Posts tagged with "AIA":

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Watch: Robert Ivy issues second apology for tone-deaf post-election memo

Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Russ Davidson, AIA National president, issued a joint video apology Monday night after publishing a widely-criticized post-election statement of support for President-Elect Donald Trump. The video came after days of withering criticism directed at Ivy from scores AIA members, designers, and academics who saw Ivy’s memo as tone-deaf and complacent with the President-Elect’s hateful and racist campaign tactics as well as the incoming administration’s refusal to acknowledge of climate change. UPDATES: AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils. The recorded statement also follows an earlier, fumbled apology that was similarly-panned by the architectural community.  UPDATE: Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism. Criticism of Ivy’s support for Trump generated strong condemnation from across the profession, with architecturally-focused advocacy organizations like QSAPP, Architecture Lobby, and even from local AIA chapters and affiliated groups penning letters in opposition to Ivy’s statement. Prominent architecture firms and their principals like Katherine Darnstadt of Design, Micheal Sorkin of Terreform, and Maryam Eskandari of MIIM Designs also voiced strong outcry against the memo. In their apology video, Ivy and Davidson pledge to prioritize issues of  diversity, equity, inclusion, and climate change moving forward and to embark on a listening tour to hear members’ concerns more closely.
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Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism

UPDATE: Robert Ivy issues second apology for tone-deaf post-election memo Within hours of Donald J. Trump's election victory, Roberty Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued a memorandum in support of the President-Elect, pledging that AIA members "stand ready" to work hand-in-hand with the new administration in pursuit of new infrastructure projects. In response to growing outcry from AIA members over the inappropriate nature and myopic tone of the memo, the editorial board of The Architect's Newspaper (AN) issued a response late Friday evening in support of AIA members who felt that Ivy's memo did not represent their professional and personal concerns. AN's response can be found here. This evening, Ivy issued a response to AN's editorial, which can be found below: To: Editorial staff at The Architect’s Newspaper We recognize that the current, post-election environment is unique and has aroused strong and heartfelt feelings within all communities, including that of AIA membership. In this context, our recent statement in support of design and construction’s future role with the new Administration has been viewed with concern by a number of our colleagues. The AIA, a bi-partisan organization with strong values, reasserts our commitment to a fair and just society, and also respects the right of each member to his or her political beliefs, knowing that we are all united in our desire to contribute to the well-being and success of our nation and our world. 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. Respectfully, AIA Executive Vice President / CEO, Robert Ivy, FAIA and AIA President, Russ Davidson, FAIA
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UPDATED: AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils

UPDATE: Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is drawing ire from across the architectural profession after 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. Following Tuesday’s election results, Robert Ivy, AIA executive vice president and chief executive officer, released the following statement on behalf of the national AIA apparatus and membership:
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.
While the editorial board agrees that a spirit of togetherness is vital for moving the country (and the architectural profession) forward, The Architect’s Newspaper strongly disagrees with Ivy’s conciliatory note. Our editorial board is currently gathering feedback from practitioners, luminaries, and academics in the field, and initial responses indicate that many architects strongly disagree with the tone, character, and appropriateness of Ivy’s memorandum. It is plain to see that Donald Trump ran a racist, misogynist, and hateful campaign rooted in the forceful removal of undocumented immigrants, voter suppression targeting people of color, and xenophobic anti-Muslim profiling. The many hate crimes and acts of intimidation taking place across the country in the days since the election are a testament to the violence and racism his campaign has enlivened. Though Trump’s campaign was relatively anemic in terms of specific, actionable policy proposals and objectives, a clear plank of the Republican candidate’s message was, Ivy correctly states, related to infrastructure, namely, the erection of a border wall separating Mexico from the United States. Very little mention was ever made by Trump, his surrogates, or his supporters for the “investments in schools, hospitals, and other public infrastructure” that Ivy cites. That line of reasoning is purely hallucinogenic and wishful thinking on the part of the AIA CEO, and an irresponsible act of complicity from someone tasked to lead a diverse, inclusive, and progressive professional organization. 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. Furthermore, the memo’s imprecise language, uncritical stance, and congratulatory tone not only willfully misunderstand the stated policy objectives of the President-elect, but in committing such a lapse in judgement, submit the 89,000-member profession to the willful service of the destructive goals stated above. All the while, it condones the violence and oppression due to be inflicted upon the communities singled out by Trump’s rhetoric—which will likely impact the AIA’s own membership as well. The AIA’s struggles with diversity and inclusion are well-known: While the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) reported 105,847 registered architects in 2015, the Directory of African American Architects counts only 2,084 self-reported African-American members. That being said, recent years have indeed seen an increase in diversity within the profession. Demographic reports from 2015 show the highest proportion of women and people of color completing licensure requirements ever, with nearly 40 percent of newly-registered architects belonging to these groups. Simply put, Ivy’s memo does not speak for these professionals. We stand in opposition to the language in Ivy’s statement and in solidarity with the AIA membership that does not wish to be included in Ivy’s praise. Instead, we would like to guide our readers toward the AIA’s stated Diversity and Inclusion goals: Leadership in design and construction requires collaboration. Architects must encourage and celebrate the contributions of those who bring diverse experiences, views, and needs into the design process.
  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.
To join the conversation online, follow the #NotMyAIA hashtag created on Twitter by Latent Design or leave comments below. We will continue to update this story as we receive more input from architects, here are a few of the points of view shared so far:  
  • “I question why this was done. What is the point of a such a general statement? The message of this letter is so general as to appear merely congratulatory and is, therefore, inappropriate. It certainly doesn’t represent me, nor, I believe, any of the architects that I know.” - Zack McKown, Tsao & McKown Architects
 
