Posts tagged with "Gender Issues":

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Heidi Bucher's latex casts of spaces are coming to New York

What if instead of photographing your home to remember its significance in your life, you recreated its walls, windows, and doors by casting them in liquid latex? That’s quite the committed way of capturing the space of life, but one that could also produce a more tangible record of space. The seminal Swiss sculptor and performance artist Heidi Bucher did just that in the mid-1970s and '80s. Late in her career, she discovered a new, experimental artform of  “skinning” spaces by pressing gauze against the surface of a building or object, spreading latex on top of it, and then peeling off the cast with all her might. A survey of these monumental pieces, which have been pristinely kept by her family, will be on view in the new exhibition, Heidi Bucher: The Site of Memory, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York from April 29 to June 15. Viewers will be able to see up-close and personal the details and textures that Bucher was able to capture. Featuring Bucher’s most iconic sculptures, like Borg from 1976, a piece molded on the entire cellar of her studio, the exhibition will provide insights into the artist’s intensive latex casting method and the lengths that she would go to record spaces. Also included will be works shown for the first time in the United States like Untitled (Door to the Herrenzimmer) from 1978, a sculpture that, like much of Bucher’s work, takes on an ethereal quality thanks to the mother-of-pearl she pasted over her pieces to create an iridescent sheen. Though her projects have naturally browned over time, such touches gave helped them maintain an aura of elusive depth. “I don’t think she was trying to be super precious with these materials,” said Anna Stothart, curatorial director of Lehmann Maupin. “For her, these skins had certain layers of beauty but were also meant to express the specific personal, social, and historic memories held in these architectural spaces. You can even see the residue of the paint pulled from the surface of whatever she was casting.” Bucher’s work was clearly indicative of a literal place and time in her own life, but it also had a larger, cultural meaning. According to Stothart, she was investigating the physical boundaries between the human body and the domestic environments in which women, in particular, were often confined to. The pieces shown in the exhibition center around the period when Bucher returned to a politically-charged Zurich after living in more progressive cities within the U.S. and Canada with her husband, who was a more traditional sculptor. After divorcing him, she began exploring more abstract forms of sculpture as well as feminist ideas like what it means to “take up space,” both in public and in private, as a Swiss woman. She primarily molded women’s clothing at first, which according to the exhibition description “both signified her interest in metamorphosis and served as a critical response to the rigid gender restrictions she experienced growing up.” By the time she started casting large-scale architectural structures, such as entire rooms, the concept turned into a personal and cultural commentary on removing oneself from the patriarchal past. “She would literally pull the molds off the wall using her whole body,” said Stothart. “The material is strong and she wasn’t worried about the end result being perfect, or even conserving it. I’d say she didn’t want a piece to be an exact replica of space, but the memory of it, a ghost of it.”  Heidi Bucher: The Site of Memory opens at Lehmann Maupin at 501 West 24th Street, New York on April 29. A series of videos filmed by Bucher and her sons, Mayo and Indigo Bucher, will accompany the work, unveiling the poetic ways in which the artist spoke about her process and works.
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Making money as an architect is majorly affected by where you work

