Architects Reject AIA’s Call to “Work With” Trump

Architects around the country are speaking out against the American Institute of Architects after the professional organization made a post-election statement pledging to work with Trump and support his infrastructure agenda.

Architecture professionals have been responding with the hashtag #notmyAIA, as you can see above.

Trump has spoken of spending $1 trillion on infrastructure, and the Architect’s Newspaper reports that AIA CEO Robert Ivy has come under fire for saying the organization’s 89,000 members “are committed to working with President-Elect Trump… particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure.”

The editors of the Architect’s Newspaper write that the AIA effectively abandoned some if its stated principles, like promoting diversity and environmental sustainability, at the promise of a paycheck:

Though Trump’s campaign was relatively anemic in terms of specific, actionable policy proposals and objectives, a clear plank of the Republican candidate’s message was, Ivy correctly states, related to infrastructure, namely, the erection of a border wall separating Mexico from the United States. Very little mention was ever made by Trump, his surrogates, or his supporters for the “investments in schools, hospitals, and other public infrastructure” that Ivy cites. That line of reasoning is purely hallucinogenic and wishful thinking on the part of the AIA CEO, and an irresponsible act of complicity from someone tasked to lead a diverse, inclusive, and progressive professional organization.

It is anathema to this editorial board to fathom the positive impact of such a work of infrastructure as the proposed border wall or its attendant detention centers, federal and private prisons, and militarized infrastructure that would be necessary in order to achieve the President-Elect’s stated deportation policy goals. To ignore the role design and designers could play in instituting and perpetuating the inequality inherent in the racist patriarchy Trump’s ideology embodies is irresponsible and reprehensible.

Furthermore, the memo’s imprecise language, uncritical stance, and congratulatory tone not only willfully misunderstand the stated policy objectives of the President-Elect, but in committing such a lapse in judgement, submit the 89,000-member profession to the willful service of the destructive goals stated above. All the while, it condones the violence and oppression due to be inflicted upon the communities singled out by Trump’s rhetoric—which will likely impact the AIA’s own membership as well.

The AIA’s struggles with diversity and inclusion are well-known: While the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) reported 105,847 registered architects in 2015, the Directory of African American Architects counts only 2,084 self-reported African American members. That being said, recent years have indeed seen an increase in diversity within the profession. Demographic reports from 2015 show the highest proportion of women and people of color completing licensure requirements ever, with nearly 40-percent of newly-registered architects belonging to these groups.

Simply put, Ivy’s memo does not speak for these professionals.

In response to the backlash, Ivy penned another statement directly to Architect’s Newspaper, which was also panned as dismissive.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Political Environment looks at Trump’s transition choice for the EPA, a prominent climate science denier. Bike Portland says the stakes have never been higher for the National Bike Summit, coming up in two months in Washington, D.C. And Better Burque considers some of the data about why pedestrian deaths keep rising.

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