The murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor are our most recent reminders that we live in a society built on white privilege that has created systems of inequity in education, housing, health, property ownership, mobility access, the criminal justice system, and more. As architects, planners, and designers, we understand that we have the responsibility, and the ability, to create more equitable and just cities through our work. Our professions have a long history of reinforcing structural racism in planning policies, public housing design, and infrastructure access. We are dedicated to the work to make transformational change in our profession and in our practice.
Architecture and planning are long-term efforts with long-term commitments. So, too, is demolishing white primacy and building up an anti-racist society. We must be humble enough to admit where we have fallen short, wise enough to be guided by those whose experiences we have never shared, and committed to long term structural change as individuals, a firm, and a profession.
An architecture practice dedicated to structural change must advocate for and support equity within the profession, and we must ensure equity in our practice. A more diverse profession of architecture creates pathways to success for students of all races, creeds, and socio-economic backgrounds. This is a vital and necessary step towards ensuring that our profession truly reflects the mosaic of the communities in which we serve.
Towards an equitable and just profession, we commit to these first steps:
- Continued support of the ACE mentorship program – an architecture, construction, and engineering program for high school students – by providing staff the time to serve as mentors and board members and by making financial contributions.
- Continued support and growth of the United in Design scholarship program – an academic scholarship and summer internship opportunity for underrepresented, minority, and LGBTQ+ university students.
Towards an equitable and just practice, we commit to these first steps:
As a practice, it would not be enough to attach the flag of “equity” to our mission without also demonstrating the commitment to sustained action that this goal requires.
- Becoming a JUST organization, for transparency on diversity, equity, and inclusion within our office.
- Engaging in more participatory planning processes with the communities in which we design. We reference the framework outlined inThe City of Providence’s Recommendations for a Racially Equitable and Just Providence (2017) as a guide for co-creating places with frontline communities of color.
- Understanding that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect communities of color – both locally and globally – that we must devote our resources to these communities to ensure healthier and safer places to live and prosper and ensure that all work we do carries a mandate for reduced energy use to decrease the risk of extreme climate change scenarios globally.
- Above all else, listening and educating ourselves because there is much more that we have to learn and many voices we have yet to hear.
We move forward in action with the words of Darnell L. Moore as a guide:
“The current movement for black lives is a perfect backdrop for a conversation on reimagined cities that needs to move from the halls of think tanks and municipal development offices to the streets and neighborhoods where all manner of black people dwell. Imagine dialogues on neighborhood development and urban design occurring among protest participants. Imagine planned public talks hosted on neighbors’ stoops or in the foyers of housing projects. Imagine democratized approaches to urban planning that begin with the people, not the corporate class. Imagine the embedding of urban planners within movement collectives combatting anti-black racism and state-sanctioned violence from Ferguson to Flatbush. That type of work is characteristic of the critical first steps needed to inform the creation of the “just” city.”
(Moore in Griffin, Cohen, Maddox, 2015)
Griffin, T., Cohen, A., Maddox, D. (2015) The Just City Essays: 26 Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity, Volume 1, New York: J Max Bond Center on Design [online] Available from: https://www.designforthejustcity.org/read (Accessed 14 June 2020).
This post was originally published to our website on June 19, 2020 and reformatted to fit the new webpage. No content was changed.