Last Friday, President Trump issued a highly controversial executive order that temporarily bans citizens and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. According to an attorney for the government, 100,000 visas have been revoked already. Almost immediately after it was announced, architects and architecture schools decried the order. Some made reference to the fact that notable architects, like the late Dame Zaha Hadid, would not be allowed to enter the United States according to the restrictions. Universities felt an immediate effect, as faculty members and students were stranded abroad, unable to return to their classes.
The executive order makes reference three times to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, although none of the attackers were born in countries included in the ban. Additionally, the restrictions stipulate that refugee claims made by members of a minority religion will be privileged over those made by Muslims, despite the fact that the majority of victims of violence in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere are Muslim. In an interview conducted following the order, President Trump clarified that this means that Christian refugees will be given priority. According to some critics and legal scholars, such a stipulation violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment clause, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
[Update: February 3, 2017, 05:28 PM PST] A U.S. judge based in Seattle has temporarily blocked the order nationwide.
Archinect is collecting responses from architecture firms and schools to the executive order, and will update this post as more come in. Please get in touch if you would like to include a statement.
Harvard Graduate School of Design
“Let me be clear that the intolerance and prejudice signaled by this action cut against the core values that the GSD stands for,” states Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, an Iranian-American. “Its spirit runs counter to our collective commitment to inclusion and to cultivating a diversity of people, ideas, and perspectives, the necessary ingredients of healthy and productive discourse and responsible citizenship.”
Harvard President Drew Faust states, “international students and scholars are essential to our identity and excellence....In times of unsettling change, we look toward our deepest values and ideals. Among them is the recognition that drawing people together from across the nation and around the world is a paramount source of our University’s strength.”
She has published a full letter, which can be read here.
UCLA School of Art & Architecture
“Sometimes concision is required,” writes David Roussève, Interim Dean. “So, let me be concise: The Dean’s office condemns in the strongest possible terms the executive order around visas and immigration released by the President this past weekend.”
“As a school community that includes the departments of Art, Architecture and Urban Design, Design|Media Arts, World Arts and Cultures/Dance as well as the Hammer Museum, Fowler Museum, and Center for the Art of Performance, our mission is ultimately to protect and educate our students,” he continued. “In protecting our students, we will work with the campus to discuss ways that we can support those affected by these travel/immigration bans (which includes staff and faculty).”
Roussève directly addressed his students, writing:
Dear Students: Sometimes education occurs outside the classroom and the studio, and sometimes issues transcend party and political beliefs. As an affront to the values that form the very core of our democracy and your education, I believe that the recent executive order fits into both of those categories. I encourage you to think about how these issues affect your lives, but then to take action.
Conversations and actions are happening around our school in a myriad of ways. Last weekend a performance I choreographed based on a musical work of South African author Alan Paton’s novel “Cry the Beloved Country” was presented by Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA in Royce Hall. We used that performance to begin conversations around the warning apartheid South Africa offers us on the destruction that hate and division can bring. In the lobby I saw Claudia Bestor the Director of Public Programs at the Hammer Museum, who reminded me that the Hammer is screening “I am not Your Negro” tonight (in my opinion there is much to learn from James Baldwin on possible ways to survive when your values are affronted). World Arts and Cultures/Dance Chair Lionel Popkin had to run home after the performance to rest since he spent his entire Sunday at LAX in protest—as I know many other members of our community did.
I am not trying to dictate how you respond. This is, of course, your choice based on your belief system. But whatever your response may be—whether making art or directly protesting or calling your congressperson or donating to the organization of your choice that is fighting for your perspective—I encourage you to contemplate the consequences of this weekend’s executive action and then to express yourself. And please know that the school, the university, and the UC system are doing what they can to have your back while you do so.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, EVC/Provost Scott Waugh, and President Napolitano also issued a response, signed by every UC Chancellor. Check it out here.
Taubman College, University of Michigan
“Fostering an environment that promotes education and research at the highest levels is among my most important responsibilities as the University of Michigan’s president,” writes University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel. “The leadership of the university is committed to protecting the rights and opportunities currently available to all members of our academic community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to continue to identify, recruit, support and retain academic talent, at all levels, from around the world.”
