Posts tagged with "AIA":

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How Texas AIA chapters & cultural institutions fared during Hurricane Harvey

Almost two weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm, museums, theaters, and local AIA chapters are reporting widely varying degrees of damage. Some of the best-known museums and other attractions in Houston were relatively unaffected by the rain and flooding that overwhelmed the region, and their collections are secure. Institutions that were mostly spared by the storm include The Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Blaffer Art Museum. Others weren’t so fortunate. Close to where the storm first struck on August 25, the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas, was hit hard. “From images I have been provided and third-party accounts, it appears the building has sustained serious external damage,” director Luis Purón said in a statement posted on the institution's Facebook page shortly after the storm landed. “One image demonstrates that the front porch is completely gone and a roof structure in the front of the building is exposed and thus compromised ... We won’t know about internal damage until we are able to re-enter and inspect the building. The timeline for that is uncertain.” In Houston, Bayou Bend, the house museum of American decorative arts that is part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, suffered “inundated gardens, flooded outbuildings and significant water in the basement of the main house,” museum director Gary Tinterow reported in an email message to colleagues.  Rienzi, the house museum for European decorative arts, had flooding in its gardens, according to the museum’s website. The collections in both buildings are safe but the structures remain temporarily closed to the public and most of the scheduled programs have been canceled, the website notes. In Houston’s Theater District, a 17-block area downtown that is home to a variety of arts organizations and sees more than two million visitors a year, many of the performing venues experienced water penetration, including Jones Hall, home of the Houston Symphony, and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Houston’s Alley Theatre “has been devastated” by the hurricane, with its Neuhaus Theatre and Mitchell lobby under 10 feet of water, and is closed for “the foreseeable future,” according to its website. “We are forced to move to other spaces around Houston to produce our shows, though we expect to be back by the holidays,” one message said. Even the home of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter in Houston was flooded.  AIA Houston had also been renovating a 1906 structure, the B.A. Reisner Building, for Architecture Center Houston, and it took on four feet of water. According to the chapter, the space at 902 Commerce Street was within three weeks of completion and flood mitigation features weren’t fully installed when the storm hit, so the space suffered “almost total devastation.” AIA Houston has launched a $100,000 GoFundMe campaign to help finish construction. Anecdotal examples fail to convey the widespread scope of the damage. Throughout south Texas, houses, stores, and other commercial buildings were damaged either by winds or flooding or both. NBC called it “the greatest rainfall event in the continental United States,” with almost 52 inches of rain reported in one area outside Houston. More than 40,000 people went to shelters and more than 400,000 have sought federal funding assistance. The economic impact has been estimated at more than $100 billion. “This is the largest hurricane to hit Texas in close to 20 years,” said Paul Dennehy, president of the Texas Society of Architects. “We’re talking about 50 inches of rain falling in one place. It’s the equivalent of two weeks of flow of the Mississippi River. No infrastructure can withstand that.” Even though it was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm, Dennehy said, Harvey caused damage in two ways. When it first hit land near Corpus Christi and Rockport, it brought high winds as well as rain, and that alone knocked down trees and destroyed buildings. Then as Harvey became a tropical storm and lingered over Texas, the rain caused massive flooding. The hit-and-miss nature of the damage was due to many factors, from the age and location of buildings to the adequacy of storm drains.  Rural, suburban, and urban areas all were affected. “All of it is terrible,” Dennehy said. “Houston is getting the focus [of national attention] because it’s an urban area. It’s the fourth largest city in the country. But the damage is widespread. There are other areas that are equally devastated. Rockport. Port Aransas. These are areas of total devastation. They were right at ground zero of the hurricane.” As the flood waters recede and efforts shift from rescue to recovery, the AIA is playing a major role in disaster assistance. The National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations have become involved as well. According to public relations manager Matt Tinder, AIA National wants the Texas Society of Architects to take the lead during the initial stages of recovery.  The Texas Society is a statewide AIA organization and oversees 17 chapters around the state. The AIA’s national office has the ability to bring in experts from around the country through its Disaster Assistance Program, which was established in 1972 to “equip architects with the knowledge and skills to mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster.”  But there is little point in sending teams from other states until the flooded areas dry out more, Tinder said. For now, “it is being done through the Texas chapter of the AIA,” Tinder said. “There is going to be a larger effort. But there are architects who are already in Texas and prepared.” Dennehy said it’s appropriate to utilize Texas-based architects first because they are licensed to practice in the state and already familiar with the damaged areas. He said the Texas Society has architects throughout the state who are trained in disaster assistance and has already begun training even more, starting with a session in Austin last Friday. “We are working to mobilize our members,” Dennehy said. “The Texas chapter has more than 7,000. We have had an outpouring of firms that have asked to help. “ Because of the specialized nature of disaster assistance, the Texas Society wants to be sure participants are properly trained, he added. “It’s not that people can just come down to help. You have to have training and be qualified.” Around the country, hundreds of architects and other design professionals and companies have offered to do what they can, said Carl Elefante, the AIA’s 2017 First Vice President and 2018 President Elect, in a posting on Facebook. “AIA National, the Texas Society of Architects, AIA Houston and hundreds of architects around the country are rallying to make a real difference at this time of great need,” he said. For cultural organizations such as museums and theaters that suffered damage, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that it is coordinating efforts to provide assistance. “The NEA expresses its deepest concern and most heartfelt sympathies for the millions of people in Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said agency chair Jane Chu,  in a statement. “We are working to coordinate support for arts organizations in the regions designated a disaster area by FEMA, and we stand ready to support the recovery of the arts and cultural communities in the devastated areas” The NEA has responded to other national emergencies in the past, such as Hurricane Katrina. In this case, “we are coordinating with the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Division of the Arts in the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development to assess the situation and those arts organizations hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey,” Chu said. “As the current situation stabilizes, the National Endowment for the Arts is prepared to direct additional funds to these state arts agencies for re-granting to affected organizations, as we have done in the past.” The U. S. General Services Administration has also taken action to aid in relocation and rebuilding efforts. On Friday, officials announced that the department has raised monetary thresholds for certain purchasing and leasing activities. Raising the thresholds, they say, will help contracting officers gain access to the resources they need. Dennehy, who is based in Fort Worth and heads his own firm there, Dennehy Architects, said Texas architects can benefit from the experience of other states that have been struck by hurricanes and forced to rebuild. “We are joining the ranks of Florida and New Jersey and New York and Louisiana that have been devastated by these storms,” he said. “We have a lot to learn from them.” It won’t be a short process, he warned. “The assessments will go on for months. The recovery efforts will go on for years.” Dennehy said the Texas Society plans to concentrate its efforts initially on storm-damaged areas in Texas, including Rockport, Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur. But if a neighboring state needs assistance, he said, it will respond as well. “Because of the enormity of it, we are focusing on Texas,” he said. But “nobody is going to draw a hard line when it comes to helping. We are going to help each other.”   
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Architects organize as Harvey recovery begins

As flood waters begin to recede in Texas and daylight illuminates the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, many architects are wondering what the next steps will be as recovery plans begin to take shape. The short-term work will be to assess the damage and make the built environment safe for families to return; however, the long-term planning may take months or likely years of advocacy and design to fully implement. The Houston chapter of the AIA, the Texas Society of Architects, and FEMA will begin this week to train architects and engineers as part of the AIA’s Safety Assessment Program (SAP). This program helps to ensure the safety of the public as thousands of families return to their storm-battered houses and business in the coming weeks. Architects can help save millions of dollars for cities along the coast by volunteering to evaluate the habitability of these structures, freeing up funds for life safety and other emergency services. These volunteers will also help to compile data that will be used to develop new response strategies and better inform residents about how to manage the reconstruction of their houses. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Ike back in 2008 in which the flooding conditions were not as severe, though many consider it an early warning of what was to come. According to Rusty Bienvenue, the executive director of AIA Houston, there are a variety of opinions about why the flooding was so extensive, but ultimately, “no city in America is prepared for 35 inches of rain all at once.” Bienvenue cautioned against blaming the extensive flooding wholly on Houston's zoning codes, or rather lack of code, arguing that approach is a narrow analysis of the complex environmental conditions. “We need to look at codes and strengthen them in some cases, but I get grumpy when some blame everything on supposedly bad design in Houston,” he said. Bienvenue indicated that poor regional planning and overbuilding around the reservoirs may have had detrimental effects on Houston's ability to drain its floodwaters during the worst of Hurricane Harvey. He also pointed towards a more pernicious problem, which is the likelihood that the severity of this storm was the result of global climate change. Resiliency planning and design has been a topic of great debate among Texas’ academic institutions, particularly at Rice University’s SSPEED Center in Houston, Texas and Texas A&M’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center in College Station, Texas. These and other issues will be at the forefront of the discourse as designers look for solutions to safeguard American coastal cities.
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AIA and the design community react to Paris Agreement withdrawal