  • “Now more than ever we need to be cosmopolitans. We have experienced the tribalization of our political sphere through the echo chamber of social media. Our need to belong has been satisfied by our incessant connectivity and the algorithms which continually re-direct us into a self-referential vortex. The parochializing effects of our network culture were hard to foresee precisely because we may have oriented ourselves to a false horizon. As we try to overcome this nauseating reality, our cities and our institutions are critical spaces for exchange and self-reflection. The possibility of encountering other people, other values, and other needs is a vital aspect of our cities and therefore architecture. In the face of this political (possibly existential) crisis, which seems to turn us towards the past, we should dig deep into our expertise of social innovation to formulate new typologies of collectivity, new spaces of exchange, new realities, to create neo-cosmopolitan architecture. One of architecture’s greatest powers is to render aesthetic experiences that precede language, rhetoric, or even rationality. By offering aesthetic modalities and organizational possibilities, architecture becomes a tool of self-actualization that nudges us towards new ways of relating to ourselves and each other. Let’s not forget that as we construct architecture, it in turn constructs us.” - Dominic Leong
 
  • “The statements by the leadership of the AIA can easily and embarrassingly be construed as consistent with Van Jones’ conception of a “whitelash”, where the historically white and male dominated profession, who’s diversity is quickly changing, is now attempting to re-align itself with its historic base, rather than embrace its growing diverse constituency.Trump has announced that as part of his first 100 days in office, one of his main priorities will be blocking all federal funding to sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities often represent the most diverse cities in the country. This suggests that the AIA endorses strategies geared towards promoting inequality by the incoming Trump administration because the $500 billion will not contribute to the much needed urban and social infrastructure improvements in the cities of Oakland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and 25 other sanctuary cities around the United States. Ivy’s comments also suggest that their members living in those cities are no longer equally represented by the AIA.In contrast to the statement made by the AIA leadership, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), tweeted that, because of the outcome of the recent election “designing for social reform will be more important than ever”. Three of the main initiatives of the AIA are “Diversity”, the creation of a “Center for Communities by Design,” where AIA members work with citizens and other stakeholders to envision and create more livable communities, and a “2030 Commitment” to reduce energy consumption in the built environment. If the AIA is sincere in their commitment to these initiatives, they need to align themselves to social reform and not pander to Trump’s proposed initiatives.Central to social reform, should be design that considers improvements in the poorest and fastest growing regions of our country—and one example is in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. It has been estimated that the 700 miles of borderwall currently dividing the U.S. from Mexico will require $49 billion dollars to maintain over the next 25 years. If we contextualize that amount in comparison to recent major architecture projects in the U.S., $49 billion dollars could finance 300 Seattle Public Libraries, 204 Disney Concert Halls, or 500 Miles of the High Line. Imagine if that kind of cultural investment were initiated in our borderlands and beyond, instead of proposing an additional $25 billion to construct more border walls when we live in a country where net immigration is zero.” - Ronald Rael, Associate Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley
  • “What a mealy-mouthed kiss-ass statement! Yes, we applaud any talk about investment in infrastructure—self-serving to our profession (no, our 'industry')—but what about social justice, including unequal distribution of economic gain, respect for our diverse population, inequitable housing policy, health care and... the list goes on.” -Belmont Freeman, Belmont Freeman Architects
  • "It is unconscionable that the AIA would send an 'upbeat' message of support to a man who has spouted misogynistic, racist, xenophobic and climate change-denying views to the American public. A larger question should be raised as to which public or better yet, which 'publics' the AIA serves.” - Ken Saylor, Saylor+Sirola
  • “Maybe staying silent would have been more appropriate out of respect for the diversity of views held by the members—many of which find him ‘disgusting’.” - Gordon Kippling, G TECTS
  • “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
  • “AIA's commitment to working with the president elect on making the US infrastructure great again is a positive notion, however we must be careful that in remaking of the physical infrastructure we don't destroy the social infrastructure of this nation.” - Florian Idenburg, SO-IL
  • “All the possible interpretations of the AIA's response to Trump's election should make us shudder. There is: 'We have no problem with a developer known to gleefully refuse to pay his architects.' Or there is: 'Who cares about economic ethics! Let's chase that (infrastructure-headed) ambulance wherever it goes!!' Or we also have; 'We don't care that you will wipe out our cities because of the sea-level rise that will result from rescinding all environmental legislation. No problem." Or we could just have, 'Go where the power is! We have no objection to the malignant nature of work, society, or economic equations that it brings.  Kiss up at all cost.' Sigh. Heaven help us. This is the organization that is advocating for the profession.” - Peggy Deamer, The Architecture Lobby
  • I cannot imagine supporting the AIA statement. It is not because I do not think the USA requires an urgent address to its aging infrastructure, but because there are some fundamental roadblocks to a collaboration, or dialogue, with an incoming administration, whose modus operandi over the past two years has been to issue contradictory statements, some of which happen to have been inflammatory beyond what I would describe as civil discourse. In addition to this, the AIA seems to have issued its statement on behalf of its 89,000 members, and none of the members I have spoken to have actually endorsed this. Since I am not a member, I can speak freely only from my position.
    1. The campaign of the incoming administration did not produce any consistency of message; one could not hold the candidate to any meaningful position either. I would simply ask, how does this administration define infrastructure? The perfunctory way in which Trump has described the state of bridges, tunnels, highways and airports seems straightforward enough, but it lacks any agenda beyond the obvious motivation to create jobs. It also lacks any nuance to identify the difference between issues of health and safety, the potentials of public space, an expanded definition of what constitutes infrastructure in a digitally interactive network, and dare I say an infrastructure that has cultural qualities that one may characterize as architectural, to enumerate just a few categories for discussion. To pose these questions requires the ears of an individual who has the patience to listen, to internalize and to have the generosity of productive dialogue. We have not had the opportunity to see that candidate emerge yet in the incoming president.
    1. How will architecture, urbanism, and planning be immediately impacted by the new administration’s current thinking? At first glance, the construction of a wall between the USA and Mexico, a cornerstone of this campaign, seems to qualify as an ambitious infrastructural proposition whose potential to be realized would be as incredible as the results of the election. But beyond that, the ethical implications of this wall should be at odds with what the AIA would want to endorse. By extension, Trump’s denial of the scientific data that grounds the discussion around global warming is another point that makes debates with the candidate effectively impossible. If an intelligent engagement in discussions regarding climate change, the well-being of cities and the general state of the environment is not part of an agenda of the incoming administration, then what is all this new infrastructure meant to support in the first place?
    1. The denial of facts, the falsification of data, and the shifting ground on which the campaign has evolved is at the heart of both points #1 and #2, both of which necessitate an appeal to education and forms of discursive debate in order to advance some idea of civil engagement. The incoming administration has not yet demonstrated an appetite or aptitude for such an engagement.
    1. In those instances where the candidate was articulate, he succeeded at exercising a form of free speech that effectively marginalized other groups in any form of inclusion; this is the only consistent position and noticeable pattern in his discourse. How is it that the AIA can close its eyes to the ethical foundation on which we think we can operate as a community? Are these women, people of Mexican origin, Muslims, individuals within LGBT community, among other groups, not part of what the AIA sees as its own community? The abandonment of basic ethics in the service of cultivating a new form of patronage seems to also deny the AIA from the agency and responsibility that it should hold dear. Where will the AIA draw its lines?
