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June 10, 2020
by AIA New York

Architects around the country have come out with public messages of support and solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a service to our members and the architecture community at large, we’ve rounded up a selection of statements from NYC architects and our peer institutions.

INSTITUTIONAL PEERS

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

As the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), we are calling on our members and our broader professional community to condemn racism and take an active role in eliminating the racial biases that account for a myriad of social, economic, and health disparities, and most importantly, result in the loss of human lives – Black lives. As architects, we are professionally responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. The tragic execution of Black Americans at the hands of people infected by racism has plagued our nation for generations.

AIA National

“More than half a century has passed since Dr. Whitney M. Young, Jr. observed that “Decent people have to learn to speak up, and you shouldn’t have to be the victim to feel for other people.” We can’t change the past, but we can, and do, promise to harness the passion of our members and the broader design community to help lead efforts to dismantle the system of racial injustice that continues to end far too many lives and dim far too many futures.”

Docomomo US

“As a very first, humble step, Docomomo US will focus on updating and highlighting our online register to better feature and recognize the important work and contributions of African American and minority modernist architects and designers to our culture, our cities, and our architectural heritage.”

 

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A post shared by @docomomous on Jun 4, 2020 at 10:31am PDT

The Architectural League of New York

“Every system, every institution in American society, including the discipline of architecture, is implicated. The built environment—our public, private, and civic spaces, and the ways we design, construct, and inhabit them—reifies lopsided power relationships, economic inequality, and thwarted opportunity. Through inadequately examined design, planning, and land-use decisions; through the negligent or malevolent location of infrastructure, “renewal,” and noxious uses in poor and minority neighborhoods; through embodying and failing to challenge the aggrandizement of Whiteness and the depreciation of Blackness and all other cultures in aesthetic, technological, and historical norms and values; through our inadequate commitment to helping provide the human right of adequate shelter and other basic needs, we perpetuate the status quo and the unjust world it has created.”

The Architecture Lobby

“As an organization committed to social justice, we recognize that statements are not substitutes for action; they are not substitutes for difficult conversations; they do not replace internal examinations; they do not serve to gloss over the whiteness of our own organization and profession. We recognize that police violence, exploitation, and racism stem from a capitalist core. We recognize the complicity of our profession’s long-standing culture of inaction and silence. We recognize that racism and capitalism are conjoined, and that the cultures of colonization and exploitation that define their histories are embedded and reinforced by the built environment.”

Municipal Art Society of New York

“New York is home to one of America’s most segregated public school systems. Our housing stock is the fourth-most segregated in the country. And the pandemic has laid bare the profound inequality of the city’s health care resources, with black and Hispanic New Yorkers dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites and Asians. From open space to clean air to financial services, communities of color have been at best underserved and at worst willfully neglected.”

Wendy Miller, FASLA, President, ASLA

“We are all horrified by the events that unfolded over the last several days. I am personally roiling with emotions, watching in real-time the injustices and inequitable treatment of people and communities who are in anguish because of centuries of racial discrimination. As landscape architects, we work to ensure that all persons have the right to equitable access to environmental and community benefits in the places they live, work, and learn. Now is the time for us to work to help ensure that these communities have fair and equitable treatment in all aspects of life.”

Storefront for Art and Architecture

“While our founding mission emphasized civic dialogue and activism in art and architecture, we know that there isinherent privilege embedded in whose voices are heard. Today, we recommit to elevating the crucial narratives of those who are hurting most, in both words and action.”

Van Alen Institute

“While good design is rooted in idealism and empathy, the design field can reflect and perpetuate our country’s deep inequities. We lift up this statement from NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects): “As architects, how can we protect the health, safety and welfare of the public if our country is not properly including Black Americans as full members of our society?” As an architecture-centric organization, we commit to asking ourselves this every day and pursuing work grounded in radical listening and in service of healing solutions.”

ARCHITECTUS AND DESIGNERS

Arup

“Our commitment to inclusion and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, demands that we create and contribute to equitable spaces and systems. It quite clearly demands that we stand against racism. ⁣Our actions, individually and collectively, make a difference. As leaders across the built environment, it is our shared responsibility to bring about meaningful change for good through the projects we do and the people we choose to work with.”