In response to the Trump administration's announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as well as members of the design community, are releasing comments and statements in opposition to the decision. Architects Advocate also penned an open letter urging members of the House of Representatives to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. We will continuously update this story as statements are submitted to The Architect’s Newspaper. Thomas Vonier, FAIA, AIA President:
The United States must remain a leader in the battle to cease harmful and needless practices that damage the planet and its climate, acting out of both environmental concerns and national economic interests. Instead of helping our economy, as the Administration contends, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will put us behind our major global competitors. The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings. We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve: our clients and the public. We will also urge our members throughout the United States and the world to assist cities, states, organizations and citizen groups in meeting the aims of the climate accord. By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America's stature across the globe.
Mahesh Ramanujam, president & CEO, U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI):
As many know the Paris Agreement, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), establishes voluntary actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change mitigation and adaptation—and 194 countries around the world are signatories. The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this and, in so doing, strengthen global partnerships, yet has chosen to walk away. We are deeply disappointed to learn of the Administration’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement today. We are facing an important crossroads and America must keep building. We need to keep building bridges and bonds and breaking barriers in the push for a sustainable future for all. While the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, NGO’s, governments, cities and states, will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward. For 24 years, USGBC has led the green building movement with a strong vision – that buildings, communities, and cities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within this generation. Today, our efforts continue unabated and with stronger than ever commitment and hope. Yes, hope. We are hopeful for the future because we know that our movement is a community of 13 million strong and growing. We are encouraged by their continued commitment to build a sustainable future for all. U.S. companies, including many USGBC members, are already working to address business risks from climate change and to adapt their businesses to domestic and global opportunities created around climate mitigation needs. Businesses and local governments are wisely seeking and investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy. And with platforms like Arc, more and more companies and government entities are tracking their carbon emissions, committing to reduction targets, and taking action. Right now, business as usual is no longer an option. With the work of our organization, our members, our volunteers and many others, we have reached the point where the transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable; but remains urgent. And all around us, we see that there are new leaders who are ready to rise, inspired by the promise of a brighter future for our children and for generations to come. They are the big corporations and small business owners, educators and innovators, scientists and activists, non-profit employees and policy makers, advocates and so many more who are working every day to change our world, definitively, for the better. To these leaders, green building is the key solution to pushing our built environment to be supportive and restorative of all life.
James Miner, AICP, Managing Principal, Sasaki:
It appears that the president has decided to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. We gathered as a firm just yesterday to discuss the importance of moving from intent to action. We also talked about the need to take a stand together at times when our collective values are being called into question. Now is one of those times. As a community of designers that aspire to bring positive change to the world through the power of place, I would like to make clear that our position on climate change remains strong. As we all understand and appreciate, the topic of climate change is one that will far outlast the current political cycle. We cannot and will not change our stance towards responsible stewardship of our planet. Read the full statement from Sasaki here.
Van Alen Institute
This past December, in response to the divisions revealed by the presidential election, we launched Crossroads Conversations on the Red Steps in Times Square. The program, which has since become a multipart series, invited people from all walks of life and political convictions to engage in a ten-minute conversation with a stranger. One participant, a young firefighter from New Orleans, introduced himself with, “I’m a Trump guy.” When the topic of climate change arose, his response was, “It’s undeniable. When you walk outside in Louisiana, you know this isn’t right.” He continued to rattle off statistics about the escalating global temperature, emphasizing the need to address climate change on an international level. Though only a brief moment at the “Crossroads of the World,” the conversation highlighted how the broader national belief in the reality of climate change and faith in science, particularly among younger generations, can overcome last week’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords amid ongoing partisan divide. We can envision a future in which climate change is no longer a politicized issue, in the same way the issue doesn’t divide populations in other countries, where scientific research is the foundation of collective goals. Van Alen Institute’s work in the young firefighter’s home state of Louisiana has renewed our commitment to developing projects that address climate change issues in communities around the world. In that particular region, we served as a key partner with the Environmental Defense Fund and BuroHappold Engineering on Changing Course, a design competition that launched in 2011 to envision a more sustainable Lower Mississippi River Delta; the competition’s findings are now informing regional master plans. Of course, our approach to climate change goes far beyond the Gulf Coast. Back in our own region, we served as a lead partner on Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the structural and environmental vulnerabilities that Hurricane Sandy exposed in communities throughout the region, and develop fundable solutions to better protect residents from future climate events. We invite you to browse all of our climate-related work here.
[Statement from the Van Alen Institute continues on vanalen.org]  
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Taproom and marijuana display win AIA Chicago Small Projects Awards

AIA Chicago has announced this its 2017 Small Projects Awards. The awards celebrate projects with limited budgets and even tighter space constraints. This year’s top honors include a brewery taproom and a medical marijuana display. Citations of Merit went to eight other projects in the Chicago area. This year’s jurors included, Joan Craig, AIA, Lichten Craig Architecture and Interiors; Michael Graham, AIA, Liederbach and Graham Architects; Elissa Morgante, AIA, Morgante Wilson Architects Ltd.; Josh Shelton, AIA, El Dorado Inc.; and Andrea Mills, Editor in Chief Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago. Taking the award for Commercial / Institutional Architecture went to RANGE Design & Architecture an Honor Award for its design of the Hopewell Brewing Company. Located in the Logan Square neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, the spaces if filled with floor-to-ceiling light oak and custom furniture. The bright contemporary interior is designed to reference the brewery’s products. The top award in the Objects category went to Perimeter Architects for their design Dispensary 33—Chicago’s first medical marijuana dispensary. Perimeter designed a custom vacuum sealed cannabis display canister. Pot Holders feature hand-blown glass and millwork. The eight other Citations of Merit awards went to UrbanLab, Tigerman McCurry Architects, Wrap Architecture, Vladimir Radutny Architects, Stewert Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects, and Kuklinski + Rappe Architects.
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AIA slams Trump budget

Today AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA, released the following statement after reviewing the federal budget proposal issued by the Trump administration. At the forefront of Vonier's concerns are massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which threaten efforts to address urban growth, community development, and sustainability. Funds that support AIA events and programs would also disappear. "As the budget process continues, we urge the Administration to seek our guidance as leading experts in design and construction," Vonier said, "before cutting the budget in ways that will hurt our communities."
This budget includes many cuts that will have severe long-term ramifications for our communities and economy. It does away with programs that foster a cleaner environment and strong neighborhoods and it eliminates programs with a proven track record of job creation in the design and construction industry. We are concerned about a proposed 31 percent cut in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Within EPA alone, 50 programs and 3,200 positions would be eliminated. Future federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, which provides grants to architecture programs and conferences sponsored by the AIA, is also being cut. The Federal government plays a vital role in promoting community development, performing research into sustainable and high-performing building technologies and techniques, and helping states and cities address congestion and sprawl through innovative grant programs. Drastic cuts to these initiatives impair the work that architecture firms do in our communities. We are ready to protect investments that affect the work we do on behalf of our clients. In fact, almost 800 design and construction businesses Thursday sent a letter coordinated by the AIA to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, calling for the continuation of important programs. And we will echo these calls across all agencies for all of the programs vital to our work. Federal budgets always require making tough choices, and wasteful or ineffective programs should be ended. But this budget's short-term cuts to programs that work will end up costing us much more in the long-term. As the budget process continues, we urge the Administration to seek our guidance as leading experts in design and construction, before cutting the budget in ways that will hurt our communities.
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AIA issues statement on immigration; expresses “deep concern” over Trump’s travel ban

Today the AIA released a statement outlining its position on immigrants and migration.

