On November 9, 2016, the American Institute of Architects resigned itself to a cowardly position of economic and political subservience with its support of President-elect Trump. The AIA’s refusal to take a principled stance on an incoming administration that galvanized support through hatred, divisiveness, and fear constitutes an abdication of its self-proclaimed responsibility to speak on behalf of architects and a contradiction of its own stated beliefs.
We, the undersigned students of the Yale School of Architecture, unequivocally denounce the AIA’s endorsement of the new status quo. For too long, our profession has been complicit in giving form to landscapes of inequality and discrimination, and has itself been plagued by a history of racial and gender inequity. The AIA’s immediate and unquestioning pandering to the Trump administration threatens a continuation of our troubled past and demonstrates a willingness to pursue financial gain at the expense of our values. With the promise of renewed federal investment in infrastructure, the position of architects as conscientious stewards of the built environment has never been more important.
We believe it is paramount for the AIA to protect and maintain the integrity, quality, and security of the built and natural environments at every level. The organization has long recognized climate change and touted “energy conservation... as well as aggressive development and harvesting of energy from renewable sources.”1 It professes a commitment to “the promotion of human and civil rights, the universal respect for human dignity, and the unbiased treatment of all persons in employment.”2 It claims to promote “design that engenders greater community health [as a] way to not only save costs, but to enhance the lives of individuals.”3 These principles must not bend to opportunism in the face of a new administration. If we are to unite in the best interest of America’s future, it will be with our values intact.
We cannot afford to relinquish the agency of our craft to those who would
use it for self-serving political gain. We have an ethical responsibility not to erect walls that divide, but to lay the foundation for a more unified, just, and safe society.
We stand firmly behind the following principles, which we believe are greatly imperiled by the position of the AIA:
We believe in the social value of architecture and the moral agency of architects. We believe human values are more important than material values.
We will work to mitigate the effects of the built environment on climate change. We will resist individuals, institutions, and systems that exploit people and land for power and profit.
We will continue our commitment to promoting equality and diversity within
We will exclusively contribute to the creation of a built environment that is equal, just, and safe for all people.
Students of the Yale School of Architecture
Related on Archinect:
The Boston Society of Architects and the AIA's Chicago chapter also issued public responses to the AIA's pledge to work with Trump. Read our explainer about the whole story here, and listen to our discussion with #NotMyAIA creator Katherine Darnstadt below:
How do you feel about the AIA's handling of Trump's presidency? Send us your response here, and take our poll: