Posts tagged with "Diversity Issues":

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AIA|LA publishes equity, diversity, and inclusivity best practices guide

The American Institute of Architects' Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) has published an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) best practices guide that aims to provide a roadmap for how firms of all sizes can begin to transform themselves into more socially just organizations.  The guide is published as a PDF here and can also be acquired in hardcopy from AIA|LA staff.  The double-sided, tri-fold pamphlet is printed on cardstock to be a handy, easy-to-reference guide durable enough to be kept at one’s desk for long-term use, according to AIA|LA executive director Carlo Caccavale, the major force behind the guide. In terms of its content, the guide is focused on inspiring small but meaningful organizational tweaks that might help usher in an EDI-focused firm culture. To create this resource, Caccavale and AIA|LA executive assistant Kirstin Jensvold-Rumage scoured existing EDI guides published by universities, architecture firms, and other entities in search of a digestible list of incremental policy changes and cultural shifts any architecture firm could undertake.  “The whole idea,” Caccavale explained over telephone, “is to make it easy to read.” The guide is divided up into six categories and includes a section that covers how to mitigate unintentional and implicit bias in hiring, for example. The backside of the guide is split up based on approaches that can be taken by firms of various sizes.  Some of the measures that can be taken by larger firms include:
  • Making an internal commitment to launch a specific role or representative in the firm to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Encouraging 50/50 gender equity by 2020 by promoting gender equity in staff makeup, hiring practices, and project selection.
  • Building and embracing alternate workplace models that foster inclusivity like authoring internal anti-discrimination policies and offering flexible hours and telecommuting to reduce employee turnover.
Some suggestions for smaller firms include:
  • Sponsoring and participating in programs organized by ethnic or cultural minority groups in the field.
  • Participating in EDI trainings hosted by AIA|LA and other approved agencies.
  • Ensuring there is diversity and community representation in architectural renderings, imagery, and presentations.
Through the guide, which was instigated, supported, and approved by the AIA|LA board of directors, AIA|LA also emphasizes its own commitment to “walk the walk” by instilling EDI best practices across its own organization. Specifically, AIA|LA has pledged to increase the representation of ethnic and cultural minorities and women in leadership roles in the organization by 1%—7 people—by 2020. By 2030, the organization hopes to increase the number of minority and female AIA|LA members by another 20 individuals, as well. On top of all this, the organization also hopes to have its general membership better reflect the diversity of the City and County of Los Angeles by 2030. With the guide, AIA|LA is also looking to push how it recognizes and supports cultural diversity and gender parity by folding these objectives into its own advocacy efforts and awards programs.  A few of the planned changes include:
  • Advertising the opening of pre-qualification lists for government contracts to small firms (government contracts are often structured to benefit minority- and women-led organizations).
  • Infusing the organization’s Presidential Awards policy with EDI values as guidelines for the selection process.
  • Organizing college tours of Historic Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) to allow firm leaders and hiring teams to see student talent and understand the legitimacy of HBCU architecture programs.