“Beyond the essential considerations of fairness and equity, restrictions targeting specific areas of the world can have profoundly negative business impacts,” said AIA President Thomas Vonier, in a statement. “Professional service exports are a key contributor to AIA member firms and their earnings. In fact, the entire international building development, design, and construction sector relies heavily on reciprocal treatment and on the fair and ethical ability to travel, reside and work across national boundaries.”

The statement conveys the need for borders that permit easy travel to and from projects abroad and facilitate the recruitment and retention of top talent. The organization also decried the negative ripple effect of the president’s onerous travel ban, and "[expressed] deep concern about policies that restrict immigration from specific countries or regions based on overly broad factors, including religion."

The stance is a sharp pivot from just three months ago when the organization pledged to work with the Trump administration on his infrastructure projects, a position the AIA walked back on after members protested.

Full text and supporting materials can be read here.

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UPDATE: Architects protest as no women architect keynote speakers selected for AIA national convention

The following letter was sent to the Architect's Newspaper in response to the announcement of the 2017 AIA National Convention's Keynote Speakers. Signed by 50 architects, firms, and architecture students, the letter calls for the AIA to take a more meaningful action on advocating for gender equality in the architecture profession. UPDATE: The AIA has added a special keynote on day three of the conference titled "Anticipate Change - What’s Next in Architecture," featuring Nóra Demeter (Int’l. Assoc. AIA) of Demeter Design Studio, Michael Ford (Assoc. AIA) of BRANDNU DESIGN, and Cheryl McAfee (FAIA) of McAfee3. The panel will be moderated by Frances Anderton of the weekly radio show DnA. Where is the Female Representation: shouldn’t we ALL be outraged? How is it that the AIA could not come up with a single female architect as a keynote speaker at the convention? If you have not seen the AIA’s keynote speaker list for their newly rebranded national convention, it is shocking to see that out of the seven speakers listed only one is a woman (and she is not even an architect). In what seems to be a string of missteps by the AIA, this announcement of the keynote speaker list for the national convention is not surprising. AIA CEO Robert Ivy and AIA President Russ Davidson recently apologized to the architecture community for their ill-conceived letter of support of the Trump administration which does not respect women and minorities. Ivy and Davidson, also, announced a nationwide listening tour to find out what the AIA membership wanted. After additional criticism of that response, Ivy and Davidson produced a video apologizing for a second time and promised to commit $1 million to boost diversity in architecture. The financial support is a weak attempt to cover their errors in judgment and misrepresenting the desires of AIA membership, specifically, and all architects in general. The AIA currently dedicates a small corner of the national website to the Equity in Architecture Commission with a generically worded “Diversity and Inclusion Statement.” The stunningly short statement totals 175 words, including title and dates, and merely ensures rights that are already protected by federal law. Apparently, the apologies are only lip service. The organization continues to not put equity issues front and center in ALL of its programming and events. Why are they only TALKING about change and not MAKING change? In their annual conference literature, the AIA states “it’s about tapping into the collective intellect and entrepreneurial spirit of architects and design professionals who are shaping our industry.” However, their actions speak volumes against such sentiments. The keynote panel is in no way representative of our collective intellect. If the AIA was serious about changing its image—and we do not mean a superficial marketing strategy—then they should lead the profession and put forward a panel of keynote speakers that is reflective of the diversity in architecture. When the AIA states that they are committed to “broadening equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession of architecture through dedicated leadership,” we must ask where are the diverse leaders? A recap of the AIA leadership as it relates to equity issues can be found in the 2012 Places article by Gabrielle Esperdy titled, “The Incredibly True Adventures of the Architectress in America.” The article thoroughly documents the history of the AIA’s refusal to act on behalf of women members. Particularly depressing is the fact that women pressed for these same issues of equality in the 1970s. The latest Equity by Design report seems to indicate that while our schools continue to graduate almost 50% women into the field, keeping women once they have entered the profession has reached a point of stagnation. We are calling for a more active and aggressive stance on equity by the AIA, starting with the National Convention keynote speaker line-up. Following this, we request more diverse representation on the AIA board and presence for the Equity by Design initiative on the AIA National website. If you are equally outraged by the lack of female representation for keynote speakers at the AIA convention we encourage you to reach out to your AIA boards and the national organization including CEO Robert Ivy (robertivy[at]aia.org). Tell them the following: 1 – That you are outraged 2 – Who you would like to see as a keynote speaker Making the AIA leadership aware of our outrage and changing the demographics of the keynote speakers at one convention is clearly not a solution to the larger issues of systemic homogeny in the organization. But it is a step in the right direction and will show the leadership that we expect more than platitudes on issues of diversity and inclusivity within the AIA. Signed Mo Zell, RA, Women in Design - Milwaukee Jori Ann Erdman, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP Ali Kopyt, AIA, NCARB Angie Tabrizi, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Ursula Twombly, AIA Patricia Frost, AIA Allyson Nemec, AIA, LEED AP, Past President AIA WI Paula Verboomen, AIA Kristin Dufek, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP Alexa Wojciechowicz Angela Kehl, Allied ASID Taruna Gupta Ganesh Nayak Barbara Hughes Ellie Lange Shannon Criss Marie-Alice L'Heureux, PhD, AIA, NCARB Kathryn e. Martin-Meurer Ai Csuka Lyssa Olker Bridget Owen Erica Chappelear Vaishali Wagh RA, LEED AP Kathy Osowski Rosheen Styczinski, PLA  FASLA Sara A. Maas Patricia S. Algiers, ASID, CNU-Accredited Maria Wenzel, Associate AIA Nicole Craanen Nikole Bouchard Rachel Momenee Nancy Chu Layla Qarout, LEED GA Brian K Schermer Mark Keane Linda Keane, AIA, NCARB, (office of STUDIO 1032) Emma Price Don Hanlon Matt Rinka AIA NCARB (and firm of Rinka Chung) Chris Cornelius Mike Utzinger, RA, PE Karen W. Plunkett, AIA Jacki Kinney Laura Gainer Nader Sayadi Kyle Reynolds Jennifer L. Lehrke, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB Melinda Pogwizd
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AIA gives $1 million to boost diversity in architecture—but there’s a problem

After fielding a blizzard of negative reactions to Robert Ivy's tone-deaf promiseand double apology—to work with President-elect Donald Trump, the AIA is trying to beef up its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the profession. Last week the AIA board of directors announced it will put $1 million towards its Diversity Advancement Scholarship, a fund that aims to improve diversity, inclusion, and equity for people entering the field. The money augments the $1 million the board put towards the AIA Foundation–administered fund in 2013. Unbelievably, the scholarship's description page says, now and today, that it's intended to help architects and planners—specifically black architects and planners—be better equipped to practice in the "inner city," a place where most black people don't even live. To complement the scholarship, the board adopted recommendations of the Equity in Architecture Commission, led by Emily Grandstaff-Rice, senior associate at Boston-based Arrowstreet. In its work, the group identified reasons why marginalized groups, particularly women and people of color, are not adequately represented in the field. The report, which should come out in the first quarter of 2017, includes actionable recommendations to boost diversity and inclusion. “We are years away from true equity within the profession, but the path forward is beginning to take shape,” said Grandstaff-Rice, in a statement. “A seismic shift in architecture is underway, but it will take vigilance and continuous assessment to make equity in design a reality.” These are the three publicly available takeaways from the forthcoming report:
  • Expose children and families to architecture through K–12 Programs, with elements that help underrepresented groups to discover architecture.
  • Develop self-assessment tools to collect data on diversity and inclusion issues in the biannual AIA Firm Survey, and use results to establish best practices.
  • Create and publish best practice guidelines for architectural practices, covering such themes as career progression, work culture, pay equity, and talent recruitment.
Readers, what do you think of these initiatives? Is the AIA's commitment to diversity and inclusion genuine, or is it a close-the-barn-door PR response to #NotMyAIA? Let us know in the comments.
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AIA makes major misstep on Donald Trump

In the weeks since the presidential election, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has drawn ire from architectural professionals for releasing a post-election memo containing conciliatory and supportive language for President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to embark on a $500 billion infrastructure building program.

