Posts tagged with "AIA":

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Venturi, Scott Brown’s Sainsbury Wing wins the 2019 AIA Twenty-five Year Award

After awarding no building the prestigious Twenty-five Year Award in 2018, a first since the prize’s founding in 1971, the AIA has changed its tune for 2019. The 2019 award has been bestowed upon the Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA)–designed Sainsbury Wing addition to London’s National Gallery. The Twenty-five Year Award was created to honor buildings that have “set a precedent for the last 25-35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance.” Additionally, buildings must be in good shape and still represent the original design intent. The Sainsbury Wing, a 120,000-square-foot addition to the 1838 National Gallery, was completed in 1991 and originally drew a mixture of scorn from both traditionalists and modernists who felt the scheme was trying to have the best of both worlds. As Adam Nathaniel Furman noted in an essay on the building’s convoluted history, VSBA used Postmodernism as a way to thread the needle between opposing demands. Clad in a large, unifying facade but containing a delicately-balanced and intimate set of galleries within, the Sainsbury Wing feels both new and old at once. In 2018 the addition was awarded Grade I preservation listing status, the highest level of recognition in the UK. The decision to recognize the Sainsbury Wing this year is likely in deference to the late Robert Venturi; the building falls well within the 1983-through-1993 range that the jury was considering last year. This isn’t the first time the AIA has recognized the Sainsbury Wing though, as it was awarded a National Award in 1992. The 2019 jury included Jeanne Chen, AIA, Chair, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners (Santa Monica, California): Rania Alomar, AIA, RA-DA (West Hollywood, California): Alicia Berg, AICP, University of Chicago (Chicago): Raymond M. Bowman, Assoc. AIA (Pittsburgh): Katherine K. Chia, FAIA, Desai Chia Architecture PC (New York City): Shannon R. Christensen, AIA, CTA Architects Engineers (Billings, Montana): Eugene C. Dunwody Jr., AIA, Dunwody/ Beeland Architects (Macon, Georgia): Henry Moss, AIA, Bruner/Cott & Associates, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts): and David Rosa-Rivera, Savannah College of Art and Design (Bayamón, Puerto Rico).
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AIA announces its 2019 Firm of the Year, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award

Everyone’s been talking about Richard Rogers’s big win as the 2019 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal recipient, but he isn’t the only visionary being honored at next year’s AIA National Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas. Four other firms and leading architects will be recognized by the AIA for their career-long contributions to the fields of architecture, engineering, and design. Check out the boundary-breaking winners below: 2019 AIA Architecture Firm of the Year: Payette This 86-year-old, Boston-based firm paved the way for some of the industry’s biggest technical advancements. Founded in 1932 by industrial engineers Fred Markus and Paul Nocka, the interdisciplinary organization is home to over 160 employees that specialize not only in architecture, but visualization technology, building science, landscape design, interior architecture, fabrication, and data science. Its massive portfolio features large-scale health, science, and academic facilities for global institutions such as Grainger Hall for the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts; and the Biosciences Research Building at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. 2019 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion: Toshiko Mori Toshiko Mori, founder and principal of her namesake firm, has an extensive background teaching architecture. The AIA and the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) will recognize Mori next year for excellence in architectural education. She’s taught at the Cooper Union, Columbia University, Yale University, as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she’d worked for 23 years. She was the first female faculty member there to get tenure, and became chair of the architecture department in 2002, leading the program for six years. Through her New York–based firm, which she established in 1981, Mori most recently designed the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre in Sinthian, Senegal, as well as the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine. 2019 AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award: Karen Braitmayer As founder of the Seattle-based consulting firm Studio Pacifica, Karen Braitmayer advises architects, developers, government and state agencies, as well as schools on accessible design. After starting her organization in 1993, she’s become widely recognized for her leadership in promoting equality, inclusivity, and social sustainability for people living with disabilities. The AIA’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award will be given to Braitmayer for her work in advancing human rights. She’s served on the boards of the Northwest ADA Center, the Northwest Center for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the United States Access Board, which President Barack Obama appointed her to in 2010. Her firm works regularly with Olson Kundig, the city of Seattle, and Starbucks. She’s consulted on projects with Kiernan Timberlake, Oregon State University, REI, Kaiser Permanente, Nike, and Amazon. 2019 Edward C. Kemper Award: Robert Traynham Coles Robert Traynham Coles’s eponymous firm, opened in 1963, is the oldest African-American–owned architecture studio in the Northeast U.S. His work has widely influenced the city of Buffalo, where he was born, raised, and spent most of his 50-year career. Coles will receive the Edward C. Kemper Award for his legacy within the AIA. From 1974-1976, he served as the organization’s Deputy Vice President for Minority Affairs and was appointed to the College of Fellows in 1981. That same year he received the Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award for his commitment to social justice and equality in the industry. In 2016, Coles published his memoir Architecture + Advocacy in which he detailed his career-long effort to design architecture with a social conscience. He has taught at various institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Kansas.
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Richard Rogers wins the 2019 AIA Gold Medal

