Posts tagged with "Architecture Lobby":

Why are architecture’s major professional organizations silent on the immigrant detention debate?

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

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

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

Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on AIA and all architects to reject projects relating to immigrant detention

As recent news shed light on the thousands of families who have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last month, and as political pressure on the Trump administration to end the practice continues to mount, The Architecture Lobby (T-A-L) and Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a statement that rejects the role of architects in designing such detention facilities. In their statement, both groups unanimously call for the federal government to end the militarization of the border and for architects to refuse to take on work that would further human suffering. “The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on architects, designers, planners and allied professionals to refuse to participate in the design of any immigration enforcement infrastructure, including but not limited to walls, checkpoints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, detention facilities, processing centers, or juvenile holding centers. We encourage owners, partners and employees who find themselves in practices that engage in this work to organize, and deny their labor to these projects. “For too long, architects have been complicit in human caging by designing and building these structures. Architects designed the facilities where children call out for their parents at night. Architects also designed the extensive network of facilities where their parents shiver in frigid holding cells. History has taught us that what is strictly legal is not always what is just. It is time for this to end. We call on professionals to join us in this pledge: We will not design cages for people.” T-A-L and ADPSR directly called upon the national AIA to “to prove its commitment to making more diverse, equitable, inclusive, resilient, and healthy places for all people.” As the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture kicks off today under the “Blueprint for Better Cities” banner, architects from all over the country will be gathering to discuss how to improve cities for their inhabitants. With Walmarts being repurposed as child detention facilities and as the Trump administration floats the idea of building more “tent cities” to house migrants, architects will likely continue to be contracted to design these facilities. In their statement, T-A-L and ADPSR have asked that the AIA directly comment on the practice, and publicly condemn, or excommunicate, its members who would willingly work to design them. For its part, the AIA has issued past statements against immigration and visa restrictions and their impact on the profession, but nothing about the actual practice of taking on such work. AN will update this story with any potential responses from the AIA. On the grassroots level, at the time of writing, a document has been making the rounds on Twitter that lists the architects and contractors who have been identified as working on such facilities, with contact information for many.

Kick off the AIA Convention with Architecture Lobby (and a toast!)

Here is the perfect way to kick off the start of the 2018 AIA convention. Who does not love spirits from Scotland? The Architecture Lobby is hosting an evening of fine whiskey and conversation about the state of our profession on Wednesday, June 20 at Haswell Green's starting at 6:00PM. In addition to tasty drinks, the evening will also be a chance to hear about the Lobby’s first national Think-in on Infrastructure on June 22 and 23 and to connect with members young and old. Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) will also be in attendance. You can RSVP here.

Architecture Lobby throws infrastructure-themed fundraiser on March 3

The Architecture Lobby, a national organization of architectural workers advocating for the value of architecture to the general public and for architectural labor within the discipline, is organizing a fundraiser titled “Infrastructure: An Architecture Labor Party”  in New York City on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at Prime Produce.

The dance party and auction will kick off a series of events planned for 2018 themed around Infrastructure and Architecture, and seeks to bring together a broad, diverse community of supporters.

The Architecture Lobby is growing rapidly, with chapters in more than 12 cities and in schools across the country. Recent projects include the #NotOurWall project, which confronts the Trump border wall and the larger infrastructure of immigration, culminating in a book that is being printed now; JustDesign.Us, a research and certification project seeking to highlight firms with good labor practices; and a labor law pamphlet providing resources for workers navigating labor practices. Overall, the Architecture Lobby’s efforts includes think-ins, publications, national campaigns, and projects examining how architecture is responding to changing social, technological and economic conditions.

On March 3, the infrastructure-themed shindig is an opportunity to meet and engage with the diverse, dues-paying membership of The Architecture Lobby’s New York City Chapter, which includes architectural students; young, mid-career, and senior professionals; firm owners; design journalists; and academics. According to the Lobby, its membership is "a community of architectural workers who are full of ideas for the future of the profession and are proactive in working to create change."

An online auction will offer art works, skillshares, and experiences by Lobby members, allies, and prominent supporters across the country representing the value of architectural labor and engaging with the nationally critical issue of infrastructure. The auction will open on February 24 on the event website, and will end during the party, on March 3rd, giving attendees a final chance to bid.

All donations and funds will support The Architecture Initiative, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to supporting the educational activities of The Architecture Lobby.

Visit www.architecture-lobby.org to learn more about the The Architecture Lobby and its efforts. 

Date and Time: Saturday, March 3, 2018, 8pm-1am Location: Prime Produce, 424 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019 Tickets: Pay your age + years of experience (must be 21 or older) - link here.

William Menking, AN's Editor-in-Chief, is a board member of The Architecture Lobby. 

