Login  |  View Cart  |  Search


Comments: 0

June 20, 2018:

The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR condemn the Justice Department’s zero-tolerance immigration enforcement policy issued on April 6, 2018. It is immoral and inhumane to separate children from their parents, and to use family separation to deter people seeking refuge or asylum. The United States must uphold international and U.S. laws protecting people fleeing violence and persecution. We are appalled that the current administration is putting children and parents in distress to justify increased funding for border militarization. Architecture is a state-licensed profession that obliges architects to uphold human rights, as well as the health, safety and welfare of the individual and the public in the built environment. The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR condemn all policies that use the built environment as an instrument of torture and oppression.

The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on architects, designers, planners and allied professionals to refuse to participate in the design of any immigration enforcement infrastructure, including but not limited to walls, checkpoints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, detention facilities, processing centers, or juvenile holding centers. We encourage owners, partners and employees who find themselves in practices that engage in this work to organize, and deny their labor to these projects. For too long, architects have been complicit in human caging by designing and building these structures. Architects designed the facilities where children call out for their parents at night. Architects also designed the extensive network of facilities where their parents shiver in frigid holding cells. History has taught us that what is strictly legal is not always what is just. It is time for this to end. We call on professionals to join us in this pledge: We will not design cages for people.

On the eve of the American Institute of Architects’ 2018 “Blueprint for Better Cities” convention, The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on the AIA to prove its commitment to making more diverse, equitable, inclusive, resilient, and healthy places for all people. If the AIA is committed to this goal then it must actively work to divest the profession from the production of dehumanizing infrastructures.The AIA should uphold their "Where we stand” statement on immigration by making a public statement condemning the use of architecture to enforce these inhumane policies, and making this work an excommunicable violation of AIA membership. Neither membership dues nor sponsorship dollars are worth the human cost of caging immigrants. Architects must design “better” places through inclusion and democratic power, not though exclusion and caging.

Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Wed May 23, 2018 @ 01:14AM
Comments: 0

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to blame school design for the recent school shooting in Santa Fe, TX, but as an architect I refuse to accept his scapegoating of school buildings for being ‘soft targets’. School buildings cannot be narrowed down to one easily surveilled entrance and windows restricted by potential firing lines. Schools need to be open and have large, inclusive areas to create the space for a community of learning. Just as important, daylight and views of nature in classrooms are essential for student attentiveness and performance, which is borne out by study after study of test scores and other metrics. Simply put, students can’t learn, and teachers can’t teach, in a bunker.

Pentagram's Library Initiative is bringing art and design to school libraries across New York City.

But the bunker mentality of Lt. Gov Patrick isn’t problematic just because it would obstruct what everyone knows about good school design. The bunker mentality is also a capitulation to fear -- if implemented it would teach children to fear their classmates and their school environments. School buildings are teachers themselves, and we must not allow them to teach lessons of fear and hostility.

Yet the biggest problem of Lt. Gov. Patrick’s school design bashing is how it distracts from the real problem: the easy availability of deadly firearms in a society filled with rage, bigotry, misogyny, and violence. No other developed country is considering turning their schools into fortresses; other countries don’t even consider Patrick’s horrible design ideas because they are not afraid of disaffected lone gunmen (and aren’t they always men?) toting tons of heavy weapons. Other countries achieve this remarkable (to Americans) sense of safety simply through having reasonable laws restricting gun possession to protect public health. The connection of guns to a threatened sense of white male identity makes it impossible for many Americans to accept this simple truth, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Lt. Gov Patrick doesn’t have exactly everything wrong, though. I share his dismay that we live in a culture of violence. However, I disagree strongly on what constitutes violence and how best to head towards a peaceful country. Patrick puts abortion at the top of his list of violent acts, followed by video games; his solution to violence includes arming teachers.

I fail to understand how arming more people can lead to a more peaceful society. In fact, I believe that the endorsement of violence by our government institutions sends a threatening message that instills fear and breeds more violence. This is on display when we send our military overseas to kill innocent civilians, and when police shoot and kill unarmed people of color and are not held to account. Nor is abortion a problem, though misogyny may well have been a factor in the Santa Fe, TX, shooting – restricting abortion and stealing away women’s rights does not send men the message that women are entitled to equality and respect, it reinforces a patriarchal worldview that ultimately justifies male violence.

ADPSR has long argued that designing “better” prisons can never solve the fundamental injustice of mass incarceration in our justice system; in the same vein, hardening schools does not even begin to address the real problem of school shootings. With respect to prisons, providing “nicer” cages cannot make up for the fundamental injustice of an incarceration rate 8 to 10 times that of other developed countries. And while ADPSR continues to insist that architects must resist prison design and uphold human rights when working for the justice system, the ultimate solution is to transform our society from one centered on punishment and retribution to one devoted to healing and restoration, with all the legislative changes that would entail.

To address school shootings, even gun control is only a partial solution – although at least it sends the message that preparing to solve your problems in a shoot-out is not OK (quite the opposite of Lt. Gov. Patrick’s goal of having more shoot-outs in schools by arming teachers). Ultimately, we must make a broadly shared commitment to build a peaceful society that treasures it children. In pursuit of that goal, school design is a place where architecture can make a difference.

Comments: 0
Shawn Hesse - Sun Oct 15, 2017 @ 12:28AM
Comments: 0

When did pharmaceutical executives take the moral high-ground over architects?

Most of the dozen or so people in attendance at the October 10, 2017 meeting of the BSA Ethics Committee said what you are probably thinking; never. That answer is wrong, however.In May of 2016, Pfizer became the last FDA approved drug manufacturer to release a statement saying they would join the other major pharmaceutical companies, and refuse to sell the drugs used in executions to state and federal agencies.Effectively, the entire pharmaceutical industry has collectively said, “we will not have our products used to execute people”.

