Typically, the dialogue that we have fostered on this blog has been crafted to provide value and guidance related to our industry. But during these past few months, as we’ve all been forced to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing has been typical. And now, more prominently, we have been confronted by the systemic racism that is embedded in our culture, and by extension, our industry.
The international groundswell of emotion, passion and support for Black Lives Matter, and the recognition of our own biases toward Black, Indigenous and Peoples of Color (BIPOC), have powerfully impacted us. Our team has been discussing this, and we are poignantly aware of our complicity in broken racial and social structures. We are humbled by our blindness toward BIPOC. We have not been allies. Simply considering ourselves “not racist” is not acceptable. If we don’t actively work to dismantle our biases and overcome our comfortable structures, we will remain part of the problem.
Silence is violence.
Where do we as individuals and members of BUILD llc go from here? We’re not sure, but we do know that it won’t be business as usual. We have made personal commitments to ourselves and to our communities; we are listening, and will continue to educate ourselves on racism and the roles we may play in eradicating inequality—for each other, for our industry, and for our culture. We will be proactive in our support of the BIPOC community. We will insist that our actions staunchly reinforce equity and fairness. What is this going to look like? We don’t know. But we are taking our first, albeit imperfect, steps into a lifetime commitment. We have begun by:
• Supporting peaceful protests and calls to transform our institutions, and we will continue to do so.
• Directing our pro bono and fundraising efforts toward advocacy for social justice, and actively encouraging our generous community to do the same.
• Seeking organizations for whom we may share our unique skills and knowledge to expand access and promote diversity within the design industry.
• Evaluating each of our projects through a new lens to not only ensure that we are not creating detrimental and harmful architecture, but that we are positively contributing to the built environment.
• Brainstorming ways our blog may highlight BIPOC designers and foster discussions about the role our industry plays in the quest for social justice.
As a white dominated industry with direct connections to developers and planning agencies, architects hold an immense responsibility to advocate for underserved communities. We are witnessing a sea change, and we are course-correcting.