Robert Fishman, Interim Dean of Tubman College echoed the sentiment, stating “This affirmation applies particularly to Taubman College. Architecture, planning, and urban design have rightly become global in scope because the immense challenges of re-designing and re-planning the world stemming from climate change and rapid urbanization are necessarily global in scope. We have sought to make Taubman College an international center for architecture and planning focused on these issues.”
“We are proud and honored that so many outstanding students, faculty, and staff from around the world have chosen to study, teach, and work at Taubman College,” he continues. “I speak for everyone at Taubman College when I pledge that we will do everything we can to fight unjust and un-American regulations and to maintain and enhance the college as a diverse international community where the ‘leaders and best’ from around the world can work together to respond to our global challenges.”
The University has stated that they will refuse to release the immigration status of its students.
The Southern California Institute of Architecture
Dear SCI-Arc community,
Let’s remember at this uncertain moment that SCI-Arc was founded on the premise that architecture can make the world better. In almost half a century since a small group of passionate individuals moved into modest sheds in Santa Monica, SCI-Arc has built a global community of students, faculty, and alumni that have dedicated themselves to a noble vision of civilized space. This vision has inspired us to bring the world, in all of its diversity, to our campus here in Los Angeles, and we will continue to do so.
Architecture can be a marker in civilization for its finest values and aspirations. It has the capacity to bring people together in extraordinary ways. Recent political trends would have us turn inward and away from one another. This is something that SCI-Arc can never do. We refuse to let architecture become a tool for divisiveness and demoralization.
Over the weekend, a new executive order has impacted some of you directly. We want you to know that every one of us is affected by this. What affects one of us in our community affects all of us. We also want you to know that we see it as a profound risk to our core mission and the open future that belongs to all of us at SCI-Arc. Every member of the SCI-Arc community, regardless of where you come from, what you believe, or whom you love, is indispensable to our mission.
Creating an environment that stimulates education, speculation and humanity is at the center of who we are and do. SCI-Arc is committed to protecting the rights to all the members of our community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to keep doing so.
Now as always we stand together with you to defend a more just and open future.
Studio Libeskind would not exist without immigration.
Daniel Libeskind immigrated to the United States, fleeing persecution and Communist rulers in Poland. His wife, Nina, co-founder of the practice, is Canadian. Daniel and Nina run the studio with three partners from the US, Germany, and Afghanistan. Our studio in New York is comprised of the most dedicated and talented architects and designers from more than a dozen countries. On any given day one can hear French, Spanish, Farsi, Italian, German, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish, Swedish, Arabic, and Korean spoken, This diversity makes us stronger and makes this practice uniquely American, not the other way around.
The Trump travel ban is an affront to our freedom and core values. It affects our employees, colleagues, and collaborators. Now is the time for us to join hands and take a stand. On January 21, the Studio brought nearly a 100 people to march on Washington DC. We are actively boycotting companies that support the current administration’s policies. But there is still more to do. We invite our colleagues in the architecture design and construction communities to join us.
College of Design, University of Kentucky
In any given year, nearly 50% of our College of Design student body have an education abroad experience, which is significantly more than any of the other 15 colleges on the UK campus. We study “away” because it broadens our palette of place, not only because of the structure that humanity creates and leaves behind but because of the heterogeneity of those who inhabit these places. These experiences are also “exchanges” – we visit and we invite. The Trump travel ban is disabling to that whole relationship, and if allowed to continue will extinguish what we have understood for decades as a critical component to architecture and design education. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart blocked the order this week but President Trump has promised to fight it. And so must we.
Dauntless, students are our boldest and clearest voice. In an open letter to the UK campus posted on our building, one of our students, Dalton Wharff wrote: “Design a world that facilitates the ability to care. A world where your self-worth is not determined by the darkness of your skin, your personal beliefs, your sexuality, your culture, your gender, or the way in which your body is able to function…We as designers determine who has access to space and who does not. Break down those barriers, both physical and psychological, and create spaces where all are free…”
Rhode Island School of Design
Dear RISD Community,
On Friday, the Trump administration issued an executive order barring citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the United States, regardless of their visa status. A number of courts have already stayed portions of the order. A separate court order issued in response stops the detention and removal of refugees, residents, and visa holders who enter through Logan Airport in Boston for the next seven days. The order will be litigated during this time, so the situation remains fluid.
