Posts tagged with "Gender Issues":

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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.
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Portland Building swaps around some single-gender and all-gender bathrooms

When the City of Portland converted its 600 municipally-owned single-stall restrooms into all-gender facilities back in 2016, the change included converting two multi-stall, single-gendered restrooms on the second floor of Michael Graves’s iconic Portland Building to all-gender facilities, as well. The multi-stall, all-gender restroom change is part of a city pilot program the city developed in conjunction with the $195 million renovation to Graves’s postmodern masterpiece led by architects DLR Group. The city is pursuing various alternatives to single-gendered bathroom facilities as a result of the passage of a recent bill aimed at “removing barriers to a safe and inclusive workplace for employees…  creating spaces which are welcoming to all visitors, and…  treating all people with respect and dignity,” according to the resolution instituting the changes. City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, originally one of the proponents behind the move toward all-gender bathrooms, was not happy with the result in the multi-stall facilities, however, Willamette Week reports. The Portland City Commission has been meeting in the Portland Building while their usual meeting facilities undergo repairs and, after an inspection, the commissioner became critical of the new arrangement, saying via email to other commissioners, “Being alone in the facility, I was able to stand on the commode in one stall and peer over the top of the divider into the next. It is also easy to peer under the dividers.” Fritz even threatened to refuse to attend the meetings unless something was done about the situation. As a result of the tussle, City authorities moved in March to convert one of the two multi-stall restrooms on the second floor of the Portland Building back to a single-gendered, women’s room. In exchange, one of the multi-stall women’s rooms on the ground floor was converted to an all-gender facility. The change left some, like City Commissioner Nick Fish—an early supporter of all-gender restrooms who originally brought the resolution to Council last year—happier than they were before. Fish told Willamette Week that having all-gender facilities on two floors was better than having them only on one. But still, as Fritz pointed out, the design of the all-gender facilities leaves much to be desired in terms of privacy. The controversy will likely serve as a valuable lesson as the city’s pilot program—and not to mention the renovations to the Portland Building—move forward. The move comes as President Trump has moved in recent weeks to strip students the right to use bathrooms that coordinate with their preferred gender identity and amid a wider cultural rift regarding the use of bathrooms resulting from the passage of North Carolina’s controversial and discriminatory HB 2—the Public Facilities Privacy and —which sought to make it illegal for cities to expand anti-discrimination protections in public places and workplaces in the state.  
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Joel Sanders on the past and future of gender issues in architecture

Architecture anchors a cultural obsession with gendered space. As debate around bathroom access for trans and gender-nonconforming people continues, architects have an opportunity—an obligation—to shape the discourse by creating truly gender-inclusive spaces. On the 20th anniversary of Stud, architect Joel Sanders’s iconic book on queer male spaces, The Architect's Newspaper invited Sanders and Alessandro Bava, of the London-based collective åyr, to discuss how gender informs the architecture of everyday life.

Alessandro Bava: What prompted you to put Stud together 20 years ago?

Joel Sanders: I would say that Stud was an outgrowth of two converging forces. Stud, you know, arose as a result of the urgent social issues that were prompted by the age of AIDS. I was especially influenced by a group of friends of mine who were part of a collective called Gran Fury. They were a group of artists and graphic designers who emerged out of ACT UP and were making these agitprops and were using visual culture to address an urgent issue. And I found myself wanting to think about how I could—as an architect—make a contribution to that cause.

The second overlapping force was the emergence of gender studies and queer theory in the 1980s and ’90s. Stud was very much influenced by work that had been done by queer theorists, in particular Judith Butler and her notion of performativity. Performing an identity is sort of enabled by architecture. Butler frequently referred to drag queens and drag kings, talking about their exaggerated gestures, makeup, their costumes, not as innate but performed. I took that one step further and looked at scenography, architecture, and ultimately the built environment as a stage that enabled the performance of various gender roles.

In the introduction to Stud, you say that anything that threatens the supposed “masculinity” of buildings is to be erased and put to the side. For example, decoration has always been described as this feminine component to architecture. My interpretation is that architecture has been traditionally impermeable to any queer theory discourse. Do you feel the same way?

What was beginning to happen back then was that a first generation of architectural theorists was exploring issues of feminism as they impacted women. Architecture often belatedly absorbs larger academic trends. Many women critics were emerging—including a colleague of mine at Princeton, Beatriz Colomina, who would later come out with Sexuality & Space, as well as one of my teachers, Mary McLeod, and also others like Dolores Hayden and Catherine Ingraham, for example.