Architecture is notoriously known as one of the less lucrative professional fields in the United States, especially for young practitioners. But according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where you live and work as an architect can majorly affect your annual income now and in the future. Forbes recently reported on the agency’s updated Occupational and Employment Statistics data, which reveal where architects can earn top salaries. For fully-licensed architects working full-time in the field as of May 2017, these are the average incomes found within the top 5 states: New York: $109,520 Massachusettes: $103,920 Texas: $99,580 Arizona: $95,220 California: $95,060 Alaska, of all places, provides the sixth-highest average salary to practitioners, followed by Alabama, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Minnesota. Forbes noted that if the District of Columbia were included as a state, it would rank third. Per the Occupational and Employment Statistics data, the 2017 mean annual wage for Utah, the worst state to practice architecture in terms of earnings, was $67,520. Arkansas, Maine, Idaho, and Vermont trail behind as well, offering average salaries that, when calculated altogether, hover at $70,725. In thinking about this, it’s important to consider just how many architects work in the country. According to the report, there are an estimated 103,100 architects employed in U.S. firms. California boasts the most architects with 13,880. New York has about 12,740. From there the stats drop dramatically with Texas employing 8,730, as Illinois and Florida employing 5,140 and 4,490 respectively. While these stats offer huge insights into geographical demographics, they do not break down top earnings by ethnicity, race, gender, or age. It’s no secret that even in the highest-ranking state on this list, New York, junior architects and interns—or up-and-coming designers usually under the age of 30—receive significantly less money until they earn their licensure. Even then, in some cases, those newly-minted architects aren’t given promotions or raises. It depends on the ethics and goals of firms in which they work. For women and minority architects, the reality can be just as harsh, no matter the level. Kim Dowdell, the new president of the National Organization for Minority Architects (NOMA), recently told AN that the wealth gap in the U.S. trickles so far down that young minority students are less and less likely to pursue the profession due to the cost of an architectural education. “Many of my colleagues have really high levels of student debt coupled with comparatively low professional salaries (consider doctors and lawyers) and limited flexibility and financial freedom,” she said. “How can we as an organization motivate or incentivize people to pursue architecture knowing that compensation is a challenge and the student loan debt is higher than ever?” Pay equity is arguably one of the biggest issues in the industry today. In February, The Architects’ Journal released its 2019 report on the U.K.'s gender pay gap, which unveils all documented salaries at firms that employ 250 or more people. Legally, these large-size practices must publicly reveal their gender pay gap in an effort to spread awareness on the issue. According to the article, Foster + Partners, which employs 1,061 people, includes 36 percent female architects who earn a median pay that’s 6.9 percent lower than their male counterparts. Zaha Hadid Architects has nearly the same amount of women on staff as Foster’s office, but the median pay gap is 21 percent. Arup, the global engineering and design firm, pays its female employees 16.9 percent less. Here in the U.S., where it's not a requirement to disclose firm-wide salaries, people are beginning to think more seriously about how gaps in gender, race, and pay equity may affect the internal culture of a firm and the subsequent projects produced its employees. Last summer, Jeanne Gang revealed she had closed the pay gap at Studio Gang, becoming the first firm in the country to do so. As Gang pointed out in her Fast Company article, the pay gap is one of architecture's greatest injustices and diversity in design isn’t just about filling a quota with different faces of different colors in a single office. It’s about recognizing the value that architects of all backgrounds bring to the table, and compensating them appropriately. Like any profession, the dollar amounts for an architect's salary will differ from state to state, but the respect for the mind and skills of a designer, no matter their race, gender, or language, should be the same across the board. That, according to Gang, will truly allow creativity to flourish.
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See the top 5 proposals for Brooklyn's upcoming Shirley Chisholm statue

New York is apparently moving fast to bridge the gap in the number of public monuments dedicated to men versus women. Last November, the She Built NYC initiative announced its plans to erect its first statue of the political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm and just yesterday, the group unveiled the top five artist proposals in the running for the monument's design. Among the all-female finalists are Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous, Mickalene Thomas, Tanda Francis, La Vaughn Belle, and Firelei Báez. Slated for the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the designs all feature grand visions of Congresswoman Chisholm’s “trailblazing” legacy. La Vaughn Belle Chisholm is well-known for the now-famous line: “If they don’t give you a seat the table, bring a folding chair.” Belle showcases Chisholm walking ahead of a sea of folding chairs, carrying one in her hand and stepping on what appears to be a symbolic presidential seal. The title of the piece, Chisholm Trail, alludes to her West Indian roots and how she empowered immigrants and people of all backgrounds by leaving a path for further equality in the United States. Mickalene Thomas Thomas described Chisholm in her proposal as someone who was “deeply in touch with the people” of Brooklyn. Her proposal shows the Congressperson sitting on a parked car, legs crossed as if in casual conversation, instead of at a podium or on a stage as a politician. Creating her figure at human-scale, the artist aimed to place her at eye-level with viewers in order to enhance engagement and encourage a communal atmosphere. “The monument is meant to highlight the fortitude of both Shirley Chisholm and the people she represents,” Thomas wrote in her submission. Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyfious Inspired by Chisholm's life as a civil servant—she was the first-ever woman and African American to seek the Democratic Party’s pick for president in 1971—Williams and Jeyfious envisioned the monument as a nod to Chisholm's legacy as someone who “left the door open” for others to pursue a place in politics and fight for equality. From one angle, the outline of the statue looks like the U.S. Capitol dome; from another, it’s Chisholm’s profile. According to the artists, this “symbolizes how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy.” Tanda Francis The Chisholm Trail Memorial by Tanda Francis takes the form of a bold, bronze bust of Chisholm framed by vertical jets of water and light. A towering structure with her face looking upward in hope, the monument will feature a pathway surrounding the statue with Chisholm's inspiring quotes embedded into the sidewalk. Firelei Báez Báez’s monument centers around a series of 10- to 15-foot hand-painted metal columns. Inspired by the famous monument of Nelson Mandela in Howick, South Africa, the artist has created three portraits of Chisholm that reveal themselves when viewed from different vantage points. Each visage showcases different aspects of her public role and accomplishments. An aerial view of the sculpture reveals that the beams are arranged in the West African symbol of a bird, the Sankofa. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art program has opened the proposals up for a public commentary period through Sunday, March 31. The winning design will be chosen in early April and is estimated to be built by the end of 2020.
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International Plumbing Code changes facilitate all-gender restrooms