    In short, I remain as shocked and perplexed as any other person in the USA right now. I was impressed by the civility of both Clinton's concession speech and Obama's appeal for the transition of power, but I remain unconvinced by how a civil discourse can be constructed when all foundations of inclusion have been suspended in this interim period. Building future discussions on flawed foundations is as dangerous as the violence of words adopted by the incoming administration that has brought us to this state of affairs today. - Nader Tehrani, NADAAA/Dean, Cooper Union School of Architecture
  • “I am disappointed by the lack of questioning on the many potential dangers ahead. Naturally, an organization like AIA has to be ideologically apolitical, yet maneuver with a high degree of political craftsmanship. The very nature of a system that approves or denies the standards and rules of building architecture is something that must work with larger center of political powers, such as the White House. Therefore, their response is understandable—but I am disappointed by it. We have a system that allowed a president to be elected who lost by 200,000 popular votes. 200,000 humans is not a small number. The very definition of gerrymandering is the redrawing of political boundaries to diminish the strength of the popular vote. We just witnessed the electoral college perform such an act on a national scale (again), and we are about to say nothing (again). An architect is not simply a cog to a larger machine. We do not simply execute orders—we think about the order, and respond with an even more helpful answer. Our value is in our ability to produce thoughtful reflections, and exercise our unique training to introduce a form of intelligence unlike many other professions. If architects are not willing to participate in important questions like the status of democracy today, and simply behave as a cog that does not ask questions, the quality of our future is in a state of grave danger.” - Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular
  • “In the wake of AIA CEO Robert Ivy’s eagerness to work with Trump, I’ve already seen some AIA members angrily resign. As gross as Ivy’s statement is, I can say, as an Associate Member of the Baltimore chapter, that it doesn’t represent the organization that I know. In Baltimore, over the past few years, my colleagues at AIA have done things like fight for mass transit in poor neighborhoods, advocate for the historic preservation of space important to minorities, work to advance the representation of more women in the field, and sacrificed to raise funds for the education of students who would otherwise not get a chance to study architecture. Like many organizations of its size that engage with politics, much of the real work happens, and will continue to happen, locally, no matter what the leaders in Washington say.” - Fred Scharmen, Working Group on Adaptive Systems
  • “The 'quote' strikes me as frail, at best. No mention of energy, sustainability? No reference to our diverse AIA community? It sounds like a pandering quest for an upcoming RFP. Now is a moment when we may be able to motivate our president-elect to begin to recognize the responsibilities, the opportunities of fine architecture and design. Mr. Trump will only recognize what comes to his attention if it comes with simplicity, clarity and force.” - Andrew Tesoro, Tesoro Architects
  • "Today the AIA, claiming to speak for all its 89,000 members, released an unqualified statement committing all of us to work with the new administration. Although the next few years are sure to bring many challenges that will require architects to work with the public sector, the AIA showed a true lack of leadership by not taking a stance against the xenophobic, misogynist and generally divisive language and policies proposed by the new administration during the election process. The organization that is supposed to represent us had a chance to say that architecture will not be used as a tool to divide and oppress—it decided to pass. It is now up to each practitioner to take a stance and realize that our institutions will not necessarily keep us safe. We have to make it clear that the border wall and any other proposed infrastructure of oppression are to be rejected and not an opportunity to increase the bottom line." - Quilian Riano, DSGN AGNC
  • "'The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump...' I can't think of a better analogy for the relationship between what when wrong with this election and the problems facing our profession in the future.With 89,000 members the AIA represents a small, white and older demographic within the architecture population, it does not represent or reflect our emerging practice's values and neither does the, technically, elected Trump administration.We are being offered a huge opportunity to rethink where we want to invest our time and energy as architects. Do we want to continue to take a back seat in larger political movements, be focused on largely formal endeavors, or, are we interested in the dirty and complicated work of community building? And we are going to have to get real, we need to stop pretending we are more like our clients than like the trades people we coordinate. Our future isn't chic...nor is it a feel good, cutesy story. It's complicated and I'm really excited about that."- Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
  • “We need a different infrastructure letter from the AIA to Donald Trump. In light of the hate that he has unleashed against our communities, and his hostility to science and reason, we should demand nothing less than justice, freedom, equality, and safety for every person in this country, and immediate action on climate change, which we owe to our children and to the world.” - Mark Yoes, AIA LEED AP, WXY Architecture+Urban Design
  • "To pay fealty-- in the name of some hoped for economic privileges-- to a racist, bigoted misogynistic fear monger and a climate change denier is an abrogation of the AIA's historical legacy and the very purpose of its establishment in 1857, that is: '...to promote the artistic, scientific, and practical profession of its members; to facilitate their intercourse and good fellowship; to elevate the standing of the profession.'Architecture is by its very nature a deeply political, economic and social art.  Yet it must always exceed the politics of its day and it must continually reject the direct influence of the immediate political climate.Architecture is not the art of politics or the art of economics.  It is its own cultural discipline and it is NEVER a tool of the developer turned demagogue. No individual or influence group may dictate architecture's role in society and it is never the Architect's [sic] role to bend to any politician's ambitions, real or false.The discipline of architecture has withstood every form of political influence over time. Architecture's acts are by their very nature ahistorical, that is timeless.  After 11/9 Architecture and architects must continue to hew to more timeless demands: environmental and communal responsibility,  artistic and intellectual freedom and disciplinary precedent.Architecture must remain beyond power, beyond fear and beyond prejudice.  I strongly reject the AIA's unilaterally issued statement and I request that the body retract the statement immediately on behalf of it's members." - Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany
  • "At this historic moment it is abundantly clear that design for the public realm is a critical form of activism. Designers and citizens should work together towards public endeavors that help create a more just and equitable society and resist all efforts to disenfranchise. We must protest the fracturing of our society through any policies intended to do so and we must work to unite the country through civically-minded and inclusive design." - Nadine Maleh, Institute for Public Architecture
  • “We cannot let ourselves be defined by our commissions. If history tells us anything it is that. Shame on Robert Ivy and AIA National for not leading with values. His letter defining Infrastructure as 'schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure' exposes the reality that many still don't recognize. It is not about building, it's about what we build; That we all have a stake in the planning and design of the systems that we share. These are the lessons of the environmental justice movement that have shaped where we are today much more than our professional societies. It’s a pity that we aren't using this time to recognize who we serve. Once again we have missed the chance to change people's minds about the role of equal access to public space and public life. If AIANational is really concerned about impacting lives one of the first things they should have written a letter to the President-elect about is dismantling 'job creation' programs like the private prison industry and stating our priorities as social justice and the protection of our planet.” - Claire Weisz, WXY architecture+urban design
  • "Our public spaces are under attack. 