But at that time as far as I can tell, none of my colleagues were looking at the impact of masculinity or queer theory at that time. Queer theory was a younger discourse, and I was looking at how this new, emerging field of queer studies could impact and reshape how I was thinking as an architect.

You mentioned architectural theory. The emergence of queer theory also overlaps with deconstructivist architecture and Mark Wigley’s important show at MoMA [Deconstructivist Architecture]. Princeton was kind of unique in that I think there was a group of us who were decidedly interested in cultural studies and how they could impact architecture.

Books like Sexuality & Space are still quite iconic for this area of architecture theory. What other publications are of consequence in the discussion today?

Around this time we saw the rise of journals like Assemblage and October, and I think that history and cultural studies were gaining currency in the American architectural schools. I see it as a kind of short-lived Golden Age. Shortly after, American architectural culture became refocused on mostly formal issues that had to do with the impact of the computer for architecture, which is also important.

I think other academic disciplines like literature and history began to assume that cultural analysis involves thinking about the intersection of gender, race, and class as they’ve historically impacted different cultural discourses. And it became almost a matter of course that to be a responsible historian or a responsible literary critic, it meant that, almost as a point of departure, you were obligated to consider those issues. That has not happened in the same way in architecture. I don’t know if you agree.

I completely agree. I think nowadays, 20 years later, there is a completely new window that is opening that has to do with the fact that certain issues have reached the cultural mainstream.

Yes. I think the time is right for the kind of reemergence of what I hope is a healthy and active discourse around national-politics issues of feminism, of Hillary Clinton, of transgender issues like the anti-discrimination laws. And also Black Lives Matter. I mean there’s so much happening. Open up any newspaper and there’s going to be at least 20 articles that deal with the intersection of race, class, and gender. Now, reframed 20 years later, the culture seems to be obsessed with these questions. I’m hoping architectural culture will become part of that discourse. Ten years ago my students seemed relatively uninterested in questions of gender. Now my students at Yale are actively interested in these topics from a historical perspective, but also from the perspective of their daily lives.

You said something in your recent writings about how the new technologies entering homes and buildings are changing space and are actually tied to a discourse of queer and social relationships, and therefore space and spatial relationships.

At that time I became pretty preoccupied with the subject of bachelor pads. I think the domestic and the interior have always been marginalized. And I became interested in thinking about what some would have considered a contradiction in terms, the idea of masculine domesticity. I explored this interest in bachelor pads and single-sex environments in a chapter of Stud. We were one of the first publications that I know of to look at the phenomena of Playboy and Playboy bachelor pads.

My own theoretical and academic interests began to converge with my fledgling practice where, as a New York architect, I was getting small residential projects. I became interested in a series of bachelor pad projects. One house for a bachelor was included in a show that Terry Riley did at MoMA.

Nowadays, I think we are beyond that problem of the formal issue and we’re actually looking at things like the internet and its impact on architecture. That is an idea that is not really talked about. The convergence of information technology and its impact on architecture overlaps completely with the possibility of queering space, especially domestic space. Certain strategies that were enabled by the computer were limited to the scope of formalism. But they now also have the capacity to question certain norms about domestic space and obliterate the assumptions we have about them.

I certainly agree with you. At that time, that’s how my work and my teaching were absorbing the impact of digital technologies, to, as you say, apply them in a way that responded to cultural questions and performativity. And I think there were other architects who were likewise interested to varying degrees.

You know, it’s an interesting conversation because in my brain I’m seeing the Venn diagram of all of these different converging cultural forces and influences intersecting. And so I would say here, it was a way in which issues of digital technology impacted architecture and enabled new kinds of more complex curvilinear geometries to emerge, which I think had to do also with the interest in the body, in the human body.

So in the second era, I applied some of the insights gleaned from feminist and queer theory and applied them to a broader constituency. I was interested in how one could create flexible, multipurpose spaces that permitted not only gay men, but all of us, to assume multiple roles, both personal and professional.

We did speculative projects, the 24/7 Hotel Room at the Cooper Hewitt, for example. It coincided with the emergence of the boutique hotel. The hotel became the interesting typology. There was an interest in prefabrication, there was an interest in digital technologies. So the idea was to come up with a flexible, multipurpose domestic space that would allow the occupant of that hotel to assume a variety of roles, again from personal to professional. This was very much enabled by new technologies and a trend at that time to transform domestic spaces into multipurpose live-work spaces.