In a press release announcing the guide, AIA|LA President Tania Van Herle said, “The actualization of equity, inclusiveness, and diversity is fundamental to human dignity, leading to opportunity, fully realized careers, and thriving practices.” Van Herle added, “EDI also looks outward—it directly influences our capabilities to serve communities.” Caccavale explained that more changes are in the works from AIA|LA as well, including a possible new merit award that would highlight minority and female talent along the lines of the AIA’s existing Whitney M. Young, Jr. award, which is presented to firms and individuals that engage in socially-meaningful architectural work.  The unveiling of the EDI guide comes as the chapter has steadily increased its efforts to promote cultural, racial, and gender diversity among the ranks of architects and also precedes a set of new rules added to the national AIA organization’s Code of Ethics that relate to issues of sexual harassment, professionalism, and environmental concerns. The Los Angeles chapter launched a Women in Architecture Committee in 2016 to “promote positive change for women in the field of architecture” and has held its EDI-focused Encompass conference since 2017 to help “actualize diversity and inclusiveness to advance the profession.” On September 20, AIA|LA will host the fifth iteration of its POWERFUL event, a symposium to empower women in architecture. The event has grown steadily over the years from a small gathering to a full-on conference packed with panel discussions, keynote speakers, and break-out sessions.  The conference will showcase nearly a dozen speakers, two panel discussions, and 24 lunchtime discussion sessions. Speakers and panelists for the conference include:
  • Pooja Bhagat, principal, Poojabhagat Architects + Planners
  • Raven Hardison, lead designer, Parsons
  • Kerenza Harris, director of design technology, Morphosis Architects
  • Rachel Jordan, architect, CO Architects
  • Elizabeth Mahlow, founding partner, Nous Engineering
  • Elaine Molinar, partner and managing director, Snøhetta
  • Lisa Pauli, design director, R&A Architecture + Design
  • Anne Schopf, design partner, Mahlum Architects
  • Maria Smith, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi
  • Elizabeth Timme, co-founder, LA-Más
  • Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, dean, Woodbury School of Architecture
  • Deborah Weintraub, chief deputy city engineer, City of Los Angeles
Laura Friedman, assistant speaker pro tempore of the California State Assembly and Assembly Member, District 43/Glendale will be the conference’s keynote speaker.  For more information on EDI goals, POWERFUL, and AIA|LA’s other diversity and inclusion initiatives, see the AIA|LA website. 
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D.C. exhibit chronicles the history of diversity in American architecture

Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. stood before a crowd of mostly white and male architects as he delivered a historic speech that called out racism and other issues of diversity in the architecture and design industries. Today, the profession has arguably improved thanks to his words and subsequent leaders. A new exhibition, 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr., at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D.C., surveys the legacy of the National Urban League, which Young led for a decade, and his impact on the AIA. Following Young’s exhortation, AIA officials undertook several actions, including launching a task force to support equal opportunities for minority groups, and developing architecture programs to improve living conditions in urban neighborhoods. In 1970, the Diversity Advancement Scholarship was created thanks to a Ford Foundation grant to recognize talented and emerging minority designers. Shortly following Young’s death in 1971, the AIA founded the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award which recognizes architects and organizations who contribute in areas of affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access. The Octagon Museum exhibition highlights past recipients of the award, from the inaugural recipient Robert J. Nash, FAIA, who became the first African American architect elected to national AIA office, to the latest recipient, Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, who was the first Native American woman to become a licensed US architect. “My dad had wanted to be an architect since he was in high school... His father, a tribal leader, once said, ‘One day, our tribe will be in a position to rebuild and change our situation, and we are going to need architects and lawyers to do it,’” Eagle Bull explained in a 2017 AIA interview. “But when my father went to his non-Native counselor at school, the counselor said, ‘The best you can hope for is to be a teacher.’ So he became a teacher, and had a wonderful career, but he always regretted not becoming an architect.” At her firm, Encompass Architects in Lincoln, Nebraska, Eagle Bull is committed to creating culturally relevant and responsible design for Native American communities. The exhibition also showcases key figures in the fight for diversity within architecture. Alongside Young and Eagle Bull, the list includes Paul R. Williams, FAIA, who was the first black architect in the AIA College of Fellows and defined Southern California Style. Julia Morgan, FAIA, posthumously became the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal and used her combined talents within technology and design to further the field. Also included in the exhibit is an introduction to the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), which aims at leveling the professional playing field, as well as a profile of Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, who was the first African American woman elected to the AIA College of Fellows in 1980 and received the Whitney Young Award in 2008. 