Lord Richard Rogers, honorary FAIA, has been awarded the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2019 Gold Medal, the highest honor the institution offers. In recognizing the English architect's storied career, which spans more than 50 years, the AIA singled out Rogers’s Centre Pompidou in Paris (a collaboration with Renzo Piano), whose massive popularity kickstarted the high-tech style. The cultural complex was praised for its functional transparency and rejection of monumentality, hallmarks of Rogers’s that the AIA notes continued throughout his career. Rogers’s continued commitment to solving social, urban, and environmental issues through design, and his political activism were also praised. His continued impact on the skyline of London and New York, and approach to human-oriented urbanism, were singled out by the jury in particular as well. “He is the quintessential builder, committed to mastering the craft and technology of construction, harnessing it towards efficient buildings, and forging an expressive architectural language,” wrote Moshe Safdie, in a show of support for Rogers’s nomination. “Before it was fashionable, he was an environmentalist, who recognized early in his career the challenges of energy and climate, developing innovative solutions.” “Richard Rogers is a friend, a companion of adventures and life,” wrote Piano, who also supported Rogers’s nomination. “He also happens to be a great architect, and much more than that. He is a planner attracted by the complexity of cities and the fragility of earth; a humanist curious about everything (from art to music, people, communities, and food); an inexhaustible explorer of the world. And there is one more thing he could be: a poet.” Rogers has seen his fair share of awards, including the 2007 Pritzker, a RIBA Gold Medal in 1985, and a RIBA Stirling prize in both 2006 and 2009. The AIA jury was composed of the following members: Kelly M. Hayes-McAlonie, FAIA, Chair, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York Dan Hart, FAIA, Parkhill Smith & Cooper, Inc., Midland, Texas Lori Krejci, AIA, Avant Architects, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska Dr. Pamela R. Moran, Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Virginia Antoine Predock, FAIA, Antoine Predock Architects, Albuquerque, New Mexico David B. Richards, FAIA, Rossetti, Detroit, Michigan Emily A. Roush-Elliott, AIA, Delta DB, Greenwood, Mississippi Rafael Viñoly, AIA, LMN Architects, Seattle, Washington
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AIA outlines 6 key post-election issues to pursue with new Congress