The political fora of generations past are no longer arenas to sponsor agonistic discourse, but are now instead sanitized spaces for the replication of self-insulating ideologies. Monitored, surveilled, patrolled, the public realm of the contemporary city has become a victim of spatial instruments of suppression. Exclusion zones at sites of protest dictate exactly where and what type of dissent is allowed.

The range is narrow.

Police reclaim a twenty-one-foot boundary around potentially aggressive bodies, legitimizing the use of lethal force within a circumscribed, ambiguous, and mobile territory. Anyone within range is recast as a potential suspect.  Violence is a presumed mode of interaction. The military has co-opted the city as a space for training, imagining and foreshadowing future insurrections. They arrive unannounced in civilian neighborhoods, which fit their models as hotbeds of likely resistance. They use ubiquitous public infrastructures to surreptitiously watch for otherwise imperceptible signs of dissent.

Public life is threatened.

We as spatial practitioners must identify, engage with, and act to reverse the forces that seek to limit public life and public space further.

The AIA, in its recent announcement, is enthusiastic about working with Trump on the country’s infrastructure—without questioning the origin of this spending.  It has failed to identify threats to public life as befitting the profession.

In his so-called ‘Contract with the American Voter,’ Donald Trump promises that during his first one hundred days in office he will 'cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure.'

The AIA says nothing of the infrastructure’s cost to the progress of global climate initiatives, or the human cost of those affected by climate change. It pledges the unflinching support of its 89,000 members with no mention of if or how that consensus was reached. We question how the AIA, as an organization, has presumed to represent and thereby flatten the political will of its individual members. With its statement, cloaked in the deceptive language of neutrality, the AIA has in fact forced a political mandate on its members: ignore climate change and support infrastructural spending.

Architects, even those within the organization, must retain the ability to act on their own judgment, in the public interest, and not be susceptible to such doctrinal mandates from the professional institutions to which they happen to belong.