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. also features a comprehensive timeline starting in 1857 when the AIA was founded in New York City. It follows the AIA's history up to the present era when Pittsburgh architect William J. Bates, FAIA, became the second elected African American AIA president, succeeding Marshall Purnell, FAIA, in 2007. Other highlighted key leaders include Robert R. Taylor, the first academically-trained African American architect, Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, the first woman to receive the AIA Topaz Medallion, and Gordon Chong, FAIA, the first elected Asian American AIA president. Marci B. Reed, the executive director of the Architects Foundation, noted that both the Diversity Advancement Scholarship Program and the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award help underrepresented minority students to pursue architectural studies and recognize architects and organizations that champion causes of equity and social justice. Reed hopes that the exhibition will “demonstrate the progress we have made since 1968, and how seriously the AIA and the Architects Foundation take Young’s charge today.” 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. is now on view through November 24 at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D.C. It was organized by the Architects Foundation, a philanthropic partner of the AIA.   50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. On view through November 24, 2018 The Octagon Museum 1799 New York Ave NW Washington, DC 20006 Thursday–Saturday, 1–4pm
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New NCARB report reveals diversity issues on the path to licensure

The architecture industry has faced difficulties recently with the issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion with the rise of the #MeToo movement and harassment allegations, including those against Richard Meier. It seems only timely that the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released their latest report on diversity in architecture, revealing that attrition along the path to licensure remains significantly higher for non-white individuals. The 2018 NCARB by the Numbers study reported that diversity among licensure candidates and new architects continues to improve over the years, even though the industry traditionally skews white and male. But the data also revealed that improvement in diversity happens mainly in the early career stages. Of non-white candidates who started their NCARB Record in 2008, only 33 percent had completed the requirements for licensure by 2017—15 percent less than their white counterparts. In general, non-white candidates are also 25 percent more likely to not get their license than their white peers, according to the report. The report also noted that while women still remain underrepresented in the industry, gender equity is gradually on the rise. The percentage of all Certificate holders who are women rose to 20 percent, a positive trend that is on its third successive year. Although the report data suggests a shift towards gender and racial equality, progress is slow, and for many in the industry, there still needs a lot more to be done. In light of the #MeToo movement, which has given women a platform to speak up against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, equity has become an increasingly vital subject of discussion. As the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 kicks off, industry professionals are taking the opportunity to raise awareness about these issues. Planned events include a flash mob, workshops on #MeToo, and a resolution requiring ethical and equitable workplaces. The full 2018 NCARB by the Numbers will be released in July.
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AIA announces 2018 Diversity Recognition Program honorees

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 honorees of its Diversity Recognition Program, now in its 10th year. The program seeks to recognize those who have substantially committed to increasing diversity in the field of architecture, as well as those who have challenged the traditional ways of doing things. This year’s honorees are the Maryland-based Architecture, Construction, Engineering Mentor Program (ACE), and the organization, Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia). The ACE Mentor Program, founded in 1994 in Rockville, Maryland, is a workforce development program created by AEC industry members as a way of getting high school students interested in a career in design or construction. The program supplies students with scholarships, mentorship opportunities, and support as they pursue an education in an AEC field. To date, over 1,000 schools and 9,000 students participate in the program annually, and ACE has awarded over $15 million in grants and scholarships since its founding. Iowa Women in Architecture was co-founded by four women in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2011 as a nonprofit that would support women in architecture and serve as a resource for every stage of the profession. The group’s mission is to increase the visibility of women in design, advocate for women in design fields, and to help advance women to leadership positions. This year’s AIA jurors included:
  • Steven Spurlock, FAIA,
  • Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, and
  • Jonathan Penndorf, FAIA
Both honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City this June. Past honorees have included AIA San Francisco – Equity by Design (2017) and The Alberti Program: Architecture for Young People (2016).