In a way, the typology of the gay bar or the gay club can be read as a prototype of a safe space for these different identities to come together, or to be able to perform in the same space but with different determinations, especially when it comes to the restroom and the moment in which we perform our gender in a more intimate way. Recently, such a space has made the news all over the world for this tragic shooting that happened in a gay club [in Orlando]. It was an attack on people, but also an attack on the idea of this safe space existing. There has been basically nothing said from the architectural community about this shooting.

Well, two things come to mind. The first is this whole question of safety. It is highlighted by the tragedy that occurred in Orlando and also speaks to a much broader disease in America that has to do with the reluctance to do anything about gun control, but that’s a whole other issue.

We live in a world that’s preoccupied by this question of trying to make borders—whether between countries or the border of bathrooms—somehow safe by erecting boundaries and morals at different scales. And it’s really clear that where there’s a will there’s a way, and walls are largely symbolic and can be breached and can never make us safe.

I’ve come back to thinking in a more explicit way about gender and architecture, which was a theme that was much more just percolating as just one of a constellation of issues in the work. I think that has to do with the changes in the culture.

Could you tell me more about your more recent work on the idea of gendered restrooms and trans rights?

My most recent project is a collaboration with Susan Stryker, who is a transgender theorist and historian. And like all of my work, what led me to become interested in this is the convergence of cultural concerns and also architectural commissions.

In the same way I was getting bachelor pads when I was a young architect, we got a commission to do the New York headquarters for a nonprofit group called Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). It’s an important organization that’s about making schools safe for students from K through 12. It was very important to our client to have a gender-neutral bathroom, meaning eradicating the binary and having one consolidated bathroom with “European style” private stalls.

We immediately were met with resistance. We were unable to accomplish that because of the building’s owner and the nature of the building codes in New York. At the same time, shows like Transparent were happening and Vanity Fair had stoked a discourse about Caitlyn Jenner. Unfortunately, what really kind of spurred this project was the series of controversies that have been triggered by giving transgendered people access to public space. So out of that, Susan and I came together to write a piece.

We are now working on a research project called “Stalled.” We are hoping to get the support to come up with an alternative bathroom prototype that would meet not only the needs of the transgender community but would make a space where a diverse range of bodies of different genders, ages, abilities, and disabilities can come together in a safe and inclusive public space.

There is one point I do hope comes across in this interview: Since Stud I’ve always been interested in using queer issues as a lens, or an alternative perspective through which you think through broader cultural issues that affect a larger constituency. We need to use this as a point of departure to talk about a much broader issue of accessible public space for all embodied human subjects. That’s what I think is important.

Both sides—those for and against—frame the question as one of safety. The radical right has overthrown nondiscrimination clauses by scaring people about the idea of predatory men in women’s clothing who are going to harm innocent women and children. We know that statistically that the ones who are really unsafe in bathrooms are transgender people, particularly transgender people of color who are wary of bathrooms because they’re the site of taunting and violence. But I think what we’re trying to argue is that the question needs to be looked at from an architectural perspective and it is not yet.

Architects need to step in and sort of say that there’s an architectural dimension for this and that we need to step up to the plate and be part of the solution. What Susan and I are advocating is that when the architecture of bathrooms is spoken about, it’s about erecting walls and boundaries in a kind of neo-functionalist approach. We think that the answer is a paradigm that’s about maybe more of a kind of agora and that it’s really about mixing people together and eliminating the gender binary, which is very, very problematic. But the idea is to eliminate male and female bathrooms and to create you know, single occupancy spaces. That solution is also the safest. Why? It is like Jane Jacobs’s idea of “eyes on the street” to monitor and police. By consolidating numbers, it would make these places safer as well.

All the books that have been published about this are amazing in terms of bringing the queer theory angle and the feminist angle, but they’re not necessarily linear books of history. They are theory books, of course, but I think there needs to be a complete architecture history and architectural methodology from this different perspective.

I think you’re right, sure. I think the thread that ties my work from Stud to today is human identity as performance going back to Judith Butler, in a way.

I’m interested in trans right now not just because it’s a hot-button, socially urgent issue, but “trans” from a theoretical point of view is really relevant for architecture today. Trans people and genderqueer people are problematizing and calling into question the fixity of identity, architecture, surgery, technology, and pharmaceuticals to redesign who we are. I think it’s people who are refusing to conform to traditional notions of gender expression and are really wanting to reinvent themselves, and using technology in the process, who to me are at the cutting edge and are paradigmatic of what we as architects need to do. That’s what I hope comes out of this work.