The AIA announcement is at best short-sighted and at worst an opportunistic overreach of the AIA leadership, offering its members as ready and willing servants of the impending economic and industrial restructuring of the domestic landscape—whatever that may be.

When an institution assumes control of all its members’ opinions without inviting debate, when it commits itself to as-yet-unspecified agendas, and ignores the human and environmental costs of its pledged actions, that institution is not neutral – it is complicit with the forces which seek to limit public life. We must remind ourselves that totalitarian regimes look to architects to build their image of strength and legacy without questioning the costs, and that to collaborate is to normalize those systems." - Ersela Kripa + Stephen Mueller, AGENCY

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AIA Chicago announces 2016 Design Excellence Awards

The Chicago chapter of the AIA (AIA Chicago) has announced its annual Design Excellence Awards. The 2016 recipients were honored at Designnight 2016, the chapter’s largest annual event, with over 1,000 attendees from Chicago’s architecture and architecture-related fields. The Design Excellence Awards are divided into four categories: Distinguished Building, Divine Detail, Regional & Urban Design, and Interior Architecture. Each category has its own jury, who choose from hundreds of entries. Each category is divided into three levels of awards: Honor Award, Citation of Merit, and Special Recognition. This year a Lifetime Achievement award was also presented to Ron Krueck, FAIA and co-founder of Chicago-based firm Krueck + Sexton Architects. This year’s Honor Award recipients included firms large and small. The top award for Regional & Urban Design went to UrbanLab for its Changde City Master Plan, in Changde, China. SOM and Adrian Smith + Gorden Gill Architecture took Citations of Merit for projects in Sydney, Australia, and Pullman, Chicago. Multiple Honor Awards were given for the Divine Detail Award, with Studio Gang taking home two awards in the category for its Writers Theater in Glencoe, Illinois and City Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side. Krueck + Sexton Architects, John Ronan Architects, and Optima DCHGlobal, Inc. were also presented with Honor Awards in the category. Studio Gang’s Writers Theater was also an Honor Award winner in the Interior Architecture category, joined by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects and von Weise Associates. The most coveted awards of the night, the Distinguished Building Awards, was given for four projects. Optima Sonoran Village by David Hovey & Associates Architect, Inc., in Scottsdale, Arizona, was honored, notably for its facade, which integrates a vertical landscape system. JAHN took home an Honor Award for its Doha Convention Center, located in Doha, Qatar. Perkins+Will’s Case Western Reserve University/Tinkham Veale University Center, and Sasaki and  Ross Barney Architects’s Chicago Riverwalk were also honored.
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Justice Department to end use of private prisons. Will the AIA ask architects to stop designing them?

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced today that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will end its use of private prisons, citing concerns over the facilities' safety and efficacy. The decision applies to federal prisons only and comes after the department released an 86-page report that analyzed the operations of 14 contract prisons in seven categories for security and safety. The report found that, except for fewer (reported) incidents of sexual misconduct and positive drug tests, privately operated prisons have more security and safety lapses than those run but the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The report found that private prisons, moreover, had higher rates of inmate-to-inmate and inmate-to-guard assaults than at BOP facilities. “[Privately-run prisons] simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote in a DOJ memo released by the Washington Post. In an interview with the paper she added that “[the] fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services, and now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that." The move comes as the federal prison population has declined from an all-time high of almost 220,000 in 2013 to 195,000 today, mostly due to changes in drug sentencing guidelines, sentencing for low-level drug convictions, and clemency initiatives. The prisons will not shut down all at once. Rather, the DOJ will review the contracts of 13 facilities operated by three private organizations as they come up for renewal over the next five years. The DOJ's decision will impact a small number of prisoners, but its implications are huge. As of December 2015, private prisons housed around 22,660 federal inmates, 12 percent of the BOP's inmate population. By May 1, 2017, the private prison population should be less than 14,200. The Daily News' Shaun King, who advocates for ending mass incarceration, offered measured praise for the decision on his Facebook page:   Although problems at private prisons are well-documented, they are often drivers of economic development, and jobs-starved communities are loathe to see the prisons shut down. Already the BOP announced that it will reduce a new 10,800-bed contract by 7,200 beds. The BOP spent $639 million on private prisons in the 2014 fiscal year. The DOJ's decision could impact the architecture profession. In 2011, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility repeatedly petitioned the AIA to take a stance on the design of execution rooms and "spaces intended for torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" in the U.S. and abroad. Although the organization's code of conduct states that "members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors," this year, the AIA rejected a petition to discipline members who design solitary confinement units and death chambers. BOP prisons can contain solitary confinement facilities, so the DOJ's decision may spur the AIA to take a more decisive stance on the ethics of prison design.
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AIA Dallas selects four winners for 2016 Unbuilt Design Awards

Of 40 submissions from 14 Dallas firms, the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected four designs to receive its 2016 AIA Dallas Unbuilt Design Awards. This year’s recipients were selected by a jury composed of world-renowned architects, including Jacob Brillhart, founder of Brillhart Architecture; Mary-Ann Ray, a principal of Studio Works Architects and cofounder and co-director of the experimental laboratory for urban and rural research and design at BASE Beijing; and Adam Marcus, AIA, director for Variable Projects and partner in Futures North.

