Why Fairness Matters | Architect’s Review

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photo: Tudor Apmadoc / Getty Images, art direction by Michael Collett, typography by Vocal Type
The October 2021 issue of ARCHITECT was edited in partnership with the National Organization of Minority Architects to showcase the accomplishments of the large and diverse design community. But it also serves as a call to action for practitioners to address the inequalities that continue to plague architecture.

Architecture has a problem of representation. Of the approximately 122,000 architects in the United States and its territories, 24% are women, 4% identify as Hispanic or Latino and 2% identify as black, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. According to the Directory of African American Architects, only 0.4% of licensed professionals (532 at time of publication) identify as black women.

For 50 years, the National Organization of Minority Architects has been an advocate and leader for creating fair, equitable, diverse and inclusive outcomes in the built environment. In 1971, 12 African-American architects from across the country met, some for the first time, at the AIA National Convention in Detroit. These professionals recognized the urgent need for an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of color designers, and black architects in particular. This meeting laid the foundation and the vision for what would become NOMA.

Today, with nearly 3,000 members and 117 professional and student sections, the nonprofit continues to advocate for diversity in design through education, professional development, advocacy and advocacy. activism. And others in the profession are joining us.

The American Institute of Architects has taken steps to advance fairness both within the profession as a whole and internally, by reviewing its own operations, policies, initiatives, etc. In 2009, AIA and NOMA signed their first Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in efforts to increase the diversity of the profession. The memorandum of understanding, which has been renewed several times since, remains in effect.

We have seen progress, starting with the widespread, albeit belated, recognition of systemic racism and discrimination by the design community. But we can do it faster and better together.

Aerial view looking northwest, Power to the People mural by artist Hubert Massey on Woodward Avenue in Detroit
Wirestock
Aerial view looking north-west, Power to the people mural by artist Hubert Massey on Woodward Avenue in Detroit
Student artists from Detroit Heals Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools Community District paint the Power to the People mural on Woodward Avenue, Detroit.
Jim west
Student artists from Detroit Heals Detroit and Detroit Public Schools Community District paint the Power to the people mural on Woodward Avenue, Detroit.

An abridged version of this introduction opens the October 2021 issue of ARCHITECT. The number of architects and the number of black female architects have been updated here.


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