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Here are some scholarships and resources for women in architecture

It's no secret that architecture has a diversity problem. Though roughly half of architecture grads are women, women make up only 14 percent of those employed in the architecture and engineering occupations, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (and those in the field still average salaries that are 20 percent less than their male counterparts). While some things are changing as the industry opens its eyes to the wide variety of professionals in the design industries, it's undeniable that still more needs to be done. In celebration of International Women's Day, we've rounded up a list of resources to help support and connect women in architecture, design, and related fields. Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation Founded in 2002 by famed architect Beverly Willis, this organization seeks to increase awareness of women architects throughout history with projects like the Pioneering Women of American Architecture website, while also fostering the next generation of industry voices through initiatives like the Emerging Leaders Program and the Built By Women event series. National Organization of Minority Architects NOMA works to promote diversity in all aspects of the design professions, through community engagement and professional development, with the goal of minimizing the effects of racism in the field. Check with local chapters for opportunities geared toward women minorities in the design professions, including networking meet-ups and lecture series. ArchiteXX This independent, unaffiliated organization for women in architecture, composed of academics and practitioners, seeks to transform the architecture profession by "bridging the academy and practice." Every month, ArchiteXX sends out a list of resources and opportunities specifically of interest to women in academia and practice. Those interested can sign up through their website. Architects Foundation The Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Academic Scholarship, which was named in honor late founder of the firm Payette and founder of the AIA's Women's Leadership Summit, is an annual $10,000 award for a woman entering their third year of undergraduate study or beyond. In addition, each recipient is paired with a senior-level mentor from Payette, to help her grow her professional network. AIA While many local AIA chapters offer their own resources for women, the nationwide, Women's Leadership Summit has grown from a grassroots movement to a national phenomenon as the biannual program prepares to celebrate its 10-year anniversary with the 2019 edition. American Planning Association Foundation The American Planning Association Foundation's Judith McManus Price Scholarship offers awards to women, African American, Hispanic, and Native American students currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program approved by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), with plans to work in the public sector and demonstrated financial need. Scholarships range from $2,000 and $5,000, and application forms will be available in early April for 2018 applications. Association for Women in Architecture + Design AWA+D is a group dedicated to promoting the education and careers of women in the fields of architecture and design. They offer a variety of resources, including foundation offering a fellowship program that grants a women with 10-plus years design experience in Southern California the funding to produce a significant work of publishing or research. National Organization of Women in Construction Each year, the professional organization awards some $25,000 in scholarships (ranging from $500 to $2,500) for undergraduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA in construction-related fields. Houzz Scholarship Program The online design community offers twice-yearly student awards, including the Women in Architecture Scholarship. The $2,500 prize is open to female students studying architecture or architectural engineering with the goal of working in the residential sphere. American Association of University Women With roots dating back to 1881, the AAUW offers a variety of programs promoting education and equity for women and girls. The Selected Professions Fellowships offers grants for those pursuing fields where women's participation has historically been low, including architecture and engineering. What are your favorite resources for women in architecture? Spread the word in the comments. And there's still time to have your voice heard in the AIA 2018 Equity in Design Survey. The online survey closes March 16.
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UT Austin hires experts on border communities and environmental justice

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSoA) has announced two new teaching hires as part of the school's ongoing Race and Gender in the Built Environment Initiative. Edna Ledesma has joined as a teaching fellow for the next academic year and Miriam Solis will begin a tenure-track position in the Fall of 2018. This announcement comes on the heels of the university naming Michelle Addington as dean of the school earlier this year, though the initiative pre-dates her tenure at the school. UTSoA is a leader among architecture schools when it comes to diversity, having originated several internal commissions and programs as far back as 2008 to address the growing calls for equitable representation in academia. The school in recent years has announced new academic tracks in Latin American Architecture and expanded the offerings of its Community and Regional Planning program, one of the most robust programs of its kind. In many cases, it is not simply a matter of who the school is hiring, but also what research those scholars bring into the fold and how they contribute to a heterogenous learning environment. Ledesma, who holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Science from Texas A&M University and has two previous graduate degrees in design, focuses on issues related to border communities and the cultural landscape of immigrant populations in Texas. Ledesma’s research formally began in 2013 when she organized a series of design engagements called “dialogos” in the South Texas city of Brownsville. Her work seeks to bridge the gap between communities and city governments to help define the design agency of traditionally under-represented groups. Ledesma noted that she was drawn to this fellowship because of UTSoA’s distinct interdisciplinary approach to design and research, which often allows for cross-pollination among the school's academic programs. Solis will enter her professorship next year with a PhD in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley after completing a Switzer Fellowship for her work in environmental planning. Her research focuses on social and environmental justice related to the development of urban infrastructures, an area of research that she has contributed to through her years of experience in California. One of Solis’ ongoing projects concerns the equitable redevelopment of San Francisco’s wastewater system which has historically negatively impacted African American communities.
