On November 9, Robert Ivy, AIA chief executive officer, issued an announcement stating that the AIA is “committed to working with president-elect Trump.” Donald Trump, who has admitted to “legally” underpaying architects, promoted bigotry, xenophobia and the belief that climate change is a hoax, has continually undermined commitments to diversity and inclusion. The statement issued by the AIA represents a cynical public relations ploy and further diminishes the push towards a truly inclusive profession.
Architecture Lobby can be a leading organization in getting architectural institutions to declare their values and we can then keep them accountable and be the conduit to convert silent indignation into action.
The Architecture Lobby Statement on the AIA Response to Trump’s Election
In response to this statement from the AIA, the Architecture Lobby has issued our own statement:
Today the AIA, claiming to speak for its 89,000 members, backtracked on years of blustering about diversity, inclusion, and equity with an unqualified statement that they would work with a Donald Trump administration. In its website the AIA even includes the proposed border wall as an issue that could benefit architects.
To us, this proves beyond a doubt that the AIA’s supposed commitment to diversity and inclusion is not at all about equity, but rather a cynical public relations ploy. The AIA’s rhetoric has always emphasized the importance of women and people of color to the architectural profession, but only as a product of their economic utility. Now that the business proposition has changed, disenfranchised communities are left in the cold. We believe it is possible to push architecture towards a truly inclusive profession, one with organizations that can stand up for the needs of all its members on the basis of their humanity and not their value proposition. We also believe that, through this statement, the AIA has shown that it is structurally incapable of being the organization to carry out such a vision.
In addition, the lack of attention to Trump’s environmental policies – he plans to repeal all environmental agreements and thinks global warming is a hoax – endangers the very cities that we not only live in but are sworn to protect. The sea-level rise and storm surge threats that so many architects have spent the last ten years addressing clearly mean nothing to the agency meant to advocate for our future. In lieu of taking egregious advantage of the symptomsof our national problems – the election of Trump – we as architects can use this moment to reflect on our role in constructing the elite vs. everyman dichotomy that has divided us. In lieu of presenting and thinking of ourselves as part of the elite, we can show that we, too, are workers of precarity and concern; that we, like all workers, can and must fight the 1% and all others who threaten human rights and the rights of nature.
Only a bottom up approach built on the principles of radical democracy, economic justice, and quality of life for all can achieve that vision and advocate for the needs of architecture workers and the public we serve. Since our founding we have been working with our members, friends, and allies on projects that challenge the status quo. We’ve also been busy putting in place the infrastructure to build an alternative professional organization that embodies these values. We will continue doing all of these things. We are still small, but we are serious about fighting for big changes alongside other like-minded organizations. What the Lobby becomes will only be what we collectively make of it.
In the meantime, we unequivocally denounce the AIA’s statement and encourage architects to demand their local chapter of the AIA do the same. Those interested in defecting from the AIA can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @archlobby for information regarding their local Architecture Lobby chapter. The fight against a collaborationist architecture has just started, and as a Lobby member or not, we hope to see you there.
The Members of the Architecture Lobby
Update 11/12/16: Apology #1
Robert Ivy issues a response to Architect’s Newspaper editorial:
To: Editorial staff at The Architect’s Newspaper
We recognize that the current, post-election environment is unique and has aroused strong and heartfelt feelings within all communities, including that of AIA membership. In this context, our recent statement in support of design and construction’s future role with the new Administration has been viewed with concern by a number of our colleagues.
The AIA, a bi-partisan organization with strong values, reasserts our commitment to a fair and just society, and also respects the right of each member to his or her political beliefs, knowing that we are all united in our desire to contribute to the well-being and success of our nation and our world.
The AIA remains firmly committed to advocating for the values and principles that will create a more sustainable, inclusive and humane world. The spirit and intention behind our statement is consistent with and in support of President Obama’s eloquent call for us all to unite for the best interest of America’s future.
AIA Executive Vice President / CEO, Robert Ivy, FAIA and AIA President, Russ Davidson, FAIA
Update 11/15/16: Apology #2
Update 10/17/16: Apology #3