Robert Ivy, AIA executive vice president and CEO, released a statement on behalf of the national AIA apparatus and membership, saying in part, “The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. The memo continued, “We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals, and other public infrastructure continue to be a major priority.”

In response, The Architect’s Newspaper issued a rebuttal challenging Ivy’s magical thinking relating to the scarcely-detailed, so-called infrastructure plan put forth by the President-elect and the fundamental lack of leadership inherent in pledging blind support to a political movement expressly aligned with xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, and climate change-denying ideals.

We wrote: “It is anathema to this editorial board to fathom the positive impact of such a work of infrastructure as the proposed border wall or its attendant detention centers, federal and private prisons, and militarized infrastructure that would be necessary in order to achieve the President-elect’s stated deportation policy goals. To ignore the role design and designers could play in instituting and perpetuating the inequality inherent in the racist patriarchy of Trump’s ideology embodies is irresponsible and reprehensible.”

AN’s response was buttressed by supporting statements from dozens of architects, designers, and academics from across the field. As a consequence, Ivy issued an apology directly to AN saying, “The AIA remains firmly committed to advocating for the values and principles that will create a more sustainable, inclusive, and humane world. The spirit and intention behind our statement is consistent with and in support of President Obama’s eloquent call for us all to unite for the best interest of America’s future.”

The statement did little to quell fury in the architectural community, with members openly calling for Ivy’s resignation and at least one AIA member, Fritz Reed of Baltimore, resigning in protest. After members continued to express disapproval at AIA leadership, Ivy and AIA National President Russ Davidson issued an additional apology via video pledging to engage in listening sessions with AIA membership to better articulate a future vision for the organization and the profession. Moving forward, as Ivy and AIA leaders begin to plan these listening sessions, AN reiterates its initial pledge to stand in solidarity with AIA members and those who advocate for an inclusive, diverse, and morally responsible profession aiming to address climate change, promote equitable urbanism, and fight for design quality in the built environment.

AN will continue to listen to the architectural and design community and help articulate ways for the profession to move forward in support of the goals stated above and help lead the resistance to forces that aim to undermine the pursuit of those values.

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AIA Media Relations Director resigns in wake of AIA/Trump controversy

The AIA's post-Presidential election controversy continues to grow. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has learned that Scott Frank, the AIA's Senior Director of Media Relations, has resigned in response to the AIA's handling of the crisis. According to our sources, his resignation was due to the AIA's severe mishandling of the situation. The AIA reportedly ignored Frank's advice and, in his view, demonstrated a total lack of accountability. AN will continue to report on this story as it evolves. See our previous coverage of architects voicing their outrage of the AIA's pledge of cooperation with the incoming Trump administration, how one Baltimore architect resigned from the AIA in protest, and the second video apology of Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA.
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UPDATED: Architects continue to denounce AIA, AN has collected outcry here

Architects, architecture firms, and advocacy groups continue to denounce the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and more specifically, AIA CEO Robert Ivy over a tone-deaf post-election memo issued by the figurehead pledging support for President-Elect Donald Trump’s so-called infrastructure initiatives. The memo, which used open-ended language to embrace the candidate’s pledge to embark on a $500 million infrastructure program, has been panned across the field for ignoring the openly racist and climate change-denying rhetoric propagated by the now-incoming administration. UPDATED: AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils. As a result, the statement—which stood in stark contrast to many of the AIA’s own stated social and environmental professional and policy goals—alienated and potentially endangered rank-and-file AIA membership, especially women and members of minority groups. UPDATE: Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism. The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) has been collecting the outpouring of criticism and commentary over the last few days, as wave after wave of individuals, firms, and organizations continue to speak out against the AIA and Ivy, with a growing chorus calling for the CEO’s resignation. Attempts Monday night to quell the backlash have involved a flat-footed apology issued Satruday night as well as a more heartfelt video apology posted online by AIA National president Russ Davidson issued a recorded apology Monday night that has apparently fallen on deaf ears. Watch: Robert Ivy issues second apology for tone-deaf post-election memo See below for a selection of statements collected from comments on our Facebook posts and articles, as well as direct messages to the AN editorial team and public press releases. 
“Dear AIASF Members and Friends, The elected leadership of AIA San Francisco (AIASF) met this afternoon and dedicated a significant portion of its board meeting to discuss the post-election statement issued by Robert Ivy, FAIA, of AIA National, made without our input or knowledge, that purported to speak on behalf of its 89,000 members. As many of you have expressed to us over the past week, this message does not represent the view of our members, nor did it communicate the ethics or core values of the Institute. AIA National has since issued a video apology. AIASF is non-partisan and does not support candidates. We support policies. We would like to reassure our 2,300+ members in the Bay Area that we will continue to advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion, resilience, and for the advancement of the profession, built environment, and success of all citizens on behalf of its members. We remain dedicated to advancing equitable practice in the workplace and the communities we serve. We recognize that our environment and climate are changing, and resilience of the built environment and continued commitment to AIA’s 2030 initiatives are paramount to the continued success of our society. We are San Francisco, and are fortunate to practice in one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the world. AIASF will continue to serve as the collective voice of progress, empathy, and inclusion, and urges AIA National to operate with the same considerations when it speaks on behalf of all members. AIASF is our organization – we are comprised of individual members, and our members contribute to our collective strength. We encourage you to reach out and join us with your thoughts – positive, negative, neutral – so that we may collect and share them with AIA National. Our first action is to convene a town hall meeting on December 2 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM at the AIASF headquarters office. With your input, we will craft an action plan designed to continue to affect positive change in our professional association, our community, and the built environment. In addition, please email membervoices@aiasf.org with your suggestions for how this organization can best respond to the challenges facing us as a community. We are here for you, and are committed to addressing your concerns.” #weareAIASF Aaron Jon Hyland, AIA 2016 AIASF President
   