Dallas Arboretum Perkins + Will

The Garden Education Center at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens acts as a gateway for visitors—an experience that is equal parts display, science, and education outreach. Inspired by the concept of “cycles” the arboretum is a figure-eight loop form. The design burrows into the ground and then curves up into the air with the loop offering 360 degree views of the garden. The jurors praised the way the project creates an experiential procession into the park.

Jiefangbei Tower CallisonRTKL

Set within densely populated Chongqing, China, the project creates a city within a city, rendering the tower as a contributing part of the urban fabric both in plan and volume. Articulation of form and spatial experience speaks to the characteristic mist that envelops Chongqing down to the flow of the pedestrian life at street level. Spaces cascade throughout the project to form volumetric interaction and connect to the city at every level. The jurors commended the project’s ability to weave public space into a building experience that is generally only reserved for a few.

Hillen Residence NIMMO

The Hillen Residence connects the homeowners to their surroundings by weaving into the landscape and then graciously opening toward expansive views of native Texan flora. A site-specific project, the form, both in plan and volume, is driven by natural connections stitched together with facets of the family’s daily life. The jurors appreciated the project’s ability to manifest a complex plan and idea into a simple gesture that allows the homeowner to experience the architecture and local environment from every vantage point.

Oak Cliff Brewing Company Munn Harris Architects

With a reclaimed industrial warehouse and minimal budget—a result of high equipment cost—the proposal for Oak Cliff Brewing Company aims to create a welcoming place for the public through minimal design costs. Using a large pecan tree on-site as inspiration, reclaimed wood elements act as a unifying palette and define the character of both indoor and outdoor spaces. The jurors were impressed by the modest proposal and its ability to do a lot with a little.

Fed Scraper – Juror Citation HKS, Inc.

The FED Scraper proposes a physical constraint to the U.S. Government’s ever-expanding spatial capacity. The proposal sinks the federal government building into a sub-grade metropolis where the terrain creates a physical limitation on growth. In turn, the ground place is activated for public programming, thus giving back large swaths of D.C. to the people. The jurors praised the project’s utopian ambition and visionary scale, as well as the use of humor and irony as a means of pushing the outcome outside of the comfort zone.

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Walter Hunt, driving force in Gensler and AIA NY, passes away

Our architectural community became a little smaller this week. Sadly one of our members, Walter Alexander Hunt, Jr. FAIA died on May 27th 2016. He had a long and prolific career and intersected with many of us in different ways and at different points in our lives. To Gensler he was the consummate team player who joined the firm in its early days in San Francisco and became instrumental in transforming it from a small interiors practice into one of the leading and largest architectural firms in the world. During the course of his 38-year career, he hopscotched around the country setting up offices first in Denver in 1978 and then in New York in 1985 with Margot Grant. By the time he retired in 2012, he was the Managing Director of the Northeast Region and Vice-Chair of the firm. By all accounts he was incredibly successful. He was exceptionally skilled at giving life to large complicated projects. In 2009, for instance, he led the team of 9 architectural firms that completed the 16 million square foot MGM Mirage City Center in Las Vegas, still the largest private development in the US and the largest LEED development in the world. His most recent project was probably the Msheireb Downtown Doha, a 76.6 acre development in an historic neighborhood that incorporated traditional design features with smart grid technology and is on track to be the largest LEED certified community when completed. Any architectural office needs a dedicated staff of talented and motivated people to do the work and make it cohesive. Walter played a strong role in forging the entrepreneurial culture that became Gensler’s hallmark. After a couple of years at Gensler he decided to pursue a passion for industrial design and quit his job. He stayed in touch, decided the small firm he was at wasn’t for him, and was invited back. He felt that the experience caused him to grow and develop as an architect and made him so much more committed and more valuable to Gensler. Business journals have written a lot about the ‘boomerang’ as a way of motivating employees; Gensler institutionalized and celebrated the practice. Others often cite Gensler as a model and quote Walter. To the AIA he was a former Chapter President, Center for Architecture Foundation President, and member of the NY State AIA Board. Without Walter, there would probably be no Center for Architecture. When the local chapter occupied a couple of donated desks in a borrowed office on the 6th floor the Interior Design Building in the late 90’s, Walter helped conceive of a storefront to promote design and architecture in New York and served as co-chair of the Capital Campaign. They raised $6 million ensuring that the Center would become a leading and permanent cultural institution in New York. Inspired by the vibrancy in New York, more than 20 architecture centers sprouted around the country. Walter was highly committed to the next generation and educating both the practitioners and the public about design. He mentored young (and middle-aged) architects and funded more than a few organizations he felt would make a difference such as the ONE@@Time Foundation which provides pro bono design services to non profits. He also established multiple scholarships for architecture students both through the AIA and Yale, his alma mater. Yale tapped him for the Alumni Committee and the Dean’s Council. He even served on the Advisory Board of cultureNOW and helped shape its programming, its internships, and its mission to make the built environment accessible. Everyone who had the opportunity to collaborate with him would talk about his commitment, generosity, support, leadership, mentoring, and enthusiasm. Not only did he give advice, but he participated in the programs. He received many awards including the AIANY Chapter’s President’s Award and the Harry B. Rutkins Award, as well as the AIA NY State’s James William Kideney Gold Medal. Gensler established its ‘One Firm Firm’ Award in his honor. This is quite a testament to an extraordinary career. Our hearts go out to his wife Judy, his companion through life, and his family who will miss him more than we will.
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Our AIA Convention 2016 reader

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The American Institute of Architects has chosen ten firms for the 2016 Housing Awards

Eligible projects needed to have been completed after January 1, 2011. They could be renovations or new buildings of any size, budget, or style, including mixed-use projects. Awards are be divided into four categories: One/Two Family Custom Housing; One/Two Family Production Housing (none selected this year); Multifamily Housing and Special Housing. This years jury included Jamie Blosser, AIA (Chair), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects; Ariella Cohen, Editor-in-Chief of Next City; Kevin Harris, FAIA of Kevin Harris Architect, LLC; David Lee, FAIA of Stull and Lee, Inc. and Suman Sorg, FAIA of Sorg & Associates, P.C.