The Architecture Lobby to hold public Think-In at Gensler Oakland

The Bay Area chapter of The Architecture Lobby is starting off the new year with a public Think-In on January 13 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm at Gensler Oakland. The Lobby is a new national organization devoted to the issues of architectural labor and working rights. This public event will focus on the current state of architectural labor, the profession, education, and the public perception of architects. The Lobby has invited distinguished panelists and a professional facilitator for the evening to critically debate and discuss work related topics that are important for architects at every career level. These guests include: Margaret Crawford, Maria Danielides, Eva Hagberg Fisher, Jason Geller, Doris Guerrero; Janette Kim, Nancy Levinson, Rosa Sheng, Nancy Alexander; as a facilitator. Think-In details 5pm-9pm, Friday, January 13 Gensler Oakland 2101 Webster St, #2000 Oakland, CA 94612 Think-In Topics Labor, Fees and Wages Contemporary Professionalization Architectural Institutions Media and the Public Perception of Architecture

Architecture Lobby opens Los Angeles branch

The Architecture Lobby, an advocacy group of “architectural workers” that includes designers, principals, educators, and writers, and has announced the launch of a new Los Angeles chapter. The group, according to a press release announcing the new chapter, “advocates for the value of architectural work within the general public was well as within the discipline.” The lobby was formed three years ago as a decentralized, nationwide organization. It currently runs chapters in New York City, Chicago, Tampa, Denver, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and the San Francisco Bay Area. To commemorate the launch, the new Los Angeles chapter is holding a kick-off party on Friday, October 21 at Jai & Jai Gallery. The launch party will include a screening (Re)Working Architecture, a film created by the organization from a performance put on by the group at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The party will also focus a discussion on the group’s book, Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice. The tome, first launched at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial, is currently being featured in the Lisbon Triennial. On Saturday, October 22, the Architecture Lobby will also host a so-called “Think-In” panel event at University of California, Los Angeles aimed at broadly discussing critical topics in the field and profession. The panel discussion will be facilitated by Nancy Alexander. Panelists will include:
  • Frances Anderson, KCRW (DnA, Design and Architecture)
  • Wil Carson, 64North, UCLA
  • Peggy Deamer, Yale University and The Architecture Lobby
  • Jia Gu, Materials & Applications, The Architecture Lobby
  • Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center   
  • Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
  • Mimi Zeiger, critic and curator, Art Center College of Design, The Architecture Lobby
  • Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany, USC, Free School of Architecture
Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, see the Architecture Lobby website.

Not part of the official Biennale, The Architecture Lobby to premier booklet at the New Zealand Exhibition

The Architecture Lobby is the most progressive architecture non-profit organization in the United States. It should be in the Arsenale and part of Reporting From the Front. That is not happening, so the Lobby has scrambled to participate in two collateral events. The Architecture Lobby will debut its edited booklet, Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice at the 2016 at the New Zealand Exhibition (Palazzo Bollani, Castello 3647, Venezia). This afternoon event will take place from 15:00-17:00, Friday 27 May 2016. Later that day, the Lobby will participate in Architects Meet in Fuoribiennale (Palazzo Widmann, Calle Widmann, 30121 Cannaregio, Venice).

Thursday> The Architecture Lobby brings its manifesto to New York City

billevent The Architecture Lobby is a new organization that advocates for the value of architecture in the general public but also to raise awareness inside the profession of working conditions for the majority of its practitioners. It also focuses on working conditions for young designers as they leave school and enter the profession—most with little awareness of the actual conditions of their labor and pay. The lobby has just staged two actions where it publicly read its manifesto of architectural labor-first at the Venice Architecture Biennale and recently at the AIA's national convention in Chicago. In Chicago, the lobby was thrown off the convention floor by testy AIA officials who don't want to think about the meaning of the Lobby's protest. billevent2 Now the Lobby will stage it's first public action in New York but it in a much more supportive environment—The Ronald Feldman Gallery which is currently staging an exhibition called Labor Intensive. The exhibit, curated by Elaine Angelopoulos and Scott Vincent Campbell, highlights art work that focuses on issues of labor that expand the defined role it plays in our individual lives and society. The exhibit features artists Eleanor Antin, Conrad Atkinson, Joseph Beuys, Heather Cassils, Nancy Chunn, Christine Hill, Simone Jones, Komar & Melamid, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Hannah Wilke. All the work in the show approaches labor from different viewpoints, but the curators also highlight the beauty and dignity in the work and its potential to be powerful forces for change. The Architecture Lobby event will take place this Thursday, July 17 from 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the gallery (31 Mercer Street, between Grand and Canal streets). The gallery will graciously provide wine and appetizers. Come and meet the members of the Lobby and hear about its labor manifesto and future planned actions.