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Laura Switzer
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Field of [equitable] Dreams

As the saying goes, “if you build it, they will come.” But are we building to attract a diverse pool of future professionals and addressing the needs of various end users? Lately the AIA has been publicizing the need for more equity in the practice of architecture. They advocate not only for more equity in the designing of spaces to reflect the growing diversity of communities, but also to recruit into the field of architecture.

The AIA encourages everyone to play a role in providing an “an equitable profession for all without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or socioeconomic background.”

The AIA has a growing body of research with its Equity by Design surveys which have been conducted over the last five years. The survey grew out of an effort in 2011 by the AIA San Francisco chapter titled “The Missing 32%” referring to the 50% of women who graduate from architecture schools but make up only 18% of leadership roles at firms. The popularity of the conversation has grown into multiple symposiums over the last five years and transitioned into a full AIA committee titled “Equity by Design.” It has expanded to include other minority groups as well. Here is more information on the origins of the project.

The most recent survey was conducted in 2018, and AIA shared a key findings presentation in April 2019. You can find that here. The Equity by Design committee also provides tools and resources for taking steps to improve equity in the profession. Those tools can be found here.

In addition to the survey findings, the AIA published the Guides for Equitable Practice in Architecture earlier this year. These guides present research, best practices and other tools for firms and employees to navigate the challenges surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion. The ultimate goal is to encourage dialogue so that architectural firms are “providing the career development, professional environment, and cultural awareness expectations of employees and clients.” The guides can be found on the AIA website.

At the AIA convention in June, there was a bulletin board where attendees could put post-its on the board finishing the statement “I commit….” Overwhelmingly there was a common theme of listening and sharing stories. Architects must commit to building a profession that engages others and promotes those that are different from us. We must listen to the stories and share them for those whose voice is not as loud as the others. This is the way to build a more equitable, diverse field of architecture.

Lawrence Group is committed to bringing people together and that means making sure everyone has an opportunity for participate. We embrace the diversity of the communities we serve and strive to reflect their values in the built environment.

Resources:
Why equity is good for your practice
Equity by Design Tools & Resources
Guides for Equitable Practice

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