As the architecture industry’s chief lobbying organization, it’s the American Institute of Architects’ job to get the issues architects care about up to Capitol Hill. It hasn’t always made decisions that resonate with everyone on both sides of the aisle, such as its pledge to work with President Trump, and it's been accused of being too slow to respond to obvious problems instigated by the government, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent new rule on asbestos. But it has continued to battle in the political arena on behalf of architects across the country and revise its plans based on its constituents' goals. This year, as part of 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante’s vision, the AIA is urging architects to exercise their role as architect-activists and “take a seat at the table” in order to guide leadership at the local, state, and federal government levels on the future of American cities. Following last week’s midterm elections, the AIA held a “Post-Election Debrief” to outline six key issues it’s set to focus on as the new United States Congress takes shape. Affordable Housing It’s no secret that many cities across the country are experiencing an affordable housing crisis. From Naples to New York, Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, it’s harder than ever to find reasonable rent and mortgages for the nation's low-income families. The AIA wants to expand the current Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and push for a similar program catered to middle-income households. Proposed by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit would allow participating states the chance to receive federal tax credits based on population with 60 percent of units saved within a rental property for residents earning up to the median area income. Some see this motion as an unnecessary waste of federal resources, as it takes away from the poorest of the poor, and argue that changing exclusionary zoning laws would have essentially the same impact. Sustainability Numerous American cities have committed to reducing energy consumption by 2030 in an effort to comply with the 2016 Paris Agreement to combat climate change. New York’s own grand goal is to cut 80 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To do so, the city must focus on retrofitting its existing buildings with energy efficient materials. The AIA says it will continue to back legislation that helps developers do this, though right now, it’s a very costly task. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), which passed last December, does a lot to incentivize property improvements for individual-income business owners. However, it raises the after-tax cost of retrofitting a building for energy improvements. To combat this, the AIA believes such investment should be credited as a “qualified improvement property,” so more property owners will be interested in greening their standing structures.   Resilience Natural disasters are wreaking havoc on coastal American cities and beyond. Each hurricane, wildfire, and tornado season brings more devastation than the year before. While architects can’t control Mother Nature, they can support in-need communities in numerous ways once disaster strikes. The AIA seeks to expand its Safety Assessment Program (SAP) in order to train more architects with the skills necessary to analyze buildings post-hurricane, windstorm, or flood. Additionally, Congress passed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) last month which gives states more room to manage post-disaster rebuilding efforts, as well as greater investment in preventing serious damage from occurring in the first place. Through a new National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, communities can plan and build resiliency projects with fair federal funding. School Safety Mass shootings are a nationwide epidemic. Architects may not have much jurisdiction over the design and security of nightclubs, open concert venues, or religious institutions, but they can impart their expertise into the future of educational architecture. This August, the AIA launched its school safety initiative, calling for schools to receive more federal funding and grants for architectural and design services. The AIA also wants the government to help create a new public resource full of best practices and design guidelines for architects to use in order to mitigate violence in schools through well-thought design. AIA representatives have spoken out on this matter already at the White House and in front of the U.S. Department of Education as well as Homeland Security. The new Sandy Hook Elementary School designed by Svigals + Partners opened this fall and has been lauded as a prime example of the kind of “open architecture” now needed for 21st-century schools. The AIA plans to introduce legislation on safe school design to the new Congress in the coming year. Architecture Firms A section of the federal tax code forces a high tax on any foreign entity investing in a U.S. commercial real estate property if they supply up to a certain percentage of funds. This law, called the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA), was enacted in 1980 and partially repealed by Congress in 2015. The AIA believes it still stops new projects and jobs from reaching architecture firms by discouraging investment in local communities. The AIA is urging Congressional leaders to sign as cosponsor of the Invest in America Act, which would fully repeal FIRPTA and potentially bring 147,000 to 284,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy while providing hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure, affordable housing, and more. Student Loan Debt In 2013, the AIA and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) introduced the bipartisan National Design Services Act to help emerging architectural professionals with student loan assistance in exchange for community service. According to the bill, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would either reimburse students on their tuition who worked in underprivileged areas on public projects or provide grants for internships at community design centers. The bill was reintroduced to Congress in 2015 but has sat stagnant since. The AIA is asking architects to write into their local Congressperson to educate them on the initiative and call attention to how the student debt problem affects rising architects. To learn more about these issues and contact your local Congressperson, visit the AIA’s Architect Action Center.
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Two-thirds of architects experience sexual harassment, new survey says