One/Two Family Custom Housing

This award recognizes work for custom and remodelled homes. Hog Pen Creek Retreat; Austin, Texas - Lake|Flato Architects "Towering heritage oak trees, a steeply sloping site and aggressive setbacks from the water created challenging site constraints thoughtfully answered by the home's L-shaped footprint and orientation. A long exterior boardwalk connects a series of structures that stair step down the hillside, crossing a 75-foot lap pool and terminating at a screened pavilion by the water’s edge." Jury Comments: "Nicely detailed, fully cohesive design strategy with water and nature being primary influences. This feels very place based and perfect for its setting in Texas. Artful composition of masses. Delicate placement amidst mature landscape and Creek waterfront views." Independence Pass Residence; Aspen, CO - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson "The house stretches between two knolls, forming a threshold to the views. A series of textured Vals quartzite walls extend into the landscape on either side, giving weight to the lower level. The upper volume is a glass and wood pavilion with a roof that floats on slender stainless steel columns. Its position on the site, linear shape and the use of glass, steel and quartzite gives great strength to this mountain home." Jury Comments: "Beautiful use of stone and lines to frame views of conservation land. A stunning house. A simply spectacular house totally attuned to its Aspen setting. The views are spectacular at every angle." Island Residence; Honolulu - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson "Situated on the Ocean’s coastline at a corner of an ancient fishpond, this private residence reflects the culture of the Hawaiian Islands by embracing its lush surroundings. The house has diverse outdoor spaces and a highly transparent envelope with intimate views of the landscape, the coastal reef and the surf. Jury Comments: "Excellent place based design marrying modernism with hand crafted details. An exciting take on a vernacular, providing a real warmth and openness. Lovely cultural references to both Hawaii and Japan." Newberg Residence; Newberg, OR - Cutler Anderson Architects "This single-family 1,440 square foot residence and 550 sf guest house was designed so the owners can connect with the wild creatures that come to water regularly. The design attempts to make the pond and residence a single entity via entry through the forest, over a bridge from the north end of the pond." Jury Comments: "Elegant design demonstrates joy of living with nature - not requiring a grand vista or dramatic landscape. Thoughtful siting as bridge over pond, elegantly detailed. Simple, clean proportions, warm wood interiors." Oak Ridge House; Jackson, MS - Duvall Decker Architects, P.A. "This house, located in Jackson, Mississippi, is designed as a scaffold for the experience of moving between these conditions, to inhabit and interpret each of them over time. It is shaped to draw the outdoors in, lure the family out, and provide an environmentally rich palette of spaces to accommodate the process of habitation." Jury Comments: "Understated, well designed home. Multiple functions of builtins nice feature, as is choice of materials - slate and pecan. A really, really nice L shaped residence."

Multifamily Living

This award looks at the integration of the building(s) into their site, using both open and recreational space, transportation options and features that contribute to liveable communities. Both high- and low-density projects were considered. 1180 Fourth Street; San Francisco - Mithun | Solomon (initiated as WRT/Solomon E.T.C.)* "The project occupies a full city block with a multi-level courtyard accessing tenant services, daycare, community gardens and common spaces. A generous community room serves the larger neighborhood as well as the project. Amenities emphasize fitness, nutrition, education and community life. It houses 150 low income and formerly homeless households, plus 10,000 square feet of restaurants and retail." *Associate Design Architect: Kennerly Architecture & Planning Jury Comments: "This is a really cool project! It does some really neat things architecturally and is rich in many ways. San Francisco sorely needs affordable housing and this is a perfect location re: transit and accessibility. To live here you have to won the housing lottery!" Cloverdale749; Los Angeles - Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects "Cloverdale749’s integration with its surroundings is upheld by carefully considered deck, window, and walkway placements wherein LOHA established a veil of transformable layers to promote a hybridized relationship between private and public spheres. Incorporating passively sustainable elements in the exterior cladding helps reduce the solar heat load on the building and its energy expenditures for cooling." Jury Comments: "Nice understated design. Rigorously developed and is an upgrade in its context. Very well thought out, detailed, and elegant resolution from a simple, rather banal ships container reference."