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INTERSEX-NESS: Re-Articulating Municipal Bodies

This is the third article in a series of partnerships between AN and Façadomy, a journal that reflects on issues in contemporary identity through the lenses of art and architecture. The first was "Female-ness, Corb, and Contraband;" the second was "Male-ness: Masculinity and Suffocation."

An Intersex individual is someone who describes themselves as Intersex Intersex is a medical term that describes the anatomy/genetics of a body born with a variation between what is traditionally understood as Female and Male. Variations are endlessly diverse and do not always include genitalia. Norwegian sexologist Esben Esther Perelli Benestad uses the term to describe the gender of an individual who identifies as Intersex. In 2016, nearly 25 percent of the world’s population has access to a legal Intersex identification at birth with India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh as major contributors. The remaining 75 percent of the world (including the United States) are only left with the options of Male or Female. Intersex children are often surgically and/or hormonally “corrected”(mutilated) at birth or near puberty to fit within the dominant societal sex/gender categories of Male and Female. Because these measures are taken so early on, Intersex individuals often grow to identify with another gender later in life. In this respect, they become, for instance, Male-to-Intersex (MtI) or Female-to-Intersex (FtI). Pronouns: Et al
The SESC are municipal cultural buildings in Brazil and the SESC Pompeia is perhaps the ultimate.
Within it exists an expanded definition of culture—possessing everything from exhibition spaces to basketball courts. The SESC Pompeia has conversation areas, chess tables, dining areas, a sports building with rock-shaped windows, outdoor areas where you can pretend to be on the beach, a skateboard park and a library. It is a building that changes sex as you walk through it. —Andreas Angelidakis

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Gender-binary restrooms: A social problem with a design solution?

The deeply embedded practice of designing gender-segregated restrooms may feel like the norm to many, but in recent years, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals and the organizations that support them have voiced the everyday discomfort and sense of alienation felt by those who cannot use the restroom of their choice in public spaces. They point out that gender-segregated facilities inherently exclude people who might not conform to stereotypical gender definitions or modes of expression. Moreover, research shows that transgender and gender-nonconforming people of color specifically suffer under this status quo at disproportionately higher rates: both in terms of the health impacts resulting from not using the restroom for long periods of time and by experiencing violence in public restrooms. As this form of inequality gains a wider understanding, architects and designers must decide whether they wish to perpetuate inequality through their designs or advocate for change.

Joel Sanders, professor of architecture at Yale University and editor of Stud: Architectures of Masculinity, said, “Marginalized people want to gain access to these public spaces. One silver lining of culture wars is that they bring attention to important social issues: [Can we] create alternative bathroom design that’s good for people of all body types?”

The bathroom layout is among the first aspects of a building to be considered. The notion of a shared “wet wall” with gender-segregated plumbing facilities located on both sides is seen as a fundamentally efficient arrangement for a variety of building types. This prototypical approach is also perceived as being cheaper to build. But what is typically considered a perfunctory and banal aspect of design, contingent mainly on code-required fixture counts and wheelchair-turning radii, is actually ground zero for the perpetuation of gender-identity discrimination. That’s because this automatically embeds gender segregation into architecture from the onset of a project’s development and furthers what is increasingly being viewed as an unequal and discriminatory cultural mind-set through design.

Gender-segregated restrooms are also in the regulations and codes that guide design. Many municipalities require a minimum number of gendered stalls, but with the exception of a growing handful of cities, few require gender-neutral facilities as a matter of code. Further, municipalities that do make provisions for gender-neutral facilities often simply rebrand separated, single-stall suites like those provided for Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance to double as gender-neutral facilities. The reliance on ADA stalls as a catchall for differently abled and gender-nonconforming individuals is seen by advocates as impractical in terms of the limited occupancy of these facilities as well as discriminatory in its segregation of those who do not conform to prototypical definitions of mobility and gender expression. As stated in a recently published editorial coauthored by Sanders and Susan Stryker in the Los Angeles Times, “Changing the signage on single-stall restrooms is easy, but it doesn’t address the underlying social structures that created unequal bathroom access in the first place.”

The emerging response to this new design problem has been slow to start, mainly with college and high school student-run LGBTQI organizations converting existing facilities to gender-neutral ones by removing placards demarcating binary gender identities. Columbia University and Barnard College in New York City began converting existing, single-occupant restroom facilities in 2013. The University of California system followed suit in 2014 with a similar plan across its ten campuses with 238,000 students.