A new survey delves into the impact of sexual harassment in the fields of design, construction, architecture, and engineering. Coming on the heels of this year's news surrounding Richard Meier and the "Shitty Architecture Men" listArchitectural Record and Engineering News-Record (ENR) conducted a survey by interviewing over 1,200 architects on their experiences with inappropriate workplace behavior. According to the study, roughly two-thirds of all architects surveyed have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Women composed over two-thirds of the respondents, where 85 percent reported having been harassed at some point while at their job. Around 65 percent of those who alleged harassment described it as inappropriate jokes, questions, or personal requests. Almost 30 percent experienced sexual assault in the form of inappropriate physical contact. One woman working in a small firm in the Midwest was asked for a "kiss goodnight" from her boss when alone one night at the office. She lost her job for declining. While her experience is disturbing, it is far from uncommon. According to Architectural Record, about 65 percent of workers reported the harassment to either a colleague, manager, or human resources specialist, while 25 percent reportedly never acted nor spoke publicly about the incident. Meanwhile, less than one percent of victims filed a lawsuit or claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Architectural Record also reported that nearly 75 percent of architects have either witnessed sexual harassment firsthand or heard about an incident through a coworker, yet the issue was still not being taken seriously by many members of the patriarchal industry. A woman in the Southeast even recalled her male colleagues telling her to "lighten up" and "enjoy the attention" after she confronted them about their offensive and inappropriate sexual remarks. Many of those surveyed even felt that those in leadership within the architectural profession aren't listening to their concerns. Two-thirds said leadership organizations haven't properly addressed sexual harassment yet. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has only recently enacted their new Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct policy. Since the rise to prominence of the #MeToo movement, women’s social, legal, and economic rights have continued to rise, helping transform gender roles in the United States. Nonetheless, gender double standards and gender inequality still persist. For the architectural community, the allegations against Meier triggered the acknowledgment of gender-based harassment in the workplace, an issue that the male-dominated profession has struggled with for decades.
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Project tackling gender-restricted bathroom access wins AIA Innovation Award

A transdisciplinary project about designing more inclusive public bathrooms has just been awarded one of two Innovation Awards by the AIA. Stalled!—a project led by architect Joel Sanders, transgender historian Susan Stryker, and legal scholar Terry Kogan—takes on the national controversy surrounding trans individuals’ access to public bathrooms through the lens of design. The timing of the award could not be more apt, with the Trump administration proposing to limit the legal definition of gender as the biological sex assigned at birth, affecting the roughly 1.4 million Americans who identify themselves as trans or as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth, a status currently protected under civil rights laws. The AIA Innovation Award recognizes projects that inventively implement technology and new practices in the management of a building’s lifecycle. By offering research and design standards for more inclusive bathrooms, Stalled! moves beyond polarized rhetoric to present practical design solutions. The project tackles the norm of the sex-segregated bathroom in three areas: offering best practice guidelines for all-gender, multi-user bathrooms; amending the International Plumbing Code to allow for such design interventions; and conducting outreach and education efforts within the design and institutional community about the alternatives. According to Stryker, a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona and an expert on transgender history, culture, and politics in the U.S., the single-sex public bathroom is discriminatory against a wide range of individuals and not just those who are trans. These include people with disabilities whose caretakers are another gender identity, those who are gender-nonconforming, and fathers who need to take their daughters to the bathroom. A commonly offered solution—the single-user, all-gender bathroom that supplements the male and female bathroom—“replicates the idea of separate but equal” by creating a segregated space for those who are not cisgender or identify either as male or female. According to Stryker, the multi-user, all-gender bathroom that Stalled! advocates for simply works better, and installing such a bathroom does not even require ideological agreement about what gender is. Retrofitting an existing set of facilities or creating a new one “doesn’t take up more space, and meets all of these needs. It’s powerful, simple, and elegant, and offers equity of access,” added Stryker. A case study on the Stalled! site shows a retrofit of the Field House at Washington, D.C.–based Gallaudet University, featuring an inclusive changing room and bathroom. Stalled! also features an airport bathroom prototype that separates the bathroom into three zones for grooming, washing, and using the toilet, rather than by male and female users. Beyond bathrooms, the principles of inclusive design can extend to other public spaces as well, and the project team from Stalled! has begun a startup called MIXdesign that will apply this approach to other institutions that have historically excluded those who are not able-bodied, cisgender, male, and white. The debate about gender identity and public space appears to be far from over, and if the record of the Trump administration's measures against recognizing trans or non-binary gender identities is any indication, it appears this will be a protracted issue in the coming years. In the meantime, Stalled! offers itself as an online and real-time resource for design professionals and institutions seeking to make their bathrooms more accessible to all.
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AIA speaks on safe school design at the White House

Earlier this week, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced its new initiative to advocate for improved school design policies. Yesterday a representative from the architectural organization met with senior White House cabinet members to discuss legislation that promotes the design of open learning environments that enhance security and safety. Jay Brotman, AIA, the partner at Svigals+Partners who led the design of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, spoke on behalf of the AIA in Washington. In his statement, Brotman presented best practices used for the school’s secure design and how his team collected input from the community, teachers, and students to address the most crucial needs. “The desire to craft design strategies that mitigate the challenges schools face is an absolute priority,” he said. “As architects, we do this every day. However, two ongoing problems prevent local school officials from implementing these solutions: a lack of access to quality school-design information and the ability to fund them.” Part of the AIA’s goal is to assist the government in creating legislation that provides pathways for federally-funded architecture and design services and grants. They also want to establish a “federal clearinghouse” of resources detailing best practices for school officials, architects, and design professionals to stay updated on the latest research involving safe school design. In front of the Federal Commission on School Safety, Brotman explained that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work in designing these facilities. “Whether it’s a retrofit or new school, each school must be designed for its unique student population, for its unique location, and to meet the needs of its unique community,” he said. “The primary goal is to provide an inspiring, health environment that promotes learning. Security features, while vital and necessary, should be as invisible as possible and incorporated into the school’s design. Failing to do so puts children’s education, emotional development and pro-social behavior at risk.” The AIA has yet to unveil any specific design prescriptions for school safety, but Brotman’s testimony is one step closer toward creating more awareness on the importance of safe education architecture. Yesterday’s meeting isn’t the first instance this month in which the AIA has spoken out on the topic. RTA Architects principal Stuart Coppedge, FAIA, presented insights into the collaborative design and community evaluation process to the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Commission on School Safety in early August while members of the AIA’s Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) also gave recommendations for safe school design to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
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AIA creates initiative to avert gun violence in schools

In response to the rising tide of school shootings and subsequent debates over the role and responsibilities architects face in designing schools, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has codified their stance and has launched a bipartisan initiative to help schools secure architectural services. In a statement released earlier today, Where We Stand: School Design & Student Safety, the AIA broke down how it will advocate for schools to improve their design policies and how it will help schools secure funding to do so; notably absent were any specific design prescriptions. “Architects have a role to play in addressing school violence,” wrote AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, in a press release. “For two decades, architects have worked with school communities racked by tragedy to develop better strategies in school design. While public discourse on access to firearms and mental health services remains deadlocked, the power of design can improve school safety now. AIA is committed to working with stakeholders and officials to make schools safer while building the positive, nurturing, learning environments we all want for our children.” To meet those goals, the AIA will be taking a two-pronged approach: lobbying for schools to be able to use federal funding and grants on architectural and design services, and creating a federal repository of best practices for designers to draw on. The AIA already maintains a list of academic design resources and hosts the Committee on Architecture for Education, but wants to create what they describe as a “federal clearinghouse” to serve as a national resource. The AIA is also touting its participation in the two-day 2018 National School Security Roundtable sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security on August 1, in which members fielded suggestions from the community on how to design schools that were safe but still open. Of course, all of this is to say that, as the Institute has itself acknowledged, design is only a piece of the equation and won’t solve the problem in the long run. The AIA says that it wants to create scalable design guidelines based on local feedback from the community and local chapters. As the renewed Sandy Hook School from Svigals + Partners demonstrated, it is possible to balance those concerns in a practical manner, and is a welcome alternative to proposals calling for the "hardening" of schools– such as calls to use federal funding to harden buildings into windowless bunkers.
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AIA to send delegation to Global Climate Action Summit

With buildings responsible for about 47 percent of electricity usage in the U.S., making buildings more efficient should be a top priority in combatting climate change. New York City has already pledged to retrofit its older buildings and slash CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, such action has been left to cities and states to undertake voluntarily. At the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September, businesses, investors, and local and state leaders from across the country will convene to discuss ways to decarbonize the economy and reach a carbon neutral U.S. by 2050. The AIA has announced that it will be sending a delegation headed by President Carl Elefante, FAIA, to represent architects at the summit and come back with a set of scalable best design practices. The AIA members attending will be part of the organization’s sustainability-oriented Committee on the Environment (COTE) and other climate change-related groups. The AIA will also be sponsoring two public events during the summit: Carbon Smart Building Day on September 11 and Climate Heritage Mobilization on September 12 and 13. The summit is meant to in part build momentum for COP24 in December, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Still, even if radical decarbonization guidelines are agreed upon at the summit and adopted by the AIA and business leaders in attendance, such a shift likely wouldn’t be enough to reach the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s target of limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celcius. The Paris Agreement and temperature targets are only reachable if the world were to produce negative emissions and sequester CO2 on a massive scale, a technology that’s still several years away. Still, the AIA has pledged to continue pursuing its sustainability and environmental health goals, as seen in its recent call for a blanket ban on asbestos in building products after the fracas last week.
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AIA calls for blanket ban on asbestos after online uproar

In response to a rush of online outrage on Tuesday, the American Institute of Architects has issued a formal statement detailing its stance on the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos. Today the organization submitted its comment in opposition to the recent decision via the EPA’s online public commentary portal. The comment takes the form of a letter from Sarah Dodge, the AIA’s senior vice president of advocacy and relationships, to acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler. In it, the AIA urges the agency to “establish a blanket ban” on asbestos in the country and phase it out of use. “Either by existing authority or through a significant new use rule, the EPA should review and eliminate the use of asbestos in domestic or imported materials,” the letter says. Dodge explains that it’s the responsibility of architects to ensure the inclusion of healthy materials within building projects, and in instances where hazardous substances already exist inside renovations, it’s up to design professionals to guide involved parties in the safe removal of those toxins. AIA 2018 President Carl Elefante, FAIA, released a separate statement reiterating Dodge’s letter:
The EPA has offered no compelling reason for considering new products using asbestos, especially when the consequences are well known and have tragically affected the lives of so many people. The EPA should be doing everything possible to curtail asbestos in the United States and beyond—not providing new pathways that expose the public to its dangers.
Wheeler wrote in a tweet yesterday that the recent hype regarding the SNUR has been inaccurate. He noted that the SNUR would actually restrict new uses of asbestos, not encourage it. According to the FAQ linked in the tweet, the potential uses for asbestos that would be banned from the market through the SNUR include asbestos-reinforced plastics, extruded sealant tape, millboard, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, roof and non-roof coatings, and other building products. Items such as corrugated paper, rollboard, and flooring felt have already been banned outright in the United States. The FAQ doesn't quite hold up to recent reports on the Obama administration's involvement in restricting these toxic substances and the subsequent products. Under the 2016 amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA), the EPA began the process of evaluating the first 10 toxins listed in order to decipher whether or not they should be banned entirely or further restricted. This week's frenzy over asbestos comes directly from the EPA's May report indicating how the agency would move forward in evaluating those chemicals.  As of yesterday, 154 comments were submitted to the EPA regarding the SNUR. Today, that number has increased to 698. You can still submit a comment to the EPA through tomorrow, August 10. Thereafter the agency will review all comments and further evaluate the initial toxins up for review in the TSCA. Final details of their deliberations and a new version of the rule will be released in December of next year.  
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Asbestos outrage turns toward AIA on Twitter

Architects have taken to Twitter calling out the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for staying silent on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recent decision to allow asbestos back into the manufacturing process for building products on a case-by-case basis. People are now wondering why the AIA has yet to speak up in the wake of national buzz, although at least one AIA official has informally responded online. Architect Donna Sink first brought up the issue of professional ethics: Then the Architecture Lobby, a national nonprofit focused on labor and social issues in the field, responded to Sink's tweet, which provoked an outcry of criticism against the AIA's silence: Some even went so far as to say that any architects who specify asbestos-containing products for their buildings shouldn't be licensed: Even the firm Brooks + Scarpa weighed in: According to a tweet, 2019 AIA vice-president/2020 president-elect Jane Frederick, FAIA, has spoken with current 2018 President Carl Elefante via email to discuss the organization's involvement with the discussion on asbestos. The Architect's Newspaper received word from the AIA as of 1 p.m. today that they will be releasing a comment soon. Stay tuned. The EPA is taking public comments on the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos through this Friday, August 10. At the time of publication, 154 comments have been submitted. Let the EPA know your thoughts here.
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Why are architecture’s major professional organizations silent on the immigrant detention debate?

A preliminary Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to house nearly 100,000 detained migrants across California has been shelved.

 According to a draft Navy memo reported by Time late last week, the military base at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego and the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) east of San Francisco were being eyed as potential sites for “temporary and austere” detention facilities that would hold up to 47,000 detained migrants each over coming months. The plans encountered swift and fierce local opposition from residents and City of Concord officials alike, prompting DHS to unofficially reconsider the plan. Aside from local political opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies—especially with regard to the policy of separating migrant families and detaining separated children under inhumane conditions—locals pointed to the CNWS site’s environmental toxicity and the presence of unexploded munitions on the grounds as additional reasons against its use as a detention facility. The dust-up in California comes as the United States government works to expand the number of migrant detention facilities across the country in order to deal with the rapidly growing number of detainees resulting from its hardline stance against incoming migrants and refugees. The memo uncovered by Time estimates the government is projecting to warehouse up to 25,000 detained migrants over the coming months in abandoned airfields across southern Alabama and in the Florida panhandle in addition to the nearly 94,000 detainees planned for California. There is no word regarding where or whether the detention facilities originally slated for California are being relocated to other sites. The new facilities will join what is quickly becoming a sprawling, nation-wide network of private jail facilities, non-profit-operated detention centers, and now, camps and “tent cities” located on military bases aimed at housing detained migrants. Perhaps nothing has brought this more into focus than recent controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation. Although President Trump recently put a temporary halt to the practice through an executive order, nearly 2,500 children have been separated from their families over the past two months and are now being detained in facilities spanning at least 15 states. According to government figures, roughly 12,000 migrant children overall are currently being held in over 100 facilities across the country, many of which are at or exceed their designated capacities, and some of which are facing allegations of abuse and misconduct, not to mention ill-equipped to handle the mental health, welfare, and legal hurdles these children face. As a result, the nation’s sprawling—and expanding—carceral archipelago has now become a major source of  political, ethical, and moral debate. 

As with the vast for-profit prison system, there are many questions about the ethical and moral implications of designing and constructing these facilities. So far, however, the architectural profession is staying mostly out of the fray, with a few exceptions. Last week, The Architecture Lobby (TAL) and Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a joint statement rejecting the role of architects in designing such detention facilities, stating, “The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on architects, designers, planners and allied professionals to refuse to participate in the design of any immigration enforcement infrastructure, including but not limited to walls, checkpoints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, detention facilities, processing centers, or juvenile holding centers. We encourage owners, partners and employees who find themselves in practices that engage in this work to organize, and deny their labor to these projects.” The statement came as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) held its annual convention in New York City, an event that was marked with a heavy emphasis on the profession’s attempts to overcome the diversity and inclusion hurdles currently faced by the white- and male-dominated profession. It was not long ago that the association drew the ire of its members following the 2016 national election, when AIA CEO Robert Ivy declared that AIA members “stand ready to work” with Trump toward shared goals like infrastructure investments. During last week’s conference, ADPSR attempted to get AIA leadership to endorse its rejection of detention center projects, an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful, though the group is still working to convince the AIA to adpot its position. Raphael Sperry, president of ADPSR, told The Architect’s Newspaper, “People should recognize that immigrants, including currently undocumented people in the United States, contribute greatly to architecture, and always have. There are immigrant and undocumented architects, builders, carpenters, plumbers, welders. We must recognize and respect the contributions of everyone who shapes the built environment, and ensure that our profession and our broader industry respect human rights for everyone.” When reached for comment on the question of whether architects should take on these commissions, Carl Elefante, AIA president, referred AN to the AIA press team. When contacted, a representative of the AIA simply asked, “Why do you think architects are working on these projects?” without providing further comment. Even a casual observer would note that architects are likely fundamental to the development of not only the increasingly ubiquitous detention centers being built across the country, but also, as ADPSR points out, the myriad supportive facilities necessary for DHS to carry out its ongoing efforts to fight so-called “illegal immigration.” Most notoriously, a 200,000-square-foot former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas came under scrutiny in recent weeks as a detention center with a unique claim to fame—the largest detention center for migrant and refugee children. Operated by the privately-run Southwest Key Programs organization, the big-box detention center was converted from a retail store to its current use in 2016 as a result of corporate downsizing and currently holds roughly 1,500 separated children. The conversion likely required building permits, construction drawings, and the like—services that often require architects. It is safe to assume that local jurisdictions would require basic planning approval and permitting for these projects, so it seems natural that architects would somehow be involved in the propagation of these facilities. The silence from professional organizations on the matter is troubling to say the least; as the government ramps up efforts to build more facilities under increasingly hostile terms, it would benefit practitioners and contractors to understand the ethical implications of their work. Furthermore, other professional architectural organizations, like the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), have pushed to have architects and designers engage with migrant and refugee detention centers through design in the past. Last year, ACSA issued a controversial call for its annual steel construction competition, asking participants to design a “Humanitarian Refugee (Detention) Center.” The proposal drew ire from the architectural community as well, prompting the group to shut down the competition in exchange for a different brief issued earlier this year. In a statement announcing the end of the competition, ACSA remarked that it had received “justified​ criticism” over the prompt and that it regretted its decision to publish the competition. When reached for comment this week regarding the current debate surrounding migrant detention centers, a representative said, “ACSA does not have a comment on that issue. We do not take positions on the work that architects choose to take on.” The reticence that professional groups like the AIA and ACSA have toward speaking out against what many consider to be plainly unethical facilities speaks to the profession’s ongoing struggles with racial and ethnic diversity along with human rights concerns. Because detained migrants are being distributed among a network that runs the gamut of structures, from private prisons to improvised tent cities in remote desert sites, the implications of the expanding detention network extends beyond the realm of individual projects and firm-specific business decisions to encompass profession-wide ethical and human rights concerns. The racialized dimension of the immigration debate alongside the architectural profession’s continued lack of diversity present particular challenges for professional organizations and individual firms as they attempt to respond. At stake is whether—or how—the architectural profession will engage with the American immigration debate, and more broadly, with a global refugee crisis that is only due to keep growing in scope and severity as the effects of climate change and resource-driven conflicts spread globally. If AIA and ACSA will not provide leadership during these trying times, who will?