“In the wake of the response by AIA members to AIA CEO Robert Ivy’s post-election statement, the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) would like to reaffirm our core values. Above all, TxA is committed to being the voice for Texas architecture, supporting the creation of safe, beautiful, and sustainable environments. Furthermore, TxA stands behind AIA’s stated Diversity and Inclusion Goals (see below). TxA acknowledges that much of the presidential campaign rhetoric, prior actions, and statements of the president-elect seem to be in contradiction to our core values and those of the AIA. We anticipate learning more about the intentions of the new administration in the coming weeks and months, and will support those policies aligned with our core values and speak out against those which are not. TxA and its membership will continue to promote the design of spaces that serve our communities and are inclusive, as well as continuing to seek greater diversity within the profession, no matter which political party is in the majority. Architects have an important role to play in designing and building a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable society for the future. We know architects of all political parties will continue to use their skills and voices to promote the highest ideals of design, as our aging infrastructure is renewed, as well as the ideals of our nation, including life, liberty, and justice for all.
  1. Civil rights The AIA supports the promotion of human and civil rights, the universal respect for human dignity, and the unbiased treatment of all persons in employment, civic, and business transactions.
  2. Diversity The AIA recognizes that diversity is a cultural ethos – a way of thinking or acting that fosters inclusion and enhances our membership, our profession, and the quality of life in our communities. Embracing this culture of diversity, all programs and initiatives of the AIA and its members shall reflect the society that we serve, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities, or religious practices. The AIA supports the development of policies and programs that endeavor to ensure equal access to professional degrees in architecture for those who are underrepresented in our profession.
- Texas Society of Architects (link to original, full release here)
“Dear AIANY Members, The statement made post-election by AIA National on behalf of you, the largest chapter within its network of 89,000 members, pledged your support to an administration that many strongly denounce. The Board of Directors of AIA New York was not consulted by AIA National leadership prior to their decision to support President-Elect Trump’s yet undefined infrastructure agenda, and we do not condone their statement. The leadership of the New York Chapter would like to reassure our membership and extended community that we reject the violent rhetoric that has pervaded the recent presidential campaign and we oppose any association with it. We believe in inalienable rights, regardless of creed or nation of origin; gender or sexual orientation; language of birth or skin color. Architects, by training, are fundamentally committed to providing shelter and protecting the safety and wellbeing of all people. Civil dialogue, reciprocal respect, and the protection of human rights are essential to this activity and are vital characteristics of the profession. These principles are not only our human values; they underpin the practice of our profession. We believe in equity in design and its benefits to all, especially in the critically needed areas of affordable housing, safe schools, and accessibility. We will continue to espouse fair and ethical business practices throughout the building industry. And, we remain committed to mitigating climate change and protecting New Yorkers from its unavoidable consequences. We are fortunate that the New York Chapter functions in one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the world. To this end, AIA New York is committing to increasing programming and exhibitions that promote a more inclusive America and address the needs, concerns and principles of you, our members. We are first and foremost a membership organization, and our members are our strength. As members, your insights will drive our future actions. We want to hear from you. Please email membervoices@aiany.org with your suggestions for how this organization can best respond to the challenges you see facing us as a community. We are committed to addressing your concerns. Sincerely, The Board of Directors American Institute of Architects New York Chapter” (link to original release here)
“As a national organization that has representation in each of the 50 United States, the AIA is in the unique position to frame a conversation among what is, no doubt, a politically diverse constituency.    While uniting as a nation immediately following this election may be too much to ask, we should be using every opportunity to have honest and open discussion—as difficult as that may be. We urge Robert Ivy and AIA leadership across the country to recognize the need for these important conversations and create space for them immediately—through gatherings, panels, online forums, lectures and other avenues. Architecture is a fundamentally discursive and collaborative discipline and as a diverse community of professionals we should seize the opportunity engage each other in dialogue.” - Basar Girit, Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, Wes Rozen and Bradley Samuels, Founding Partners, SITU Studio
“The AIA statement is the usual kind of response by a professional association after an election. But in this instance, it is part of the normalization of Donald Trump, which is a dangerous and deluded process. Trump is not the usual kind of American politician and we must not treat him as such. Architects must devise a different kind of response to make sure our values, priorities, and concerns are heard in Washington and around the country” - Clifford Pearson, Director of the USC School of Architecture’s American Academy in China
“As Hon. FAIA I am dishonoured by the AIA self-serving, and TOTALLY unnecessary statement.” - Phyllis Lambert
The United States is about to pass through what is perhaps its worst crisis since the Civil War. The First Amendment of our Constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The President-Elect, meanwhile, has promised to place a moratorium on the entry of Muslims into this country; he has incited racial hatred and has sanctioned sexual assault; he abhors dissent. His views pose a mortal threat to the liberal principles on which our social institutions—our schools and universities, our professional organizations and civic bodies—rest. His promises—yes, his promises—have compelled states such as New York and California to reaffirm their sacred obligations to their citizens. They have compelled schools and universities around the country to the same. It appears inevitable that the Trump presidency will cause a constitutional crisis once his tenure begins. That the AIA chose last week to offer a categorical pledge of loyalty to the President-Elect is beyond comprehension. It reminds me of similar pledges that the Confederation of German Architects made in Nazi Germany. That it did not consult its membership prior to issuing its memo makes me sad for this country, very sad. It suggests that some of us have already forgotten what it means to live in a democratic society. It also tells me that maybe, just maybe, some of us may not even care. The AIA’s actions represent a violation of its core mission, as the editorial board of The Architects’ Newspaper rightly and so courageously note. They represent a betrayal of trust to the AIA membership body. They have further endangered the lives of those which the incoming administration has demonized. They may also be illegal, especially if, as I anticipate, a constitutional crisis announces itself on January 20. Hatred in and of itself is ugly and dangerous. Hatred fueled by capitalism is a recipe for humanitarian disasters. Unconditional or even conditional cooperation with the incoming administration may destroy the AIA and do irreparable harm to the reputation of the architectural profession in this great country. The AIA's exposure to legal liability could well grow exponentially. The American Civil Liberties Union will be watching. Human rights groups will be watching. The eyes will be on the street.” - Nader Vossoughian, New York Institute of Technology
“What a remarkably missed opportunity. We live in a continuously evolving world and our role is to foster that evolution rather than to abet in the construction of a world that no longer exists. Rather than issuing empty but damaging statements, the AIA should sponsor a national conversation about the public possibilities and extraordinary relationships that architecture can generate.” - Sarah Whiting, Rice School of Architecture
“Dear Mr. Ivy, We were dismayed to read this week that, as members and supporters of the AIA, we had offered our unqualified support for President-Elect Trump and the 115th Congress. We are  ashamed that our professional organization decided that the prospect of public commissions for a very few of us was important enough to silence concerns about the specter of an anti-elitist society defined by racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and the denial of science. As members and supporters of the AIA and Equity in Architecture, we have worked hard to demonstrate that our profession, like our society at large, harbors systemic racial and gender biases that have real impacts upon our professional outcomes, and upon our firms’ bottom lines. This work demonstrates that our profession continues to overlook this systemic injustice at our own peril -- we are losing talent by failing to create healthy, equitable, meaningful and culturally diverse work environments for all professionals. Please recognize that, in word and in action, you perpetuated our profession’s white, male privilege when you offered the Institute’s support for a person known for promoting a worldview that threatens to pit us against one another on the basis of our race, gender, creed, or sexual orientation. These beliefs do not reflect who we are, nor do we believe that they reflect the core values we are responsible for upholding as a profession. These include: sustainability through dedication to climate action, promotion of domestic and global projects that are humane and socially just, and equity, diversity and inclusion in both practice and representation. Chancellor Merkel’s statement on the election, which declares that her country and ours share common values of “democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position,” is exemplary as a way in which the AIA could have offered qualified support for the new administration on the basis of our values. Yes, we believe in infrastructure, but that belief is subsidiary to our