AIANY 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA
AIANY 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA

Ethics and the Road to Convention: Durban and Chicago

From the Desk of the President by • 04/30

As we prepare for the next meeting of the International Union of Architects (UIA) in Durban, South Africa, this August, we are confronted with a proposal that demands we take an immediate position. Reporter Harriet Sherwood wrote about the proposal on 03.20.14 in London’s The Guardian. Since the matter surfaced, there have been endless articles, e-mails, and calls. While some think it may all blow over, we cannot allow it to be floated without immediate objection.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) plans to bring a proposal to the floor of the upcoming 2014 bi-annual meeting of the UIA. The RIBA has demanded the suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the UIA, saying it is complicit in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and other violations of international law. While former RIBA President Angela Brady told a meeting of its council how important the proposal was, other council members pointed to human rights violations in other parts of the world, such as North Korea, which is a member of the UIA, asking why they should not be held to similar standards. Notable architects and members of AIANY have spoken out or written against the RIBA proposal, including Richard Meier, FAIA, and Daniel Libeskind, AIA.

AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, and I drafted a letter denouncing the RIBA proposal. The grounds upon which our draft was based centered on inclusion and dialogue, as opposed to exclusion and highly prejudicial, selective condemnation. The letter was put before the AIANY Board at its last meeting on 04.22.14. While certain details and some personalization were criticized, the general sense of the letter was approved. All thought it inappropriate for the RIBA to exclude an entire country’s architects – both Israeli and Palestinian – because the RIBA takes issue with the politics of that country. As the mission statement of the UIA is “to unite the architects of the world without any form of discrimination,” it should be obvious that excluding one country’s architects defeats the purpose.

A final draft of the letter was circulated to the Board and approved for forwarding to the RIBA. In addition, I will be writing a personal letter to the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects categorically objecting to the RIBA proposal. If you would like to write a letter as well, please address to: Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD, United Kingdom.

On another front, AIANY’s president, executive director, Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ), Executive, and Policy Committees, and the entire AIANY Board wrestled with the ethical issues related to the architect’s role in the design of facilities for incarceration. This was in response to the Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) request for an amendment to the AIA Code of Ethics prohibiting the design of spaces used for solitary confinement and capital punishment. The ADPSR wants this change to be brought to the floor at the AIA 2014 Convention in Chicago. Serious business to be taken seriously. Dialogue and discussion went on for a year before an opinion was rendered.

The AAJ commentary, with which the Board agreed, included: “Solitary confinement is a practice; it is not a specific type of space to be designed. To insert a specific prohibition in the Code of Ethics, as opposed to providing practitioners with evidence-based guidelines, is a misuse of the Code. The question of capital punishment, however abhorrent it may be to those among us, fits along a continuum of controversial practices, like abortion and assisted suicide, for which there is a lack of consensus within our society. The cultural discussion about such issues is far from settled, with no clear consensus within sight. For the AIA to take an ethical stance, forbidding its members to design facilities that are otherwise legal, and in this case, facilities for governmental activities, risks alienating membership in support of an advocacy position. These issues of design relative to solitary confinement and capital punishment are advocacy issues, not ethical ones.”

The statement concluded: “The AIA, through the AAJ, should support the development of a document that defines Best Practices for Corrections Planning and Design in order to promote evidence-based approaches to correctional design and operations. The AAJ is the AIA’s Knowledge Community with expert members capable of such an initiative. Its recent white paper, ‘Sustainable Justice: Green Guide to Justice,’ is an example of results from such an initiative. It promotes systems, scale, and sustainable approaches to correctional facilities that are Smaller, Kinder and Greener, with greater opportunities for successful outcomes for staff, inmates, and communities. A similar approach involving best practices for corrections planning and design is a more effective way of inducing change and addressing advocacy rather than banning AIA members from designing specific space types. AAJ NY plans to bring a proposal to AAJ National at the 2014 AIA convention for a sub-committee to develop Best Practice Guidelines: Design for Humane, Effective Segregation.”

It was proposed and agreed that the AIA New York Chapter should promote dialogues that address the serious issues of ethics and architecture, and that plans for such discussions should be developed for the near future.

Comments are closed.