In April 2016, Santee Education Complex in Los Angeles became the first high school in that city’s 640,000-student school district to open gender-neutral facilities. Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) students launched a school-wide information campaign regarding the need for gender-neutral facilities, convincing administrators to convert an existing 15-stall women’s restroom for use by all students. Jose Lara, faculty sponsor for the GSA, said, “It’s probably the safest place on campus for students because there are always adults around. Students are very accepting of the restroom.”

Coincidentally, designs for wholly new gender-neutral facilities bear much resemblance to those at Santee High School. Authorities on the politics of gendered bathroom design like Sanders and Stryker agree that multistall, gender-neutral facilities are the future of nongendered restroom design and even have the potential to be safer than traditional bathroom configurations. These configurations are already common in certain European countries, as well as many high-end establishments. Designs vary, but these restrooms typically feature a collection of individual, lockable water closets accessible from an atrium containing shared washbasins, allowing a steady and diverse flow of people to come into and out of restroom facilities. These designs, however, are exceptions in an otherwise gender-segregated architectural culture and will not become part of a wider societal change unless building codes change in toe with social mores.

According to advocates, these designs, if widely adopted as part of a new set of building codes and regulations, could herald a new era of gender equality in architecture.

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Male-ness: Masculinity and Suffocation

This is the second in a series of partnerships between AN and Façadomy, a contemporary journal that reflects on issues in contemporary identity through the lenses of art and architecture. The first was "Female-ness, Corb, and Contraband"; Façadomy is also now crowdfunding the full edition of it's first issue, Gender Talents.

Gender Talents begins with the work of Grimstad, Norway–based sexologist and Transgender icon Esben Esther. P. Benestad who has observed seven unique genders in their work as a doctor and therapist in Scandinavia. The issue is composed of reflections on these categories by Andreas Angelidakis, Kimberly R. Drew (@museummammy) and Juliana Huxtable.
A selection from the second of these 7 genders follows below: Male (as defined by Façadomy)
Masculinity can be reified by machismo, but this is not essential to maleness. A Male is an individual who describes himself as Male and can be considered one of the gender majorities. Maleness derives its conventions from characteristics attached to those who are chromosomally XY: sperm production, Male sex organs, deepened voice after puberty, a higher ratio of muscle mass to body fat than Females. When an XY individual with the conventional characteristics of a Male also perceives himself as Male, this individual is understood as a “Cis-Male.” Males may have another chromosomal constellation or may not possess any of the traditional characteristics listed above. The WWII bunkers on the coast of Normandy are muscular concrete protection devices, slowly sinking into the sand for the past 70 years.
Paul Virilio photographed these structures for his seminal book Bunker Archaeology. Most gay guys who are really fit seem to be total bottoms, and one could arbitrarily assume that their somatic condition is a coat of armor, a protection of a fragile masculinity. They really want to be men, so maybe that could be a good fit for the Male phenomenon. I like these bunkers because they spend their life sitting alone on a beach, waiting. — Andreas Angelidakis ____________________ ____________________ Ornamented and suffocated by the veil of privilege, maleness exists as an identity that is performed in a trial by fire. What’s at the core of performing maleness? How can we take inventory over masculinity? What has your dick (proverbial, actual, or acquired) done to oppress the other? — Kimberly R. Drew
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A crowdfunding campaign for a magazine that explores identity through art, architecture, and social science

Can a penis be relieved of its supposed maleness—mere flesh in a psychic void? Façadomy is a new publication that explores themes in contemporary identity through the lenses of art, architecture, and social science. It's inaugural issue, Gender Talents, is currently in the midst of a crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter. Gender Talents explores the landscape of self-determined gender. It builds off the work of progressive sexologist Esben Esther P. Benestad, who has observed seven distinct genders in their practice as a therapist in Norway. Three prominent voices in contemporary art and architecture reflect on these seven themes, intersecting gender with notions of performativity, race, sexuality, and the built environment. Andreas Angelidakis, an architect and curator based in Athens, imagines each gender through avatars which take the unlikely form of buildings and esoteric furniture. These examples from the built environment weave human-scale metaphors that draw parallels between contemporary ruins and the sinking regimes of traditional masculine/feminine dynamics. Supporting this campaign funds the mass production of Gender Talents and helps to proliferate a deeper understanding of gender in the 21st century. Knowledge is the only weapon we have against the adversity and violence that people outside of the gender majorities face on a daily basis. This reality only worsens when it's compounded by sexuality, class and race Slogans and buzzwords are an important part of activism, but can only serve as the gateway to rich political ideas that warrant further consideration from curious minds.
(Those interested can read Female-ness, Corb, and Contraband, a previous Façadomy post featuring text by Andreas Angelidakis and others.)