belief that we have an important role to play in building a just, fair and transparent society. As architects, we are often tasked with working on behalf of many while in consultation with a powerful few. It is our responsibility to reflect and protect the communities that we serve, which often means advocating for those who haven’t been included in the decision-making process. We do not simply provide our clients with what they initially tell us they want to see, but instead work with them to envision a future in which they are their best selves and protect our planet for future generations. This is what architects do. This is the value that we provide, and the basis for our continued relevance. In offering our profession’s unequivocal support for the incoming administration, we believe that the AIA has fallen short of our duty to the communities that we serve. We have failed to speak truth to power, and have instead offered a willingness to capitulate to an unpardonable worldview because we are enticed by the pursuit of new commissions. We have countermanded years of hard work on our profession’s relevance and on equity within the profession with a statement that suggests that we are simply “yes”-people who rubber stamp the beliefs of those who pay our bills. We owe our society—and each other—better than this. In the very near-term, we would urge the AIA to establish an ongoing—and public—forum in which leaders from all levels of practice are invited to reflect upon the Institute's core values, and the value that our profession provides to society. This could be launched at the national plenary broadcast of the Center for Civic Leadership’s Forum on Friday, November 18th. In addition, we believe that the AIA must reaffirm that equity, diversity and inclusion is central to our professional mission. The upcoming Build America Summit on November 29 - 30th, hosted by AIA President Russ Davidson, affords our profession the opportunity to declare that we must renew and rebuild our country's social infrastructure upon the basis of mutual respect, empathy and concern for the health, safety and well-being of all who live in our communities. We would hope that this issue be addressed in the opening session on "Neglect, decline, and consequence," and featured in any policy recommendations that are delivered to the incoming administration. In the long term, we look forward to continuing to work with the AIA to foster and advocate for a profession that exemplifies sustainability, equity, diversity and inclusion by championing the communities that we serve. Equity is for Everyone. In solidarity, - Annelise Pitts, Assoc. AIA; Rosa Sheng, AIA; Lilian Asperin, AIA; Saskia Dennis-van Dijl; Julia V. Mandell, AIA, The Equity Alliance Note: These views solely represent our thoughts alone and do not represent that of any other individuals or groups who support our efforts as we cannot speak for them.”
“On November 9, 2016, the American Institute of Architects resigned itself to a cowardly position of economic and political subservience with its support of President-Elect Trump. The AIA’s refusal to take a principled stance on an incoming administration that galvanized support through hatred, divisiveness, and fear constitutes an abdication of its self-proclaimed responsibility to speak on behalf of architects and a contradiction of its own stated beliefs. We, the undersigned students of the Yale School of Architecture, unequivocally denounce the AIA’s endorsement of the new status quo. For too long, our profession has been complicit in giving form to landscapes of inequality and discrimination, and has itself been plagued by a history of racial and gender inequity. The AIA’s immediate and unquestioning pandering to the Trump administration threatens a continuation of our troubled past and demonstrates a willingness to pursue financial gain at the expense of our values. With the promise of renewed federal investment in infrastructure, the position of architects as conscientious stewards of the built environment has never been more important. We believe it is paramount for the AIA to protect and maintain the integrity, quality, and security of the built and natural environments at every level. The organization has long recognized climate change and touted “energy conservation... as well as aggressive development and harvesting of energy from renewable sources.” It professes a commitment to “the promotion of human and civil rights, the universal respect for human dignity, and the unbiased treatment of all persons in employment.” It claims to promote “design that engenders greater community health [as a] way to not only save costs, but to enhance the lives of individuals.” These principles must not bend to opportunism in the face of a new administration. If we are to unite in the best interest of America’s future, it will be with our values intact. We cannot afford to relinquish the agency of our craft to those who would use it for self-serving political gain. We have an ethical responsibility not to erect walls that divide, but to lay the foundation for a more unified, just, and safe society. We stand firmly behind the following principles, which we believe are greatly imperiled by the position of the AIA: We believe in the social value of architecture and the moral agency of architects. We believe human values are more important than material values. We will work to mitigate the effects of the built environment on climate change. We will resist individuals, institutions, and systems that exploit people and land for power and profit. We will continue our commitment to promoting equality and diversity within the profession. We will exclusively contribute to the creation of a built environment that is equal, just, and safe for all people.” - Students of the Yale School of Architecture
“Fellow Architects, this is a call to action. The AIA National statement is flawed in so many ways, and I am grateful to all of you for calling it out. By writing and sharing your opinion, you are taking action. This is the most important thing we must do now. In taking action, we must also do so smartly. Having been a Board Member of AIA Chicago in the past, and being connected with the broader AIA community ever since, I know, without a doubt, that the AIA statement is a case of a well-intended communication poorly executed. Today, we need AIA more than ever before. This is no time to pick the wrong fight. By confusing the goal to remain bipartisan with the urgent need to aggressively call out attention to such issues as 97% scientific consensus, the AIA is proving its own limitation. But remember, we are AIA. The ultimate responsibility to figure this out rests with us, the members. We have to take this into our own hands, get organized, and force the change we know is needed. This approach will strengthen all AIA efforts as an added benefit. Our grass roots coalition, Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change, revolves around one specific topic for the sake of focus. However, now is the time for our platform to be adopted by any and all of you: I ask you to launch Architects Advocate for Action on Affordable Housing, Architects Advocate for Gender and Pay Equality, you name it. Take it and run with it. Your actions will speak louder than your words. With regard to Climate Change, we are facing an emergency. The President-elect has called human-caused climate change a hoax, has vowed to dismantle the Paris Agreement that sets targets to reverse the worst effects of global warming - which nearly 200 countries agreed to last December – and has tapped a climate-change skeptic to oversee the transition of the EPA. In order to get ready and organized to fight the impending assault on scientific consensus, healthy and livable communities, and reason, we urge you to join Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change: www.architects-advocate.com. Today, there are over 150 architecture firms nationwide in our coalition, but we need 1,500. Fast. Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change plans to send a letter to every U.S. Congress member, as well as the President-elect, detailing the case for needed Action on Climate Change, and imploring all elected officials to support the Paris Agreement. We plan to list the names of every supporting company on the letter. It is important to remember that only a minority of members of Congress, approximately one third, are denying climate science. The other two-thirds acknowledge the scientific consensus and already support action or are likely persuadable. There is a silver lining as a result of this election if we – the architecture profession - are ready to seize it. This can become the moment in time when we architects realized that being apolitical is no longer an option. Being political does not mean fueling the flames of partisanship, on the contrary. It means recognizing the urgent need to engage more effectively where decisions are made that affect us all. We can demonstrate what it means when citizens take their civic responsibilities seriously, and we can model the kind of behavior we wish to see in others. Onward, upward—by taking action now,” - Tom Jacobs, Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change
“To members of AIA Chicago: The AIA Chicago Board of Directors wants to assure our members that we do not support the recent statement made by national AIA on November 10, which prematurely expressed the support of AIA’s 89,000 members for an unarticulated infrastructure agenda made by the incoming presidential administration. Further, we are committed to working with all of you to deepen our diversity and inclusion initiatives, and to continue the discussions that affect positive change on issues that are critical to our profession. We believe in and are dedicated to:
  • Supporting our members, our committee leaders, our board and our staff as we engage, educate and challenge our elected leaders locally, regionally and nationally on the issues faced by architects;
  • Assuring that the built environment addresses the realities of climate change;
  • Creating more equitable opportunities for all in our profession regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation;
  • Upholding our professional standards of creating spaces that are safe and promote equality for our clients and the public;
  • Building stronger and more resilient communities, including urban, suburban and rural areas in which our members practice and live.
AIA Chicago vows to continue work that is already underway to give all members a voice on how these goals can be achieved now and long into the future. To do this, we need all of you to continue to engage in the work of our chapter and continue to express your views and opinions. It is in working together that we can accomplish the most and make the greatest impact. Your voice will keep us moving forward. Respectfully, Dawn Schuette, FAIA 2016 Board President Matthew Dumich, AIA 2016 First Vice President 2017 Board President Anthony P. LoBello, AIA 2015 Board President Scott Rappe, AIA 2014 Board President” (link to original release here)
