On behalf of the Board of Directors of both AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture and Design, we jointly issue the following statement:
WE ARE OUTRAGED! We are outraged by the blatant murder of George Floyd and so many others before him. We are outraged that countless filmed murders of black people by the police over the past several years was not enough to move our country to action and commitment to lasting change and healing. Mostly, we are outraged for the black people in our communities- our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends – that are once again pushing through such unbelievable trauma, pain and grief; all while being asked to be professional, educate their friends and colleagues, and simultaneously defend the protests and related destruction and civil unrest throughout the city.

We write this statement for several reasons. First and foremost, to rebuke the senseless and inhumane violence of police brutality against black and brown people. As a profession, our ”thundering silence” can no longer be tolerated. Our responsibility is to preserve the health, safety, and welfare for the greater public, which we have ignored for years as it relates to basic human rights. When architects take their oath to uphold these principles, we expect that they contribute to responsive solutions. The AIA Code of Ethics has several provisions that REQUIRES that AIA members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors. As designers, you will be called to participate in helping to mend the broken parts of the built environment across our City. You should use this opportunity to research and understand how to put people first, before the buildings and public spaces. Think about how our built environment has perpetuated inequality and heightened division and tension between police and the community. For every injustice in this world, there is an architecture that has allowed it to perpetuate. Our profession must take steps to be more accountable for our impact.

Acknowledge that your black colleagues and friends are not okay, nor have they ever been as they’ve dealt with systemic and institutional racism time and time again. The past several months have been difficult and anxiety-producing for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic and the harrowing impact from local tensions this week. However the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the black community; the reports of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd’s murders ; the public condemnation and co-option of non-violent protests; and the destruction of the urban fabric in many Philadelphia neighborhoods is overwhelmingly traumatic and devastating for communities of color. Respect this difficulty for your black friends, employees, and colleagues and provide space and empathy – without requiring them to mentor on cultural competence. There are terrific resources to educate on the effects of racial injustice and inequity. We recommend you reference the  AIA Guides to Equitable Practice  to increase your awareness about the issues within our profession. 

At this moment, we feel it is important to elevate the voices and respond to the leadership of our colleagues of color. We encourage every member and allied professional to read and take to heart the  public statement issued by the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)  earlier this week. Both organizations support NOMA’s new mission statement, and will reflect on our own mission and programs to incorporate the call to action NOMA has asked of us all- striving to be more B.R.A.V.E. We thank the NOMA Board and its president, Kimberly Dowdell, for their leadership in this difficult time. 

Both organizations need to be accountable for what we have not done to serve our local communities, to increase diversity in the profession, and to improve the experience for black and brown people in our Philadelphia architecture schools, professional practices, and communities. WE COMMIT TO DO BETTER.  WE COMMIT TO EDUCATING OURSELVES AND OUR MEMBERSHIP. WE COMMIT TO CALLING OUT RACISM AND DISMANTLING PRIVILEGE IN OUR PROFESSION. WE COMMIT TO USE OUR PLATFORM AND SKILLS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN PHILADELPHIA COMMUNITIES.

AIA Philadelphia Board of Directors +
Center for Architecture and Design Board of Directors

AIA Philadelphia | 215-569-3186
1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107