At the 2018 meeting of the International Code Council, the council approved two amendments that could facilitate the design and creation of gender-neutral restrooms. The changes will affect the International Plumbing Code, which has been adopted by 35 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and are scheduled to appear in the 2021 version of the code. The first amendment allows "for the installation of all-gender, multiuser restrooms in public buildings," according to a statement from Joel Sanders Architect. The second amendment "requires that single-user restrooms display signage indicating that they are available to all users and not limited to a single gender," according to the firm. Joel Sanders advocated for the changes as part of Stalled!, an interdisciplinary initiative for inclusive bathroom design. Historian Susan Stryker and legal scholar Terry Kogan worked with Sanders as part of the initiative, and the National Center for Transgender Equality worked with Stalled! on the code amendments. Stalled! won a 2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Research.
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Four more statues of pioneering New York women are coming to town

Four more legendary New York women are set to be honored with permanent statues around the city: Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, and Katherine Walker. Their likenesses will be erected as part of She Built NYC, a near-year-old campaign started by New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen to address the lack of monuments dedicated to the historic accomplishments of women in New York. Selected through an open call that drew over 2,000 nominations, these four new statues, along with the previously-announced piece honoring Shirley Chisholm, will bring a She Built NYC monument to every borough. Billie Holiday Queens Borough Hall, Queens American jazz legend Billie Holiday rose to fame in the 1930s with a powerful, soulful voice. Though she was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Baltimore, Holiday’s legacy also lives in New York where she moved in 1929 as a young girl. A theater dedicated to the prominent singer was built in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in 1972 and recently renovated by MBB Architects in 2017. Elizabeth Jennings Graham Vanderbilt Avenue Corridor near Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan At just 27 years old, schoolteacher Elizabeth Jennings Graham stood up against racial segregation in the mid-19th century when she boarded a streetcar for whites only. She later wrote an account of the incident and filed a lawsuit against the Third Avenue Railroad Company and won. Because of her bravery, transit segregation was dismantled in New York and by 1860, all streetcar lines were open to African-Americans. Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías St. Mary’s Park, Bronx Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías was a lifelong public servant and pediatrician dedicated to advancing reproductive rights, and HIV/AIDS care and prevention, as well as serving communities of color. Her many leadership positions, from serving as the medical director of the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute to being the first Latinx director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), allowed her to make a significant change to not only the medical landscape in New York City but across the country. In 2001, President Bill Clinton presented Rodríguez Trías with the Presidential Citizens Medal. Katherine Walker Staten Island Ferry Landing, Staten Island As the keeper of the Robbins Reef Lighthouse in New York Harbor for over three decades, Katherine Walker helped rescue about 50 sailors from shipwrecks during her tenure. She was appointed to the position in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison after her husband died. Born in Germany, she immigrated to the United States just eight years before taking on the monumental task of overseeing all maritime movements in the Kill Van Kull, a shipping channel between Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey. According to She Built NYC, the new monuments will be commissioned through the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art process, which means community input will be at the core of the artist selection and design processes. The search for the individual artists is expected to begin at the end of this year with the fully-built statues coming online between 2021 and 2022.
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Over 80 architect-activists join Women's March on NYC

