Henry L. Livas was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas on April 20, 1912. In 1916 his family moved to Springfield, Ohio. Henry attended Woodward Elementary School in Springfield until 1922. His family relocated to Kentucky in 1923 and he graduated from high school in 1929. In 1930 he enrolled in the Building Construction program at Hampton Institute and graduated in May 1935 with a Bachelor of Science Degree.
From 1936 to 1937 Livas was employed by Beny Construction Co. in Durham, NC performing drafting, designing and preparation of specifications and field supervision of multi-family housing projects. From 1937 to 1941 Livas taught at Arkansas College and was the college's in-house architect supervising the Buildings & Grounds Department. From 1942 to 1943 he was a teacher at Virginia State College, Army Engineering School in Ettrick, VA. The program was supervised by Army officers.
By July 1944 he was enrolled at Pennsylvania State College, School of Engineering with a minor in architecture, his tuition was paid for with a Graduate Stipend Scholarship. He chose as his thesis topic, "Building Code Requirements for Structures Housing Selected Mixed Occupancies" which played to his engineering strengths instead of architectural design. While in State College he was a teaching assistant for Professor of Architecture, Elliot L. Whittaker. In 1945 he was back at his alma mater Hampton Institute as a newly minted associate professor where he taught for 35 plus years.
In 1948, Livas established Henry L. Livas, Architect and in 1950, after being rejected from being a member of the Virginia American Institute of Architects. because of his race, he was admitted into the Metropolitan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (Washington D.C.). Livas then changed the firm name to Henry L. Livas, AIA, Architect and Associates. In 1960, Livas opened the Norfolk, Virginia location which is still practicing as "The Livas Group Architects, P.C."
In 1958, Livas was elected the sixteenth president of the National Technical Association (NTA). He also served as editor of the NTA publication, "The Journal." Livas had a great interest in teaching and mentoring young student architects and engineers towards successful careers. Livas used his ideas, initiative and innovation to improve and develop the NTA as an outstanding technical organization as well as leaving his legacy on the practice of The Livas Group Architects, P.C.