A Call to Act

AIA Baltimore to recognize projects that advance social equity

Awards East News
Whitney M. Young’s addressing the 100th Convention of the American Institute of Architects (Courtesy AIA)
Whitney M. Young’s addressing the 100th Convention of the American Institute of Architects (Courtesy AIA)

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Baltimore recently added a new category to its Excellence in Design Awards Program: the Social Equity Design Award, which will be given out in collaboration with the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), an organization that promotes community-engaged design. The award was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the non-profit’s establishment and the civil rights leader Whitney M. Young’s landmark speech at the 100th Convention of the AIA.

Martin Luther King Jr., President B. Lyndon Johnson, and Whitney M. Young Jr. in the Oval Office (Courtesy Library of Congress)

In his historic 1968 keynote address, Young urged architects across the country to address social issues and diversity in the profession. Later that year the NDC was founded by a group of Baltimore architects mobilized by Young’s speech to rebuild their communities following the riots following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

The Social Equity Design Award is meant to recognize projects that “promote social equity and align with NDC’s values,” according to a statement by AIA Baltimore. The statement goes on to say that, “Healthy places are built with consideration of social justice, environmental sustainability, and the true character of a place and the people who live, work, worship, and do business there.”

“Architecture is about people, and the Social Equity Design Award celebrates that architecture can and should improve quality of life for everyone,” said Laura Wheaton, AIA, program manager at the Neighborhood Design Center and member of the AIA Baltimore board of directors.

Installation view, A Call to Act(ivism): Echoing Whitney Young, 50 Years Later, 2018 (Erik Bardin, Courtesy Center for Architecture)

This award coincides with the exhibition A Call to Act(ivism): Echoing Whitney Young, 50 Years Later, which is being put on by AIA New York to commemorate Young’s speech and its implications for architects today. It is currently on view through September 15 at the Center for Architecture.

The judging panel will consist of local architects and community leaders. The awards will be given out at the 2018 AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards Celebration, which will be held at Center Stage on October 19. The deadline for submission is September 4. Click here for details.

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