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Gantt grew up in Charleston SC. His father was a carpenter and his early talent for drawing led to the choice of a career in architecture. After attending Iowa State University 1960-1962, he was repeatedly denied admission into Clemson University's Architecture program starting in 1961. After exhausting all administrative appeals, he took Clemson to court on charges of discrimination and won, gaining admission in 1963 and graduating in 1965. 

From 1965 to 1968, he interned at Odell in Charlotte, the first black architect the firm had ever hired. He graduated in 1970 from MIT with a Masters in Architecture and became founding partner of Gantt Huberman in Charlotte in 1971.

Gantt was until recently the most politically active architect in North Carolina. He was on the Charlotte City Council from 1974 to 1983; the Mayor of Charlotte from 1983 to 1987; and served on the North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Council, the Democratic National Committee, and the National Capital Planning Commission. Under his leadership, the commission adopted a strategic plan for city monuments and selected sites on the National Mall for the Martin Luther King Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

In 1990 and 1996, he ran unsuccessfully against incumbent North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms in two highly polarized races. Barack Obama was a volunteer for his campaign in 1996. 

Gantt received the AIANC Award of Excellence in Architecture in 1981 and has also received received honorary degrees from Winthrop College, Queens College, Clemson University, Johnson C. Smith University, and Belmont Abbey College.  He won the AIANC Gold Medal in 2017.

2013 Interview

 1969 - The William and Johnnie Bullock House, 4612 Meridian Drive, Charlotte. Sold in 2012 to Charles L. Assenco. Sold in 2015 to Russell Bullock.

1970 - The Garrett Thomas (Tommy) Nash House, 4221 La Brea Drive, Charlotte. Gantt drew the plans for this house on his kitchen table. Sold in 2005 to Kimberly Alexander. Sold by heirs in 2005 to Diana L. Ward. Sold in 2017 to Caroline Fache and Joseph C. Ewoodzie. 

1976 - The Dr. Kenneth H. Chambers House, 22 Catawba Ridge Road, River Hills SC. Sold in 2009.

1979 - The Robert J. and Thelma Ladd House, 3323 WindBluff Drive, Charlotte. As of 2012 still owned by the Ladds.


1979 - The Edmond R. and Thelma C. Johnson House, 301 Sardis Lane, Charlotte. 4100 sf. There isa mother-in law suite with a second kitchen and bath. Sold in 2003 to Jeffrey S. Forbes and Claude A. Little. Sold in 2006 to Adam Pearson and Merritt Friedman. Sold in 2010 to Andrew D. and Cynthia Peterson.

1980 - The Harvey Gantt Residence, part of condos at 517 North Poplar Street, Charlotte.  As of 2012 still owned by the Gantts.

Around 1981 - Student Housing for UNC Charlotte, Charlotte NC.

Sources include: Cheryl Walker, Gail Jodon, Harvey Gantt, MIT, Gantt Huberman.