Architecture Research Office

“We strive to make ARO a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive studio. We actively reaffirm supporting our own employees’ call to be participatory citizens and will dedicate more time to service-oriented engagement, understanding that change takes time and effort. We must work harder to transform our own profession and support our Black and Brown colleagues to ensure a more just built environment that is indeed meant for all.”

Gensler

“What can we do? What is our role? How can we make a difference? This is our challenge and this is the conversation that we will be having in the days, weeks, and months ahead.”

Grimshaw

We feel and see the immense grief, anger and pain that are the result of long-standing racism. We stand with those of you saying enough is enough, but we know that actions speak louder than words and we recognize that we can do more. We are committed to listening, learning, supporting, and advocating. Black Lives Matter.

Perkins Eastman

“We are deeply saddened by the stark racial injustices we have witnessed over the past few weeks. As architects and designers, we are responsible for creating healthy, inspiring, and above all else, safe environments. While architecture and design alone cannot heal the deeply rooted pain caused by generations of inequality, each of us can do our part to ease that pain. By advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equality in our communities and in our profession, we can create #abetterfuture”

Perkins and Will

“Starting immediately, we are doubling down on our commitment to make a positive difference. We pledge to increase our: * Mentorship and teaching roles at historically Black colleges and universities * Support for scholarships and internships at historically Black design schools, and for Black design students at other schools * Recruitment of Black design staff and our total number of Black professionals at the firm * Promotions of Black staff to leadership positions of Associate Principal and Principal * Financial contributions to the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) * Pro bono design services and hands-on contributions to underserved Black communities. And this is just a start. We look forward to sharing our progress as we go.”

 

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A post shared by Perkins Eastman New York (@perkinseastman.newyork) on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:52pm PDT

 

Sekou Cooke
Assistant Professor, Syracuse University School of Architecture; Curator, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip Hop Architecture

“What remains universally disconnected about every other statement that I’ve read, however, is the presupposition that the design community serves or supports the Black community—as if, by default, they have always been and will always be two separate entities. The idea that Black and designer, or Black and architect, can be one and the same is absent from the language used by many of these leaders of architectural education. Any wokeness embedded in public messaging from the profession at large is undermined by its presumed Whiteness.”

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

“As architects, designers, and engineers—as human beings—we stand with our Black Colleagues, the Black Community and all People of Color in the fight for justice and equality. Racism has no place in our culture, and we unequivocally condemn it in all forms. The fabric of our society, the founding promise that all humans are created equal, needs to be restored and it is our responsibility to raise our voices and be part of the solution.”

WXY

“At WXY, we are outraged and anguished by the extra-judicial murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others at the hands of police across the nation. In parallel, the COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on Black and Latinx communities. More have had to put their bodies at risk as essential workers, more are losing their jobs, and more are dying as a result of the virus. All are symptoms of the structural and systemic racism that permeates every fiber of this country, further illuminating a glaring legacy of injustice and anti-Blackness that has yet to be addressed.”

 

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A post shared by WXY architecture+urban design (@wxystudio) on Jun 2, 2020 at 8:11am PDT

ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS

Amale Andraos, Dean, Columbia GSAPP

“We must ask ourselves: Have we done enough to undo the systemic racism that is at the foundation of our disciplines and practices? Have we done enough to register the biases we all carry? While we have strived to be better and to do better, we must persist and be resolute in doing more.”

Meejin Yoon, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cornell AAP

“This year alone has shown us that the urgency is now. What we need next are real conversations about race and racism in our spaces and systems, about public health and access, and about fundamental shifts in thought that are carried over into a series of tangible, meaningful actions that shape tomorrow today.”

Lesley Lokko, Dean, The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York

“This has been a terrible, tragic week for America. I will ask you in advance to forgive the observations of an outsider and newcomer, on the one hand, and the dean of this institution who is black, on the other. This rare duality makes for an uneasy balance. I’m speaking to you today publicly, not privately, but the duality of being a black leader in a moment like this means I cannot adhere to the usual professional and polite separation of private/public.”

Dwight A. McBride, President, Parsons School of Design

“We must draw on our academic mission and our institutional values to make meaningful change—to unpack hierarchy, privilege, policies, and systems that benefit certain communities and disadvantage and harm other communities, including the social, economic, and political stratification that is racism.”

 

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A post shared by Parsons School of Design (@parsonsschoolofdesign) on Jun 1, 2020 at 2:21pm PDT

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