Last Saturday, over 80 architects, engineers, and construction professionals gathered to raise awareness on women's contributions to the AEC industry at the Women’s March on NYC. Sporting neon pink hard hats and bright orange signs that read, Women BUILD, the group’s message was loud and clear. Over a dozen organizations were represented; teams came from Thornton Tomasetti, Perkins Eastman, Marvel Architects, FXCollaborative, Silman Engineering, ArchiteXX, BuroHappold, and CannonDesign, among others. The leadership from FXWomen said seeing everyone march in solidarity, from young engineers to managing principals, men and women alike, was encouraging.  "The group that represented our industry at the Women’s March showed that gender equity isn’t a 'women’s issue,'" they told AN in an email. "It affects everyone and is supported by a diverse group that reflects the communities we design for." The day’s event was organized by Dattner Women’s Group. The team began reaching out to design-related companies across New York in November to get the conversation started about last weekend's march. At a community meetup last month, the firms came up with the #WomenBUILD2019 campaign and created matching posters that would boost their presence among the crowd. “Women Architects Here” some signs read, and others encouraged youth to “Join Us, Think Big.”  Carisima Koenig of the Women's Forum at CannonDesign said throughout the morning her team met other architects not directly affiliated with the Women BUILD cohort who ended up joining alongside them. "We had extra signs, so we distributed them along the march route," she said. "As a group, it made an impact to have a cohesive message and for the city to see we are here." Not only did the city take notice, but children—who marched alongside the Women BUILD group—did too. “At one point during the march, a mother and daughter were pointing to our signs and discussing what kinds of jobs the different icons represented," said Dattner's Rebecca McCarthy. "That was a really special moment. I hope that young people who saw our group will feel they can grow up to be whatever they want to be, and that we demonstrated that’s really possible.” Employees from other firms at the march issued similar sentiments about the group's influence and what the future of the industry could look like if people continue to take a stand against the problems that have long plagued architecture. They believed their shared presence together, not as competitors but as proponents of an equal society, only amplified some of the recent discussions that have come online as a result of the #MeToo movement. "We want everyone considering a career in architecture, engineering, and construction to know that the industry has a place for them," said FXWomen. "We're waiting for them and transforming this profession into one that is worthy of their talents."
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Dattner Architects organizes campaign for Saturday's Women's March on NYC

A throng of local architects, both men and women, will gather wearing pink hard hats and caution tape sashes at this Saturday’s Women’s March on NYC in an effort to raise awareness on the various roles women lead in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. Organized by Dattner Architects’ Women’s Group, firms across the city are slated to show up in support for what’s dubbed as the “Women BUILD” campaign. Emily Kotsaftis, an associate architect at Dattner, is helping spearhead the event alongside her colleagues Heather McKinstry, a studio resource leader, and Rebecca McCarthy, an architectural designer. When Kotsaftis started the in-house, grassroots group at the end of 2017, she felt a pressing need to begin a conversation on the different ways women were represented within her own office in light of the then-budding media coverage surrounding gender bias and women in the workplace. “We’ve mostly been a discussion group up until now with our first meeting held in February,” she said. “As a large firm, we have a strong representation of women at every level. We’ve been focused on establishing our group within the office, but we’re now looking to mobilize a larger community. The effort around the Women’s March has been really eye-opening because we’re connecting the community of women citywide.” The Dattner Women’s Group, led by Kotsaftis and Mary Beth Lardaro, the studio's human resources director, also includes men within the firm. Theirs is just one of several similar organizations found at AEC companies in New York. Kostaftis said other more-established groups at FXCollaborative, Thornton Tomasetti, and Arup, for example, have helped provide inspiration to her and her colleagues. Last year, Dattner organized a coalition of architects for the Women’s March NYC 2018, which attracted over 70 people from studios such as Handel Architects and BuroHappold Engineering, as well as representatives from the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. “Since late 2017, we’ve been thinking about Dattner and how our women’s group operates here,” said Kotsaftis. “Of course, I wanted to communicate with other women’s groups in order to learn about what they were doing, but now we want to become even more far-reaching to include men and women who share this interest across the city. I’m trying not to limit my thinking to my office alone." This year’s “Women BUILD” theme was birthed through a December meeting of women’s group's leaders from CannonDesign, SOM, Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, Marvel Architects, and Perkins Eastman, among others. According to McKinstry, issues such as pay equity, sexual harassment, respect on job sites, and work/life balance led the group to choose a message that communicated the types of responsibilities women take on with their jobs, family, and daily lives as citizens of the world.  “Women BUILD is a unifying theme both in that it can stand as a sentence on its own,” she said, “or be the start of something else like ‘Women Build Communities,’ or ‘Women Build Skyscrapers.” Designers across various firms have created “Women BUILD” signs to be printed for Saturday’s march and used to extoll their mission. For McCarthy and the women at Dattner, that mission goes beyond the march. She foresees Dattner helping enact real change across New York firms by developing initiatives in tandem with other women’s groups that will address the issues women face at work every day. “The last few years we’ve seen a large focus on awareness,” she said. “We’ve focused on reminding the world and those in the design, engineering, and construction fields that we care about these issues and are here to voice those issues. Now we’re ready and want to do more.” The Women’s March on NYC 2019 is organized by the Women’s March Alliance. To learn more details about Saturday’s meetup with Dattner Architects, visit the Women BUILD Facebook Group.
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Project tackling gender-restricted bathroom access wins AIA Innovation Award