To our knowledge, no RISD student, faculty member, or staff member has yet been directly and immediately affected. However, we continue to monitor the situation closely and seek to assist anyone in the community who needs help. The Office of International Student Services is reaching out to support anyone potentially affected. The staff of the OISS are available to answer questions, to help gather and verify information that is being shared online, and to provide any needed support. They can be reached at 401-277-4957 or email@example.com, or in person at their offices in Carr Haus. If you, or a RISD community member that you know, are currently on a travel course or internship and face difficulties returning to campus, call RISD Public Safety at 401-454-6376. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will be updated regularly on all protocols to best support your individual circumstances. We will continue to communicate any relevant changes.
Prior to this order, I joined several hundred other college presidents and chancellors in signing a petition launched by Pomona College in support of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, and undocumented immigrant students. If you wish to act and to add your individual voice to this call, you may consider signing onto this statement.
I want to state unequivocally that RISD does not endorse any form of discrimination. Such actions are contrary to our institutional values. Our mission is global in nature and our community represents more than 60 nations, a fact of which we are immensely proud. We know that a vital community is inclusive and celebrates all identities. While these are days of heightened anxiety for many in our community, we will continue to uphold our values and protect any vulnerable community members. It is essential that we are guided by and remember these core values, and that we take extra care to help and respect each other.
Family is an American business that would not exist without the immigrants and children of immigrants that founded and work at it. Oana and I are always trying to crystalize what our office stands for, but what's never been in question is that everything we do should try and make things better for as many people as possible. Oh and to not be terrible fucking human beings. Both of those seem like no brainers. Right now it's shameful that we can't expect the same from our leaders.
The below is from Oana, and a good reminder of how important it is to get out there and keep fighting for the things that matter:
That was the first photo I sent home when I first came to the US, 10 1/2 years ago. The "I <3 NY" on a cab receipt was expressing something I felt deeply: that this was a special place, where humanity and basic rights were the status quo, and that was what made it a free place. I had never quite felt that before.
Having dealt with the kafkaesque annals of visa bureaucracies in Europe my entire life, I was nervous and somewhat in disbelief all the way until i made it through homeland security (what a poetic name). Flying in above the city, at night, everything brightly lit, made the city feel magic and endless. I took the train and distinctly remember the first impression: it all felt strangely familiar and easy.
Meanwhile NY has become my home. Not only the place were I get up and go to work, but where my friends and my heart are, where i found joy and sorrow, where i grew into myself and where I have been given so many opportunities that I still can't believe my luck.
Millions of lives were brutally and unjustifiable interrupted in the last 24 hours in ways in which most of us cannot even imagine: families ripped apart, lives discontinued, educations abandoned. No matter what happens, these lives are forever broken, because you can't undo that jarring fear that everything you built in a lifetime has been taken away from you in a split second.
The absurdity and inhumanity of it is what makes it scary. I am not sure where I woke up today, but this is not the place I came to. Kafka wouldn't have anything to write about today.
Lira Luis (ALLL)
Did you know that one of America's greatest architects of the 20th Century was of immigrant parents?
I rallied against the travel ban that was issued as an executive order of president Trump.
As the first Filipina immigrant to be accepted into Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and graduate with a Master of Architecture degree, my contributions to the cultural and educational interests of the community have prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to grant me an EB-2 Green Card, which is given solely to “foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.” I have continuously given substantial benefit to US interests with indications of future success that merited me an American citizenship. I have economically contributed to the brain gain for the USA. Even Frank Lloyd Wright, in as early as the 1930s when he started the Taliesin Fellowship, have engaged diverse nationalities to work on his projects (and study under him as a rite of passage), which 17 of them have been honored by the AIA. Diversity is one of the core values of the USA and what makes it great.
I now run an architecture firm in Chicago called ALLL with an initiative, the Leapfrog Project, focused on helping extreme natural disaster survivors rebuild with resilience. These are some of the demonstrations of the positive impact immigrants have on US society, workers, the community and the environment in addition to contributing to the economy.
All of these are my own views and do not represent the AIA or RIBA where I currently hold national and international leadership positions.
Is your practice or school affected by the travel ban? Let us know!
Writer and fake architect, among other feints. Principal at Adjustments Agency. Co-founder of Encyclopedia Inc. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org