“Seen before. From my experience during the disintegration of values from former Yugoslavia, this does not look better for architects, artists and for everyone in general, not also for our kids that we have now in the U.S. Yet, there are ways of organizing that are sustaining the upcoming pressure of sheer suspense as the U.S. President-Elect was offering without explanation. Many of us experienced this suspense in Yugoslavia during the 1990s (during Clinton administration and Milosevic dictatorship). At the time, as architects without jobs nor future, we figured ways how to go through it together in all our distinctions. It is the human interaction that matters first and always. For my American friends and colleagues, please do not think that the system will protect you. It will not in this administration. It will only exacerbate the divide between architectural culture and [economic] status to the point of being unmanageable at some point, for both. So we have a lot of work to do together, and skill set of architecture can play a large role to go through this new political situation. As Winston Churchill said: 'If you are going through Hell, keep going.'” - Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, NAO
“Dear Mr. Ivy: On behalf of the Boston Society of Architects/AIA I am writing to share our shock and disappointment with last week’s post-election statement expressing the Institute’s willingness to work with Presidentelect Trump and members of the 115th Congress. While we support the need for design professionals and AIA members to work together to move the country forward, and the country’s need to address failing infrastructure, this statement fails to acknowledge the serious contradictions between the Trump campaign and the AIA’s own mission and values. The conciliatory and congratulatory tone of last week’s message in response to the election is at odds with the very goals and values articulated by the AIA. We agree with the Architect’s Newspaper. It would be irresponsible and reprehensible to “ignore the role design and designers could play in instituting and perpetuating the inequality inherent in the racist patriarchy Trump’s ideology embodies.” We wish to reaffirm our commitment to AIA’s goals of Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability, and Resiliency, and the fundamental belief that architects have the skills and resources to serve the greater needs of our communities. We believe this is the message we should be sending to both Presidentelect Trump and the 115th Congress. Sincerely, Tamara Roy AIA President, Boston Society of Architects/AIA” (link to original release here)
"After taking a few days off to regroup and process what our work means in the face of a Trump presidency, QSPACE is now ready to act. AIA CEO Robert Ivy’s comments that "The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with president-elect Trump" are unnecessary, tone deaf, and an insult to to marginalized groups within the architectural field. We call on Robert Ivy and the AIA to clarify their statement and to explain how they will work with the Trump administration in compliance with their own ethics policies. Rule 1.401 states “Members shall not discriminate in their professional activities on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation.” Donald Trump has proven time and time again that he does not intend to run a country that treats people equally. And how will the AIA still advocate for sustainability (Rule E.S. 6.3) with a president who doesn’t believe in climate change? Will the AIA address the treatment of architects who have been cheated out of pay by the Trump Organization as they pledge architects’ commitment to work with him as President? We are scared. We are angry. We are determined. We will speak out. We will act. We have a lot to of work to do. Years of progress for the LGBTQ community under Obama are under threat. As LGBTQ people, we must actively lift up the most vulnerable members of our community: transgender people, people of color, immigrants, women, queer people in less-tolerant demographics, and other folks marginalized by Trump. As architects, we must promise to design a more inclusive future for all. We will organize action in cities while simultaneously reaching out to rural areas and the spaces in between. We will leverage the intersection of queer identity and architecture to make political change. QSPACE takes our promise of organized and collective action seriously― look out for events in the coming weeks and months. And as always, reach out to us for support or with idea." - QSPACE (Link to original statement here)
"Full disclosure, I'm not an AIA member. I'm the director of SCI-Arc and I cannot assume that everybody thinks in the same way in our school , so my comments are coming from my own points of view. I am disturbed that the leadership of the AIA decided to speak on behalf of its entire 89,000 member constituency, and by implication architects in general, without consultation and public debate. Beyond the process by which it was released, I thought the statement itself was insensitive and tone-deaf to the tensions of this moment in American history. It seemed overly focused on commercial opportunities and blind to other demands for service to the public (which incidentally is an entire section of the AIA's own code of ethics). Architecture is not just a business. It is also a way of representing in built form what we think is important. It is a platform for questioning what we thought was important in the past. It is a way of working that enables necessary conversations in the present. If the AIA becomes nothing more than a lobbyist for the commercial interests of the largest corporate architectural practices, architects should question what their membership in the AIA actually means. If we've learned anything during this election, it's that words matter more than ever. Speaking to each other matters more than ever. Thinking about the world we build for ourselves and future generations matters more than ever. The discipline of architecture is thousands of years old, but architecture has been professionalized for less than two hundred (the AIA was founded in 1857). Because of the AIA's relative youth compared to the entire history of architecture, we can only assume that what it is and what it does is still very much up for debate." Hernan Diaz Alonso, Dean of Southern California Institute of Architecture
“I am not a practicing architect, but I found the AIA’s rapid embrace of Donald Trump’s infrastructure program to be deeply troubling. We have few details of this program, but all of the campaign rhetoric thus far suggests that this “infrastructure” program is nothing short of a massive attempt to privatize public resources and amenities, akin to this administration’s recent proposals to replace Medicaid with a privatized voucher system. Rather than align ourselves with such efforts – ones likely to increase inequality, concentrate wealth, take indigenous land, and speed up climate change– we must now all press hard for maintaining infrastructure as a public amenity, as a necessary precondition for good architecture, and as something we cannot release to corporate control.” - Meredith TenHoor, Associate Professor and Undergraduate History-Theory Coordinator, Pratt Institute School of Architecture
“At this time when the country is notably divided and exploring many paths forward, AIA New York / Center for Architecture remains dedicated to our core values, which include promoting architecture and cities that are equitable, diverse, resilient and committed to improving quality of life in our communities. We are respectful and supportive of the statements made by AIA National and open to working with a range of constituents to support infrastructure initiatives and the betterment of the built environment.” – Benjamin Prosky, New York AIA / Center for Architecture
"OK, fine, let’s imagine that a certain degree of pragmatism might guide some decisions right now - that Trump might surprise us and take a more functional problem-solving approach to investing in public infrastructure. The problem for us is that problem-solving or business smartness without ethics, and without respect for human dignity, and without a sensibility towards social justice... is simply just business. The AIA should not consider this business-as-usual and remain politically neutral. To maintain impartiality in face of today’s social and economic injustices is to be complicit with those institutions that perpetuate what is ethically and morally wrong. Where was the AIA during Trump’s campaign’s denigration of immigrants, the overt drive for more privatization at the expense of our collective assets, and the proposal of building a border wall? This should have been the best time for our profession to take a position about what is ethically and morally wrong: That xenophobia is wrong, that inequality is wrong, that building border walls is wrong. OK, fine, as a profession we have never been that interested in considering what is ethically and morally wrong. Ask Albert Speer. The commission is all we want. So we say: Let’s engage this commission because it is about public infrastructure, and if we don’t, someone will (this has always been our excuse to ignore ethics). But have we asked how Trump will pay for his public extravagance? Are tax cuts for the very wealthy and the erosion of our social safety net the building blocks for his investment in public infrastructure? Are we that naïve? Here is where the AIA needs to take an even more political position: we need to say it aloud: Taxes are our civic duty, because they are the basis for realizing our collective commitments and shared interests. We also need to demand a more enlightened government to invest this revenue smartly and efficiently – our bureaucracies need to be re-designed. The future of our cities depends on this double project of progressive taxation and public imagination. So, if the AIA will extend its ‘neutral’ hand to Trump –please - it should also demand that corporate power and the plutocrats of this country pay more taxes, much more than many of us, as they have profited exorbitantly. The most socially-inspired urbanizations in the world, such as Barcelona, Spain, in the 80’s and 90’s or Medellin, Colombia, in the 2000’s, emerged from agendas committed to progressive taxation, and smart, efficient public management to cultivate inclusive public infrastructure. Those were instances when visionary politicians brought ethics and architecture together, giving shape to an urbanism of social justice." - Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman / Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman
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Architect Fritz Read resigns from AIA over its pledge to work with President-Elect Trump