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

69: Déjà Vu

Lifestyle brand 69 is the brainchild of an anonymous Los Angeles–based designer whose non-gender and non-demographic-specific clothing exuberantly suggests ideas of freedom, inclusivity, and a more fluid future. Since its founding in 2011, 69 has developed a cult following for its playful and exaggerated designs. With a strong focus on transforming denim, a typically utilitarian everyday fabric, into deeply elegant garments that resist easy categorization, 69 welcomes people of all ages, races, sexualities, and sizes into its community. For its first museum solo exhibition, 69 presents a survey of its groundbreaking clothing along with a selection of irreverent and inventive videos and photographs that blur the line between promotional material and artwork.
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Who's missing from this AIA Conference promo video? (Hint: It's not men)

Usually I speed past ads on social media as quickly as possible without breaking my infinite scroll, but when I saw the video ad for the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 pop up, I was curious to see what the all-knowing algorithms had deemed worthy of my consumption. I expected a standard promotional video highlighting familiar New York City landmarks mixed in with information about conference dates, parties, keynotes–all that good stuff. Something to get me excited about what the AIA describes as the “architecture and design event of the year!” The video is only one minute long. It’s a lighthearted, fast-paced overview of exciting things to come. But it is also a visual, visceral reminder of the status quo of architecture in the United States. Here’s the video. For those of you who cannot view it, a summary of key scenes will follow, with a general description of those present in these scenes. I’ve assumed the genders of the people in the video. At 11 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, approximately 14 cisgender men. Cisgender (or simply "cis") denotes a person whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex. At 12 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, 1 cis man. At 14 seconds: shots of a panel consisting of 3 cis men and 1 cis woman. The woman’s gender expression, which refers to her appearance in this case, is masculine. At 21 seconds: scene of 5 cis women exercising in a park. At 45 seconds: 2 cis women sitting in front of the Whitney Museum. Did you catch it? A total of at least 18 cis men are shown attending the Conference, while only one cis woman makes a fleeting appearance on a panel (where she is outnumbered by three cis men). No women are shown on the Expo floor otherwise. When cis women do show up, there are only 7 of them, and they are represented as mere consumers of architectural designs by cis men. They’re leisurely exercising at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, designed by Louis Kahn, and enjoying the view out in front of the Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano. The numbers are telling: roughly 70 percent of people in the ad are cis men, while only 30 percent are cis women. 100 percent of the cis men are depicted as architects. 0 percent of the cis women are. Let’s face it: this advertisement mirrors architecture’s long-running and notorious gender diversity problem. According to Equity by Design, the organization formerly known as The Missing 32%, in the United States, cis women represent less than 50 percent of students graduating from accredited architecture programs, and the number of cis women who are AIA members, licensed architects, and senior leadership fluctuates between 15 to 18 percent of the total. The data gathered from their surveys in 2014 and 2016 confirm what we already know about the architecture profession: women and non-binary people (those who do not identify as male or female) are pushed out of the profession at certain points in their careers, and decision-making power is still largely in the hands of cis men.   What does a one-minute video have to do with it? The AIA is aware of its gender diversity problem and, to the Institute’s credit, has been hammering away at it for several years. In 2011, the AIA Diversity Council was formed to confront issues such as the shortage of minority representation in leadership roles, unconscious bias, and sexual discrimination. In 2014, architectural organizations conducted an industry-wide study, Diversity in the Profession of Architecture, which highlighted the gross disparities in the field and the urgent need for a profession that more accurately reflects the demographics of our nation. The results led the AIA to issue a call to action by ratifying Resolution 15:1,“Equity in Architecture,” at the 2015 AIA National Convention. The resolution established the Equity in Architecture Commission. In 2017, the Commission released a report with five “keystone” areas of focus: leadership development; firm and workplace studio culture; excellence in architecture; education and career development; and, last but certainly not least, marketing, branding, public awareness, and outreach. This video, then, is part of the fifth “keystone” area of focus identified by the Equity in Architecture Commission. But the AIA seems to have lost its focus on working toward equity in this arena. Given all of the time, energy, and institutional power that has been invested in increasing gender equity in architecture, this ad betrays the AIA’s appalling lack of intention and commitment to doing the necessary work that the Equity in Architecture Commission recommends. This is disappointing for an organization that has extensive data on its own gender diversity problem and is keenly aware of its own representation to the public. The way architects are portrayed reveals a disturbing image of how the profession views itself. I understand that representation in an AIA Conference ad is not likely to affect gender diversity in architecture. Change doesn’t happen overnight, much less through algorithmically-placed adverts. But this ad does have a real effect on how women and non-binary people (like me!) feel about our inclusion within the architectural profession. Watching the video made me feel invisible, as though I’m not a real architect and I’m not invited to the conference. Barely seeing any women in represented in the ad was a shocking, surreal experience. During my second viewing, I was acutely aware of the implicit message: even if I do attend the conference, people like me don’t visit the Expo floor. I recalled attending the 2016 AIA Convention in Philadelphia and feeling wildly out of place. I could feel my hope for a better, more inclusive experience at A’18 drain away as the messaging sank in. The AIA, despite all of its efforts and good intentions, should do better. As a historically (and currently) cis male-dominated profession, the structure for supporting architects who are not cis men is severely lacking. Women and non-binary people face professional and academic settings that are hostile towards their career advancements. We receive messages in so many ways that we should not be architects. Just last year, a group of more than 50 architectural professionals wrote a letter to the Architect’s Newspaper imploring the AIA to reevaluate their keynote speakers (6 out of 7 were cis men; one was a cis woman and not an architect). We need a cultural change in architecture that also goes beyond representation.The architects who are honored by the AIA and other organizations merely reinforce dominant, patriarchal power structures. When will the five keystones for equity in architecture become a serious priority? When will architectural education become accessible enough to reflect the gender and racial diversity of the country? When will women and non-binary people finally feel represented and welcome at all stages of their architectural careers? I’m tired of having the same diversity and inclusion conversations. We have announced ourselves and have been speaking out. The future of the architectural profession lies in how well it welcomes the next generation. The next generation is here, but we don’t see ourselves reflected and seen. We need you to do better. See you on the Expo floor. A.L. Hu is an architectural designer, organizer, and activist living in New York City.
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Zaha Hadid Architects paid women employees about 20 percent less in 2017

Following a 2017 change to U.K. law that required firms with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gaps, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has released data showing their female employees were paid 20.86 percent less on average in 2017. The firm’s pay gap reflect a general trend across the industry, although some firms have an average pay gap as low as ten percent, according to the Architect’s Journal. Through an in-house report produced by ZHA (available here), the firm compared the median incomes earned by both men and women–the middle-most figure–to calculate the pay disparity. Men were paid 20.86 percent more on average and received bonuses 64.94 larger on average, while only 75.6 percent of women received a bonus in 2017 versus 84.05 percent of men at the studio. Across the firm’s 310 U.K. employees, 37 percent are women. ZHA has chalked this imbalance up to the higher percentage of men in leadership positions, who have been with the firm the longest and command bonuses that are tied to the company’s revenue. According to the report:
“This pay gap exists because [a] higher proportion of our longest-serving team members who grew the practice with Zaha Hadid over the past 30 years are male and have continued to lead the company since her passing in 2016. We therefore currently have a smaller proportion of women than men in higher paid senior positions.”
In an effort to address these imbalances, ZHA has increased the company’s maternity pay and partnered with the Architect’s Journal’s Women in Architecture forum. A mentorship program has also been established throughout the firm. Still, even as firms are motivated by public exposure to address the imbalances in pay between men and women, studies have shown that the pay gap is widening. Foster + Partners, AECOM, and other big names have disclosed similar figures, though they claim that the imbalance also results from having more men at the top and not as an equal pay issue. Foster + Partners has, for their part, also committed to broadening gender diversity at the senior level, while AECOM pledged to create a more inclusive workforce. Transparency in the field has become a pressing topic as of late, as more and more women have been coming forward with their experiences regarding harassment, discrimination, and general misconduct. A full list of U.K. companies who have disclosed their pay and bonus gap data is available here. Companies have until April 4 to disclose their pay gap report, and more industry figures will be forthcoming.