Specialized Housing

The Special Housing award acknowledges design that meets the unique needs of other specialized housing types, including housign for the disabled, residential rehabilitation programs, domestic violence shelters, and among others. Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts; Amherst, MA - William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. "The Commonwealth Honors College Community brings together all classes of students in a mix of unit types that provides 1,500 beds in seven new buildings. The buildings are organized around intimately scaled courtyards that step down the hillside, creating the sense of an academic village for the University of Massachusetts Honors Community." Jury Comments: "Rich mixture of campus buildings resembling an Italian hill town. So impressed that at every scale it was well thought out and integrated. They spent so much time on careful spaces for social engagement." Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing, VA Campus; Los Angeles - LEO A DALY "As part of the Nation’s vanguard effort to house its homeless veterans, the design team of Leo A Daly took a historic structure on the VA’s West Los Angeles medical campus, a building that had been vacant for decades, and repurposed it, turning Building 209—a 1940’s-era clinic building—into an inviting new home for veterans. In the process, the building’s exterior, designated a historic landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, was fully restored, and the former mental hospital transformed into modern therapeutic housing for 65 formerly homeless veterans." Jury Comments: "Spaces, landscaping, and rooms afford a believable sense of importance of and gratitude towards the residents. Respectful of the original building, and respectful of the occupants on the inside. This carefully considered the specific building users and their particular therapeutic needs." Whitetail Woods Regional Park Camper Cabins; Farmington, MN - HGA "Nestled into the hillside of a new regional park, three camper cabins riff on the idea of a tree house entered from a bridge at the crest of a hill. Built on concrete piers to minimize environmental impact, the 227-square-foot cabins with an 80-square-foot deck feature red cedar glulam chassis, cedar and pine framing, and red cedar cladding. Two full-size bunks, dining and sitting areas accommodate four individuals, with a sleeper sofa and folding seating accommodating up to two more. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors frame views of the forest." Jury Comments: "Beautiful simplicity. Colors, materials, and textures reinforce the undisturbed natural habitat. The light footprint is lovely and the low impact on the environment is wonderful."
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Much to Kermit Baker’s chagrin, the January Architecture Billings Index (ABI) thaws prematurely

It's time to panic. Well, not panic, maybe, but frown a little bit: after a generally positive showing in 2015, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is back in negative territory. The January ABI score was 49.6, down from 51.3 in December 2015. As AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker will have you know, any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings. “The fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy, with falling oil prices, international economic concerns, and with steep declines in stock market valuations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects.” (If these numbers seem to contradict the previous month's readings, that's because each January, the AIA research department updates seasonal factors used to calculate ABI, which results in a revision of recent ABI values. January's new projects inquiry index was down 5.2 points from the previous month, for a score of 55.3. Design contracts were also down, by 0.1, but remained in positive territory for a January score of 50.9. Sector billings were mixed. Multi-family residential billings were down one point, at 51.9, and institutional billings were at 49.9, down 2.3 points over the previous month. Commercial/industrial billings (50.5) were up by 3.2 points, while mixed practice (49.0) rose 2.5 points. The Northeast (50.4) and Midwest (48.9) saw increases of 3.7 and 2.8 points, respectively, while the South (50.3) and West (50.8) saw decreased of 3.0 and 2.9 points. Don't forget: The ABI, the leading economic indicator of construction activity, reflects a nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average.
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The Architecture Billings Index finishes strong in 2015

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) closed 2015 in positive territory. Demand for design services increased in eight out of 12 months last year. “As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement.  “Overall, however, ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year.” The ABI is the leading indicator of construction activities that reflects the approximately nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The December ABI score was 50.9, up from 49.3 in November. As Kermit Baker will have you know, any score above 50 means an increase in billings. The December new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up 1.6 points from November, while the design contracts index was down 2.5 points, to 51.0, over the same period. The national, new projects inquiry, and design contracts indices are calculated monthly. Except for the Northeast with 46.7 (a 0.5 increase over November), the regional numbers were down for December. The West was at 53.7; the South, 53.3; and the Midwest 46.1. (That's a decline from 54.5, 55.4, and 47.8, respectively.) The sector index breakdown fared similarly. At 46.5, mixed practice was down 1.1 points from November. Multi-family residential fell 0.9 points to 52.9, whilecommercial/industrial billings fell to 47.3, from 51.0 in November. Institutional billings saw a gain of 0.2, to 52.2, for December. The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three month moving average.
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AIA Chicago outlines Pullman’s future as a National Monument

As part of the ongoing preservation efforts surrounding the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Pullman a print and online book has been released reporting the results of a workshop conducted by AIA Chicago and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in April 2015. Positioning Pullman gives a history as well as a possible way forward for the once flourishing company neighborhood, which has recently been designated a national monument by President Barack Obama. The Pullman neighborhood, once an independent town, was founded by George Pullman in the 1880s to house the workers and their families, of his luxury sleeping train car company. The town, a socially and technically progressive experiment, was designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett. The community would become a symbol of the industrial revolution and its efficiencies and advancements, as well as its labor tribulations. Pullman would be the site of multiple national policy changing strikes as well as a center for the unionizing movement of the early 20th Century.  With the decline of rail travel the company would fold by the late 1960s, with only the name living on as spin off companies into the 198’s. The town's population and its buildings would quickly decline with the company, but a group of community organizers would save the city from total demolition, eventually leading to its landmark, and now national monument, status. The April ideas workshop, and subsequent publication, was charged with outlined a plan to preserve the historic neighborhood, as well as set out guidelines for improving the entire historic site. The workshop was divided into four teams—Park Experience, Historic Preservation, Access and Connections, and Community Development. The teams, organized by AIA Chicago and the NPCA, included architects, landscape architects, city planners, economist and engineers. Community involvement in the front and back ends of the workshop informed and tested ideas on the very people that would be most affected by the neighborhoods development. That development includes the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and sites, new construction, proposed transportation infrastructure and intensive preservation efforts throughout the area. In the next few years the improvements to accessibility, infrastructure, and public amenities, aim to accommodate an expected 300,000 visitors a year. The workshop and publication were supported by The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, and Alphawood Foundation.