In a sign of how the #metoo movement is reverberating across the field of architecture, today AIA New York (AIANY) announced that it would be stripping recent awards from Richard Meier and Peter Marino, two New York City architects accused of sexual misconduct.
The AIANY Board of Directors rescinded Meier and Marino’s 2018 Design Awards. Meier’s serial harassment—as well as an alleged assault—were exposed in a New York Times story last week. Though Marino’s conduct hasn’t been covered extensively in the media, the architect is facing a harassment suit.
AIANY Executive Director Benjamin Prosky explained the board’s reasoning in a short statement. “Our decision does not speak to the design quality of the projects or the contributions from the respective firms’ design teams. Rather we cannot in good conscience confer these awards under these circumstances.”
The 2018 award winners, minus Marino and Meier, were announced in January, and will be fêted at an April luncheon. Peter Marino Architect was expected to accept a Merit Award for the Seagram Building’s Lobster Club restaurant, while Richard Meier & Partners Architects was to be honored with the same for its work on the Leblon Offices in Rio de Janeiro. There were 32 (now 30) award winners in all.
The AIANY is far from the only professional organization to distance themselves from Meier following the Times report. Ben Derbyshire, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has condemned Meier’s behavior (he was honored with the association’s Gold Medal in 1988), while AIA National stated it was “deeply troubled” by the allegations. In a statement, AIA president Carl Elefante, FAIA, reiterated the organization’s stance against sexual harassment.
“AIA stands by a set of values that guide us as a profession and a Code of Ethics that define standards of behavior for our members. Sexual harassment is not only illegal, it flies in the face of our values and ethics,” said Elefante. “We are deeply troubled by the allegations in The New York Times today, and believe that sexual harassment—in any form and in any workplace—should not be tolerated and must be addressed swiftly and forcefully.”
Peter Marino Architect has provided the following statement to AN in response:
“PMA is committed to eliminating harassment from the workplace as is any other member of AIA New York. But AIA’s new policy goes too far. According to AIANY’s new policy, if there is any allegation pending – regardless of merit – AIANY bars a member from being honored. In the case of Peter Marino, had AIANY just read the public record, it would have learned that PMA has disputed the sole hostile work environment claim against the firm, a claim raised by a claimant who quit her PMA job and is trying to use the courts to have her employment reinstated. In fact a pending motion seeks sanctions against the claimant, who has been countersued by PMA for malfeasance and insurance fraud. That dispute with a former PMA employee bears no resemblance to the type of misconduct that has garnered much recent public attention. Nor does it merit any public rebuke from the AIA or any other professional colleague.”