Share Your Thoughts On Architectural Education Editor's Note
Michael Sorkin, Principal, Michael Sorkin Studio, with Michael Murphy, Co-founder and Executive Director, MASS Design Group
Infrastructure, Politics, and the Dilemma of Donald Trump At the Center for Architecture
Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks outside Trump Tower.
Policy Pulse: New York Elected Officials Weigh in on Trump Administration Policy Pulse
New York City's Roadmap to 80x50
Roadmap to 80×50 At the Center for Architecture
Sponsors and organizers of the 2016 Ratensky Lecture with Rosanne Haggerty. (l-r) Peter Bafitis, AIA; Jennifer Sage, FAIA; Gary Solomon; Rosanne Haggerty; Theodore Liebman, FAIA; and Fernando Villa, AIA.
2016 Samuel Ratensky Lecture: Rosanne Haggerty At the Center for Architecture
LA Gensler office, sample rendering from within the Gensler VR app.
Brave New Worlds: The Impacts of Virtual Reality on Design At the Center for Architecture
The Creative Architect: Inside the great midcentury personality study by Pierluigi Serraino, AIA
Oculus Quick-Take: The Creative Architect: Inside the great midcentury personality study Podcast
1 - Memorial Honors Victims of the AIDS Epidemic
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
01.27.17: Call for Entries: AIANY 2017 Design Awards
New Deadlines New Deadlines
“Authenticity and Innovation,”
through 01.14.17.
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
Message from the Executive Director: 2016 Elections From the Executive Director
We thank Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, for her dedication and support of AIANY and the Center for Architecture.
Oculus Evolving Center News
Office of the City Clerk
Lobby Law Update Policy Pulse
E.R. Butler & Co, on view in "Authenticity and Innovation."
Center Mentions Center News
Congratulations to our 2016 Heritage Ball honorees! The Rudin Family, Alice Tisch, and Thomas Phifer, FAIA (not shown: Senator Charles E. Schumer).
Design Matters: 2016 Heritage Ball Reports from the Field
Juror Favorite: "Lean on Me" by Dattner Architects
Canstruction NYC Reports from the Field
SITU Studio won the Pritzkerpumpkin for their concrete pumpkin void.
The Most Gourdgeous of the Gourds: Pumpkitecture! At the Center for Architecture
Speakers and organizers of "Global Migration, Refugees, and a Role for Design."
Antidotes to Xenophobia: Win/win Design Ideas for the Displaced At the Center for Architecture
A representative from the Northeastern School of Architecture + Art speaks to a prospective student and his father.
2016 Architecture and Design College Fair Learning by Design
Eric J. Pick, AIA, 1922-2016
Eric J. Pick, AIA, Retired Partner, Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde (1922-2016) In Memoriam
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
“Reading Room: A Catalog of New York City’s Branch Libraries,” through 01.07.16
On View On View
10.25.16: In conjunction with the Center for Architecture’s exhibition, “Authenticity and Innovation,” Architectural Record Editor-in-Chief Cathleen McGuigan moderated a discussion on the inherent value of older buildings with Claire Weisz, FAIA, Principal-in-Charge, WXY architecture + urban design; Constantine Kontakosa, Professor of Urban Informatics and Deputy Director of the Quantified Research Facility, NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress and Tandon School of Engineering; and Charles Bendit, Co-chief Executive Officer, Taconic Investment Group.
Sighted Sighted
Classifieds Classifieds
Payette: George Washington Milken Institute of Public Health, Washington, DC
Announcing the Winners of the 2016 AIANY COTE Awards Names in the News
Courtesy of Elizabeth Felicella
5 Questions for Photographer Elizabeth Felicella On View
New York City Council expands reach of the Green, Greater Buildings Plan.
City Expands Building Energy Plan Policy Pulse
Arthur Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture: David Chipperfield
David Chipperfield’s Arthur Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture At the Center for Architecture
Suzanne Stephens, Hon. AIANY, Deputy Editor, Architectural Record in conversation with Pierluigi Serraino, AIA, architect, author, and educator
Oculus Book Review: The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study by Pierluigi Serraino Book Reviews
The girls took turns presenting their own design work to the group at the end of the program.
Women in Architecture Committee Reaches Out to the Next Generation Uncategorized
FIGMENT: What Is This? Why Is Nothing for Sale? Why Is Everyone Smiling? by David Koren.
Oculus Quick-Take: FIGMENT: What is this? Why is Nothing for Sale? Why is Everyone Smiling? Podcast
Courtesy of Dezeen Jobs
Save 50% on Your Next Dezeen Jobs Advert Of Interest
1 - New Academic Buildings are Changing the Face of Manhattanville
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
"Authenticity and Innovation," through 01.14.16
On View On View
10.18.16: Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief of Dwell; Julio Salcedo, Chair of the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York; Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Jaklitsch|Gardner; Valerie Kennedy, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Innovation and Strategy at the NYC Economic Development Corporation; Jack Travis, FAIA, Principal, Jack Travis, FAIA, Architect; and Tonja Adair, AIA, Principal, Splice Design, convened at the Center for Architecture to discuss why diversity in design continues to pose a challenge.
Sighted Sighted
Classifieds Classifieds
Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director, AIANY and Center for Architecture
Archtober Itinerary Word of Mouth
STUDIOS Architecture's winning cake: Zaha Hadid's Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan.
High-Calorie High Rises: The Great Architectural Bake-Off Reports from the Field
The AIANYS board enjoys an architect-led tour of the Algonquin Building, originally designed by S. Gifford Slocum, during the 2016 AIA New York State Saratoga Design Conference.
In Architecture, Collaboration is Key Reports from the Field
Bruce Fowle, FAIA, LEED AP, accepts the 2016 AIANYS President's Award.
AIA New York State President’s Award: Green is Beautiful Word of Mouth
AIA Presidential Profiles.
AIA Presidential Candidate Profiles Policy Pulse
1 - A New Museum Has Got Lady Liberty’s Back
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines