with the idea for some of these incredible, iconic buildings? Well I got to meet the lady whose family has built quite a number of them. Cheryl McKissack-Daniel is the President and CEO of McKissack & McKissack architects in New York. And OMG! What a story. It goes all the way back to the 1700’s…when her great, great, great, great, great (I’ve run out of greats) grandfather started his own bricklaying business. And more than two centuries later, the company (which came full circle, offering design, construction and management services) has over 6000 facilities to its credit—including the World Trade Center, the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, the MLK Memorial in Washington…even the storied Maxwell Hotel in Nashville (one of the forefathers designed and built the place, which has hosted at least five presidents!)

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McKissick-Daniel runs operations here in New York and Philly. Her twin sister (Deryl) runs West Coast operations. Between the two offices, they’ve had their hand in just about every major project in America. We laughed out loud when she talked about how mom and dad “steered” her and her sister into the business. She revolted, wanting to what teenagers do; “their own thing”. Later, the two realized what a gift she says it was to have a legacy, with obstacles removed by their forefathers. Cheryl would later come to buy the original architectural firm from her mother (yes, she had to buy momma out, and says mom didn’t go easy on her wallet either haha)!!

More: Black History Month Photo GalleryOne-On-One with Cheryl McKissack Daniel

The company is currently involved in the Manhattanville project (expansion at Columbia University). She’s proud of the fact that they also give back to the community, with a workforce development program which the launched several years ago in Harlem.

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Web Extra: Mckissack.com | Full Interview With Cheryl McKissack Daniel

It’s pretty neat to now walk down the street, look up, and say to myself, “my friend Cheryl built that”. My friend Cheryl. Of course I’m name-dropping.

McKissack-Daniel says she once told her mother, I want to become a dancer. Mom wasn’t having it. But at the end of the day, she says her dream still won out; she has built dance and performance halls, and attended functions in them where she has “danced the night away”. Take that, mom!!!  You’re going to LOVE Cheryl’s interview on 1010WINS this month.

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My friend Cheryl.