Called out CEO Hernan, got blocked for it


The other day on SCI-Arc’s Instagram I saw the news of CEO Hernan Diaz Alonso’s recent award of $10,000 and decided to query in the comments if this would help him pay his employees, since his massive salary as CEO apparently still isn’t enough. In light of his insulation from getting #metoo’d by weight of his institutional prowess and supposed might, I thought this question should be asked. My comment was deleted, and I was blocked from their page. 

Why might this be the response if not company policy to sweep under the rug the pervasive and institutionalized tradition of exploited unpaid labor enjoyed by many SCI-Arc faculty (not that other academic-adjacent firms do the exact same thing)? Has anyone else ever experienced such hush-hushing? 

Why is Ishigami the only name taking the fall?

Apr 24, 19 8:58 pm

Its the industry's dirty secret.

The gulf between professional practice and artist ateliers is massive: Architects who run viable businesses will pay their employees. Artists who are already heavily subsidized by academia will not - Without clients, their "practices" are frivolous pursuits in all but name. The only argument they can muster is that they are contributing to the field as only artists can - for the sake of the work and nothing else. Unpaid workers, the logic goes, are a necessary evil in the pursuit of greater art.

Apr 24, 19 10:15 pm
liberty bell

Yeah, I would think that if you pay your people then if someone asks if you do you would just say “Yes we do” rather then delete and block the questioner. 

Apr 24, 19 11:51 pm

note too the organizers of the serpentine pavilion who commissioned ishigami just want to sweep it all under the rug - their response wasn't that he (or all architects) need to pay all staff, it's that the unpaid interns shouldn't work on their project. more likely it just means if interns work on it they won't be listed on any credits for the project.

Apr 25, 19 1:19 am

Any SCI-Arcers out there with similar experiences? You’re right liberty bell and midlander. Excuses pour out from all cracks for these exploitative practices. 

I worked unpaid. I know the arguments for/against. I got a lot out of it. But in the end I was exploited, someone profited off of my incurred debt, and most couldn’t have taken the same opportunity as I, and the structural disadvantage to those less able is even further perpetuated. It’s outrageous how stratified along class lines architecture is.

Hernan Diaz Alonso is a profit-oriented business man who, like half of his faculty, learned well from L. Ron Hubbard on how to build the infrastructure for a scalable con. And how to insulate it with glossy images, massive investment in marketing schemes, and glitzy endorsements and PR stunts.

A general call-out document like Shitty Architecture Men needs to be brought back, this time unattached to an individual so that it can’t be litigated out of public hands. It needs to include labor practices. Happy to see Arch lobby’s just design initiative but I don’t believe in letting those guilty off the hook.

Apr 25, 19 3:04 pm
Non Sequitur

there are zero arguments in favor of unpaid work. zero.


I share this as a display of sentiment but there still exists the large idea that unpaid work can function as extended education. It’s 100% a gaslighting technique to convince those on the bottom they deserve to stay there. we have to combat it instead of dismiss it. But what you’re saying is true: unpaid work is indistinguishable from raw, ill-intended humiliating exploitation. If the business model can’t operate with out it, it’s a shit business model and you deserve to go under. But as others point out, no, they can operate without it and choose not to.


Hernan is a fucking moron with an idiotic design "ideology". [Waiting to see if this gets erased]

Apr 25, 19 3:15 pm

mark lee drives a 150k 2019 porsche cayenne turbo.  he could pay his workers more, but perish the thought that he gets forced into a car for plebians, like an Audi S5, which costs a piddling 60k.  

Apr 26, 19 9:59 am

Ishigami is the only one taking the fall (and that Pritzker-prick Aravena) because they are not European or American. They are safe and easy targets to focus all our moral outrage on and to go back to business as usual. Glad you called out Hernan, at least here on archinect, now we all know he doesn't pay his interns AND prefers censorship over free speech. What a dick!

Apr 26, 19 10:36 am

AND his work sucks


What's weird for me is that unpaid interns are indeed getting paid "market wages" since by the rules of the free market, they would flock to a job that pays. Instead they head to unpaid shops instead. Either the non-wage portion of compensation (E.g. prestige, connections, signalling functions) outweigh the paid portion or the architecture intern job market is essentially a bizarre arena between actual workers (Competing for wages) and hobbyists (For whom wages are irrelevant).

Apr 26, 19 11:34 am

Apparently there are people out there that can afford to work for nothing, even invest in their own computer and software in cases for the employer to profit from. It makes that only spoiled rich kids can profit from the opportunities those prestigious wankers have to offer. If architecture school wasn't a rich kids hobby, first jobs and internships surely are in those places. They and their clients should be named and shamed so they will change their ways so in the future underpriviliged grads can also benefit from the often invaluable experience. No architecture faculty should be allowed to have staff on the payroll that doesn't pay their interns, no government agency should be allowed to award projects to architects that don't pay their interns, fuck them!


Exactly. As REX put, it makes no sense for a properly run professional practice to limit its talent pool to those who could afford to work for free. They would be missing out on all the designers who would otherwise work for the SOMs and Fosters and Genslers (Real businesses with real fee-paying clients and billable hours).

There is no economic logic for practices without clients and billable hours to survive on the largess of wealthy interns.


"Academic" firms are just vanity projects for their principals unless, or until, they strike it big. Full-time teaching or deaning doesn't merit time for business development outside of architecture magazine puff pieces or op-eds. The hope is that paper architecture turns into stacking that paper. Until then, you're unpaid and if the time comes, you may finally be underpaid. 

Apr 26, 19 7:46 pm

Schools play a huge role in subsidizing these 'artists' - free student labor via work study, free office space, free production facilities. The downside is that one could be easily lulled into staying put within one's circle instead of spending time doing business development.

Jeanne Gang made a point to hang out with developers early in her independent career - and it paid off handsomely when she met the developer who handed her the Aqua commission.

Apr 26, 19 9:04 pm

It paid off so well that she finally could "afford" to pay her female staff the same as her male staff...


not trying to bump this, but felt compelled to add that I learned Hernan currently pays employees and I’m not one to promote slandering gossip, especially when it was my own. All I know is a couple years ago, my friend wasn’t paid by xefirotarch for a summer internship. But this explains the block. Could have DMd me to explain it and request I delete the comment instead of do the exact thing a guilty party would do when faced with ugly truth lol 

May 10, 19 8:49 pm

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