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Work by designers of color celebrated in a new exhibition at the Center for Architecture

Say It Loud: Distinguished Black Designers of NYCOBA | NOMA celebrates the creative work of black architects across the U.S. The exhibition is being held at the Center for Architecture (CFA) in Manhattan and runs through April 1 of this year. Roughly 2,090 licensed architects across the United States are African American, accounting for two percent of the profession. "Moreover, the achievements of these individuals are seldom recognized," said the CFA in a press release. Say it Loud will focus on African American accomplishments in design across New York and the rest of the country. Work from 20 designers including Harlem-based architect Roberta Washington; Mark Gardner, a principal at Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects; and Yolande Daniels, co-founding principal at studioSUMO, will be on display. Student work from NYC students too will be shown along with projects that won the Jumaane Omar Stewart Award and Diversity in the School of Architecture Award. The exhibit is a product of a coalition between the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA) and The New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). FXFOWLE are also supporting the exhibition. Further details can be found here.
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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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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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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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New Harvard GSD fellowship aims to promote student diversity

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) recently announced the creation of the Phil Freelon Fellowship Fund, part of a wider $110-million-plus push (dubbed "Grounded Visionaries") to improve and expand the GSD. The fund will provide financial aid to African Americans and other underrepresented groups. Phil Freelon, the architect for whom the fellowship is named, called the fellowship’s establishment “an important step in broadening the GSD’s reach” at the announcement ceremony last week. “As the design profession continues to attract a more diverse talent base, this gift will provide students of color with financial assistance that could make pursuing an advanced degree at the GSD possible,” he said. Freelon earned his Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a Loeb Fellow at the GSD from 1989-1990. He is still closely involved with the GSD as a lecturer and researcher. His firm, The Freelon Group, has won dozens of awards for designing museums, higher education spaces, and science and technology facilities, and was acquired by Perkins + Will in 2014, where Freelon now serves on the board and as managing and design director of the North Carolina office. His work includes the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Historic Emancipation Park in Houston, and the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. James G. Stockhard, Jr., former curator of the Loeb Fellowship, praised him as a role model for students at last week’s event. “He is the kind of leader—strong, clear, selfless, and principled—who helps the rest of us find the courage to join him in striving for the best we and our society can be. He asks us to be the best designers, the best colleagues, and the best citizens we can imagine,” he said.
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AN talks to Gabrielle Bullock, director of global diversity at Perkins+Will

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), started in 1971 by a group of African American architects at that year’s American Institute of Architects conference in Detroit, Michigan, is holding its 44th Annual Conference in Los Angeles this week. The conference aims to bring together a diverse group of professionals with the aim of advancing the standing of minority architects throughout the field. It will run from Wednesday, October 12 to Saturday, October 15, 2016. In preparing for the conference, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) interviewed Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, NOMA member, and director of global diversity for Perkins+Will, to discuss diversity issues within the architectural profession. The Architect’s Newspaper: What does the term “diversity” mean to a large, globally-based firm like Perkins+Will? Gabrielle Bullock: I’ll go straight to our Mission Statement, which I think succinctly captures the value we place on diversity: “We believe that inclusion spurs creativity and that innovation is born from an engaged culture of diverse people and ideas. In this global environment, we are committed to building an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities and clients we serve. Diversity: Different thoughts, ideas, and approaches that result from an individual’s cultural background, experience, physical capabilities, skills, ethnicity, education, race, religion, age, gender, lifestyle, and all other characteristics that make each person unique.” You are the Director of Global Diversity at Perkins+Will, can you please describe your position and how it came to be? In 2013, I proposed and designed an approach to creating a more diverse, inclusive, and engaged organization. As one of .2 percent female African-American licensed architects in the US (and usually the “only one in the room”) I was personally committed to championing the advancement of diversity and inclusion in Perkins+Will and the profession. As an architect working with a global firm working all over the world, it became clear that we should mirror the societies and clients we serve. We believe that a more diverse team (in all senses of the word) would provide more innovative, relevant and rich solutions to our work and culture, and ultimately make us more successful. I developed an outline of what my role and the program would focus on along with preliminary expected outcomes and goals. After my appointment as Director of Global Diversity, I took a deep dive into the firm, visiting each office and having honest and at times uncomfortable discussions we call “listening tours.” I asked the staff what they thought about diversity and inclusion, and got unique perspectives. In some offices, the consensus was that we needed to improve racial diversity, in others, concerns surrounded issues of gender and the inter-generational workforce. The yearlong process gave me an idea of the challenges Perkins + Will faces and how to address them uniquely. It was clear that we needed training. I engaged a Diversity and Inclusion (D+I) specialist, Global Diversity Collaborative, to deliver a half-day workshop to the leadership in each office. Through that process, each office determined what their specific challenges were and created their own strategic plan. We made this an accountable program and now continually assess progress according to our stated goals. The initiative is part of our culture and part of our evaluation process: We try to look at everything through a diversity lens. The board, CEO, and office leaders get a progress report from me every year. We now have something called a Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan with qualitative and quantitative metrics focused on all aspects of our organization like office culture, cultural advocacy, talent retention and recruitment, leadership and commitment, and educational outreach. Fascinating. What are some of your specific responsibilities as Director of Global Diversity? As Director of Global Diversity, I am the strategic and organizational champion tasked with conceptualizing and driving the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan throughout the firm. My primary responsibilities include: leading the Diversity Council; communicating Perkins + Will’s strategy, mission and vision internally and externally; leading the development of diversity education and awareness strategies impacting workplace culture, recruitment, and retention, as well as marketing, pipeline outreach, and leadership; and developing metrics to monitor progress toward the fulfillment of the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan. For Perkins + Will, engagement is the key action point—the step that makes diversity and inclusion matter, because it points to an individual’s level of influence on a team or a project, not just their presence in the room. My work is not “just an initiative” or lip service from a large firm. For us, this is a call to action, not an exercise. We are loud, driven, and clear: We promote our mission, call for commitment and accountability, and see this work as being about advancing the culture at Perkins + Will, not about simply numbers—we are integrating the plan in all business practices across the firm. Diversity is purposeful and deliberate. What would you say are some of the bigger diversity-related challenges the architectural profession is facing in the long term? The most significant challenge is the lack of racial and ethnic diversity of the profession, specifically with African-American and Hispanic representation. The profession should mirror the communities and society it serves. With an increasingly diverse population in the US and globally, racial demographics are woefully underrepresented in the architecture profession, overall. Another challenge is gender equity and representation in the profession. Issues around work-life integration, pay equity, and career advancement are common issues in the profession at large. Increasing generational differences in the workforce are also a challenge. As architects, we will have to examine, adapt, and advance the way we work intergenerationally if we want to retain emerging professionals and attract future generations to the profession. How can a large, global firm like Perkins+Will become a diversity leader in architecture and beyond? Be bold and be brave! Be loud, clear, and driven! Also, commit to diversity as a core value and not just the right thing to do. With any corporate value or goal, there are strategies and accountability. As an example: The architecture industry embraced sustainability as an imperative to survival. Now sustainability is in the DNA of our profession, and if you aren’t doing it, you are irrelevant. Making diversity a core value should be the same. At Perkins+Will, because our advocacy goes beyond our own firm to the profession as a whole, we are involved with leading and participating in national initiatives that aim to address equity and diversity in the profession. As an appointed member of the the AIA Equity in Architecture Commission and Implementation Team, I am helping to develop a framework for a well-conceived and thoughtful action plan, and making recommendations for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession. The intent is to create greater urgency within the profession and the Architecture Engineering and Construction community about the tremendous need to have a better representation of in the architecture field. Leadership starts at the top of the organization: Our CEO, Board of Directors, office leaders are all committed to advancing the firm’s Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement goals. By getting involved, taking a leadership role and actively advocating for change, any large firm can become a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the architecture profession and beyond. I am frequently asked to speak on the issue of the value of diversity for groups and organizations like Greenbuild, IIDA, ASID, National Organization of Minority Architects, and AE Advisors as well as for publications like Metropolis, Architectural Record, and Boutique Design. I also get invited to share insight with local architectural and engineering firms: All of this is part of being a leader. The Directory of African American Architects recently surpassed the 2,000 member mark. African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population in the U.S. but only about two percent of registered architects are African-American, with African American women consisting of .02 percent of the overall total, as well. What do you see as some of the ways to change that underrepresentation? Here are a Few Strategies:
  • Strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing outreach, awareness, and exposure to young African-American children. Often, architecture is not presented as a viable career path to the underrepresented youth. We can do this by mentoring and K-12 outreach.
  • Reshape recruitment teams to represent a cross-section of genders, ages, and races in order to attract the more diverse candidates we want.
  • Partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to proactively recruit and mentor students. We are in the planning stages of creating such a program.
  • Examine community college and university transfer requirements to attract community college students to accredited programs.
  • Engage in the purposeful and deliberate recruitment by firms and colleges for diverse students. If schools and firms don’t demonstrate their interest and value in a diverse community on their website and recruitment collateral, many candidates will not apply because they “don’t see themselves represented.”
  • Publically highlight the merits and importance of a more diverse profession to create more relevant architecture to improve the “image” problem the profession has of being a “rich person's profession."
Can you provide some general diversity statistics for Perkins+Will? How does the firm stack up against other firms and the profession overall? I do not have demographic statistics on other firms. However, below are statistics compared to the AIA. Perkins+Will Demographic Statistics:
  • Gender Diversity 2015: 45 percent Female, 55 percent Male (Female: up 1 percent from 2014)
  • Racial Diversity 2015: 26 percent Non-White, 74 percent White (Non-White: up 3 percent from 2014)
Perkins+Will Leadership Demographics:
  • Principals 2015: 25 percent female
  • Associate Principals 2015: 32 percent female
  • Associates/Senior Associates: 38 percent and 44 percent female respectively
Since implementing our Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan, we have increased gender and racial diversity, though modestly so. We recognize this is a journey and not a sprint, so it’s the long view that’s important for us. The diversity of our leadership ranks has steadily improved over the last three years as we deliberately focus on gender, racial, and generational makeup of our Leadership Institute and emerging professionals programs. At the individual office level, have changes increases in diversity among the staff broadened the firm's client pool correspondingly? Is there a relationship between the what the office looks like and what sorts of projects get taken on? As we’ve increased [the] diversity of our staff there has not necessarily been a direct correlation to the types of clients we have. However, with a more diverse and engaged talent pool that embodies varied cultural and community connections, there is a cultural awareness and insight brought to the design and team, and in some cases, a stronger cultural connection to the client. This connection between our work, our people, and the communities we serve absolutely makes for a strong and culturally relevant design solution. In addition, I would say the more broad our talent pool, the more broad our client and project opportunities. There have been cases where a more diverse team that reflects the diversity of the client has been a competitive advantage. Conversely, there have been situations in the past where our team was not diverse enough, did not reflect the diversity of the client, and was at a disadvantage. Can you please speak to some of the work you have done with HBCUs in an effort to increase African-American interest in architecture at the grade school and college levels? In its final planning stage, the Perkins+Will/HBCU Partnership Program’s goal is to strengthen the academic pipeline of underrepresented groups. With that in mind, Perkins+Will and the deans of the HBCU architecture schools collaborated to create a program that would provide mentoring, counseling and support to HBCU students in a comprehensive manner. Exposure and Awareness is the first step in broadening access and opportunities for the students by providing hands-on information and insight into what Perkins+Will and other large design firms are looking for in candidates: The three components of the program include:
  • Career Fairs: A local team of Perkins+Will staff participates in an annual regional career fair of the HBCU’s by geographic location, pairing the HBCU and P+W office closest to the school.
  • Annual Office Visit: Perkins+Will will host HBCU students for a half day office visit including office tour, project presentations, and resume/portfolio review.
  • Lecture Series: Working with HBCU leadership, Perkins+Will will develop a lecture series to be curated around relevant architectural practice and design. The lectures will be delivered on each HBCU campus on a rotating basis and virtually across the others. Through a lecture series we can harness the vast wealth of knowledge and expertise within Perkins+Will and other firms.
Our Atlanta office piloted the Career Fair and Office Visit with Tuskegee University this past spring with tremendous success. We have seen the positive impact we have on students’ career development simply by investing our time and knowledge. We were fortunate enough to have hired a Tuskegee graduate as a result of these activities.