A Maryland-based architect took the ultimate step to show his disagreement with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) over its November 9 statement (see that statement here) about working with President-elect Donald Trump: He has resigned from the organization. Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and principal of Read & Company Architects in Baltimore, Maryland, submitted his resignation last Thursday, after reading a statement from AIA Executive Vice President and CEO Robert Ivy about the outcome of the national election. “The alacrity with which Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in securing our piece of the action,” Read wrote to leaders of the Baltimore AIA chapter. “The AIA does not represent my personal or professional interests. Please consider this my resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am appalled.” Read sent a subsequent message to Ivy, calling for him to resign as well, “to allow the AIA to be represented instead by someone who might more fully and thoughtfully engage the incoming administration on the basis of the AIA's clearly stated shared values.” Although Read is one of many architects around the nation who expressed concern that the AIA would presume to speak for them that way Ivy did in his statement. Many have been quoted by The Architect’s Newspaper or expressed their feelings on social media platforms. (See Robert Ivy's second apology to AIA architects here.) Read is one of the first to resign. His resignation letter and other comments raise important questions about what stance a professional organization such as the AIA, with 89,000 members, should take following a divisive national election. Read’s messages to the AIA also provide insight into how one architect is grappling with the aftermath of the general election and the way he believes he was represented by a professional organization to which he belonged. Read is an award-winning architect who has headed his own office since 1994. He is a LEED accredited professional who holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame and is registered in five states. According to his website, his firm provides “a comprehensive range of services in architecture, planning, and interior design for institutional, municipal, commercial and individual clients in Maryland, south-central Pennsylvania, and Delaware.” Here is the November 9 statement from Robert Ivy that triggered Read’s resignation and set off a firestorm of comments from architects around the country. It was issued the day after the general election.
The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. During the campaign, President-elect Trump called for committing at least $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure continue to be a major priority. We also congratulate members of the new 115th Congress on their election. We urge both the incoming Trump Administration and the new Congress to work toward enhancing the design and construction sector’s role as a major catalyst for job creation throughout the American economy. This has been a hard-fought, contentious election process. It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.
Here is the back and forth with Read, Baltimore AIA chapter Executive Director Kathleen Lane, and Ivy, following Read’s initial letter. All of this correspondence was copied and sent in a chain to dozens of AIA members. Read sent his resignation letter on November 10 to Lane and Baltimore AIA chapter president Anthony Consoli. Lane responded on November 10 at 6:52 pm, via iPhone. Dear Fritz, I and an [sic] absolute agreement with you, and I can certainly take some time to explain the AIA national government relations need to remain neutral no matter what. At this moment though, I am on the way back from an AIA Baltimore committee on architecture for education workshop cochaired by Scott Walters, which is convening or professional community in advocating for the best possible learning environments and outcomes for students in Maryland schools, in response to a Governors commission on reducing school costs. This is a vital topic, among others, which may be much more aligned to your values, and which we at the local and state chapter level of AIA are striving to make a difference, and would very much benefit from your involvement. We would certainly be very sorry to lose you. Will send a more thoughtful and thorough response. Kind regards Kathleen Sent from my iPhone Read wrote to Lane on November 10 at 7:28 pm. Kathleen, Appreciate the response. Am so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000 members of open-ended and unqualified support for a climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational neutrality, and what required that it be made now, without membership input. As I told Anthony in his immediate and generous phone call, I am always more than happy to engage in conversation, but my decision is firm: I cannot continue my association with an organization that would permit its leaders to issue such a thoughtless and ill-considered statement on our behalf. Ours is not an honorable history of willingness to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours? I have enormous respect for Scott's continued willingness to engage in all that he does with the AIA on behalf of the community, and I do understand that there may be more opportunity to do good there than by following the path I've chosen, so I wish you well from the bottom of my heart, but I really cannot stomach remaining a member of the AIA. Fritz Read Lane sent a longer response to Read on November 11 at 11:17 am. Dear Fritz, For all friends and colleagues copied here who may not have received the AIA statement to which Fritz refers, please see it attached below. Fritz, I understand wholeheartedly and share the feelings you express so eloquently. The strength of AIA is as a member-led organization. I urge you to send your message directly to Robert Ivy, as well as our current President, Russ Davidson, and Presidents-Elect, Tom Vonier and Carl Elefante—and I will also share your message with them. The AIA as a national, state, and local organization does NOT maintain neutrality, and rather takes very clear positions on issues that are vital to our members’ values and to the profession, such as environmental sustainability, global climate change, resiliency, community development and the public realm, equity and diversity issues, education, and more. To do so credibly and effectively, the organization must work with each administration duly elected according our democratic principles. That message, I believe, was the intent of the AIA press release below, and certainly not a statement of support of the elected themselves, or of those platforms that are in direct contradiction to the values, ethics, and positions of AIA and its members. My own strong feeling is that as a result of this election it is even more imperative to work together diligently as a profession with our communities at the local level, and this is what we strive to do here at AIABaltimore with numerous programs such as the Committee on Architecture for Education program cited below, the work of our Committee on the Environment/Resiliency, Equity/Diversity Committee, as well current initiatives with Neighborhood Design Center on community design efforts, Adopt-a-School programs in underserved communities, and so much more.  Your involvement and direct engagement would greatly strengthen these efforts, and losing you as a member and ally of AIA will certainly diminish these. We hope you might reconsider. All best, Kathleen Lane Read responded to Lane on November 11, reaffirming his decision. Dear Kathleen, So very sorry that you find yourself in the position you're in; I know it must be difficult. You do persuasively raise the age-old argument that continued work from within may accomplish more than my simple angry rejection of the organization, and I will not fault anyone who makes that choice thoughtfully. But I cannot make that choice myself, cannot remain associated with the AIA, and must reaffirm my resignation from the AIA effective immediately. Thanks for all that you do so ably. Fritz Read On Nov 11, 2016, at 2:10 PM, Lane wrote: Fritz, I don’t shirk responsibility whatsoever for supporting the views of the AIABaltimore membership, whatever the difficulty of the position.  In addition to forwarding the messages to Robert Ivy, I have also spoken to the AIA media staff, and they deeply regret the statement, which they feel was poorly written and ill-timed, and certainly not intended at all as it is being received. I am terribly sorry this results in the loss of you as an AIA member.  Please know we’ll continue to be here working on behalf of the profession, and our Baltimore community, and will welcome you back at any time. With respectful best wishes, Kathleen Fritz Read's response: Kathleen, Thank you once again for working as hard as you do on behalf of the profession. I hope you will know and trust that I have had great respect for your work since you came to the Baltimore chapter, that I have seen you as a sign that we might be able to get it right, and that my departure is in no way to be taken as a repudiation or criticism of anything you have done. You deserve some real gratitude for how much you try to do. Best regards always, Fritz Read Ivy sent a message to Read on November 11 at 6:38 pm., asking him to "stay engaged with the AIA." Dear Fritz, Thank you for your sincere and heartfelt email to Kathleen.  This has been a challenging and at times dispiriting campaign process for all of us. As architects, we are trained to work collaboratively to find common ground on difficult design issues with the goal of creating a better environment for everyone. The divisiveness of this campaign has truly tested all of us. At the same time, despite whatever personal views we might hold, we need to respect the outcome of the election, no matter how we feel about it. For more than a century, the AIA has worked with policymakers from both parties and all viewpoints to advance policies that benefit the practice of architecture and the built environment. That means working with Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between. The individual who serves as President of the United States will be making decisions on issues that impact architects and our work, and they will do so whether we engage in the process or stay silent. Ensuring that policymakers hear our voices is a top priority of the AIA at all levels of government, from the White House to city councils. If we do not work to engage with those in power, then we are leaving the fate of our profession in the hands of others. That said, we will remain true to our principles and values. The AIA strongly supports elevating and respecting the dignity and worth of all people, for example, and we are committed to addressing the impacts of climate change through policies that promote sustainable and resilient design. We stand ready to work with any policymaker who is willing to work with us, but we also are not afraid of calling out policymakers who do not share our values or work to oppose our interests. To that end, I encourage you to stay engaged in the AIA, and share with us your views on the major issues. In the coming days we are issuing our biennial Call for Issues, where we ask all AIA members what issues they want us to take to Congress and the White House. Only by listening to you and the other 90,000 members of the AIA can we develop a clear, strong message on what architects believe and what we are willing to fight for. I hope you will continue to help us lift our voice and make sure we are heard. Sincerely, Robert Ivy, FAIA Read responded to Ivy on November 11. Dear Mr. Ivy, You patronize me with your overly long explanation of the need to work with who we are given rather than who we might wish to have, something that any of us certainly knows from hard experience in practice. What any of us also knows is that it is precisely when we pledge our willingness to work together that we make clear our values and the conditions of our collaboration, not later. You seem either to be unaware of the importance of that, or to think that it can simply go unsaid. This could be true under certain very limited circumstances of trust, conditions that no thinking person could believe obtain in the present case, where we are facing the need to work with someone so openly hostile to many of our cherished professional and moral values. I'm amazed that you put as much ink to paper as you did in justification of a clear misjudgment on your part, and did it without any evidence of apology or embarrassment. You have done me the great favor of confirming that I have no place in an organization that you would presume to lead, and have let me rest easily with my decision. Since I am no longer a member of the AIA, you owe me nothing further in reply or attempted explanation, but I firmly believe that you owe a full and heartfelt apology to the remaining membership, and your immediate resignation, to allow the AIA to be represented instead by someone who might more fully and thoughtfully engage the incoming administration on the basis of the AIA's clearly stated shared values. Finally, since this is not a matter of private disagreement between the two of us, but a matter of very public importance for our profession, I have copied here all those who were part of the initial thread, with the wish that they will share it widely, to help inform the next steps that the AIA membership and leadership must take. Sincerely, Fritz Read