In fact, there is a long list of industries that have taken a formal position against their members using their professional skills, training, or products to assist, or enable executions or torture.From the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Commission on Correctional Health Care, American Pharmacists Association, American Public Health Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American College of Correctional Physicians, American Board of Anesthesiology, and the World Medical Association.

The American Institute of Architects has not.

This is the root of the ADPSR ethics campaign: to encourage the AIA to take a similar position. AIA could adopt an ethics rule that would ensure the profession acts in ways that are consistent with upholding human rights when it comes to extreme cases of designing spaces intended for execution or torture.

The Boston Society of Architects Ethics Committee, however, is engaging in a conversation around this topic. At the October 10th meeting, the committee hosted Shawn Hesse, a member of the board of ADPSR, and Brad Walker, a former member of the National Ethics Council at AIA, to discuss the implications of the campaign, and the steps that the BSA could take independent of a strong stance from the AIA nationally.

The conversation revolved around two primary topics.The first, that the newly revised 2017 AIA Code of Ethics includes references to Human Rights, and includes new Ethical Standard, 1.5 – “Design for Human Dignity and the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Public: Members should employ their professional knowledge and skill to design buildings and spaces that will enhance and facilitate human dignity and the health, safety, and welfare of the individual and the public.”

The second topic was that the terms “Human Rights”, “prolonged solitary confinement”, “cruel and degrading”, and “torture” all have very specific definitions, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Mandela Rules (which provide guidance for how to design prisons while maintaining respect for the basic human rights and dignity of the individuals).

Although the majority of the conversation was focused on what could be done, there was disagreement about what it should be, and even whether anything should be done at all. In fact, through the concerns that were raised, it is clear that ADPSR should also take into account and include in our campaign the impact that prison buildings and spaces have on the mental health and dignity of not just the people who are imprisoned, but also the people who are the guards.

There was agreement that the BSA Ethics Committee would like to continue conversation, and there was a suggestion that the BSA distribute the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Mandela Rules to their members, with a tentative date in early 2018 to reconvene and discuss those standards more in depth.

Even if the architecture profession as a whole hasn’t regained the ethical high-ground, at least the BSA is working on it.

Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Tue Jun 20, 2017 @ 12:23AM
Comments: 0

wikimedia commons

The appearance, massing, and form of a building, including its relationship to its site and context, are integral to building performance. As architects, designers, and planners, we are committed to these design considerations, knowing that they have a powerful effect upon how people live and their experience of the built environment. When it came to renovate London’s Grenfell Tower, correcting life safety issues for residents should have come before surface cladding. Instead, Grenfell tower got a £8.6m aesthetic upgrade to its exterior made of dangerously flammable foam-backed panels, largely to appeal to its wealthy neighborhood "context", even as residents complained of un-addressed life safety issues such as the fire alarm system. The fact that non-flammable foam was available for just a few pounds more (https://qz.com/1007903/the-catastrophic-consequences-of-being-poor-in-one-of-londons-richest-neighborhoods/) indicates how thoroughly corrupted the project’s priorities and its commitment to health, safety, and welfare truly were.

By all reports, this tragedy was completely avoidable if even a small amount of attention had been paid to the residents at Grenfell themselves, who had raised serious safety concerns about the building many times. In the same vein, public agencies in the United States are racing to meet the needs of fossil fuel companies, weapons makers, and Trump family business associates while ignoring the needs of rural communities, distressed urban neighborhoods, and even aging suburbs. We cannot afford to see our department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps organize and regulate private housing finance and public housing, run by ideologues and Trump family cronies who know nothing about buildings, safety, urban planning, or public participation. We need to restore government to a system that listens to those most directly impacted by its policies and is responsive to the needs of all citizens. Design professionals have an important role to play to ensure that all stakeholders in public housing (and private housing and all other types of projects) get a considerate hearing, to ensure that safety comes first, and to press public agencies for the funds needed to do our work safely and properly.

Lastly, it is unacceptable that wealthy countries like the U.S. and U.K. can find tremendous amounts of money for waging wars around the world -- ostensibly to protect residents at home while destroying housing in other countries -- but spend so little on maintaining public housing that this kind of disaster occurs. The deaths at the Grenfell Towers are just the final outcome of a worldview that systematically starves public safety net agencies -- including housing authorities -- in order to give tax cuts to the financial and real estate sectors and wage endless wars.

Tags: #grenfell
Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Mon Feb 27, 2017 @ 11:47PM
Comments: 0

To ADPSR's dismay, the Trump Administration recently published a bidding opportunity for design/construction firms for the border wall project.These firms will be jeopardizing public health, safety and welfare by attempting to force more people to risk their lives in dangerous desert crossings through militarization and intimidation. The complete list of 189 “interested vendors” as of Feb. 27, 2017 is below.

Those wishing to express their feelings can contact the listed firms or, perhaps, the Federal bid managers:

Primary Point of Contact.:
John P Callahan,
Contract Specialist
Phone: 317-614-4934
Fax: 317-298-1344

Secondary Point of Contact:
Richard A Travis,
Contract Specialist
Phone: 317-614-4580
Fax: 317-298-1344

The bid notice reads as follows:
Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Added: Feb 24, 2017 11:34 am

The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017. The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.


Below is the current list of 219 (and counting) interested vendors for the project. As CityLab calls out in their article on the matter, not all listed vendors may be actually interested in the project, but may have other anti-wall motives. 


Comments: 0
Comments: 0

As caring people and design professionals, we are outraged to see peaceful acts of resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) met with escalating police brutality. The growing movement at Standing Rock puts the spotlight on both a planning process gone wrong and deeper societal design flaws starting with the genocide of indigenous peoples at the founding of this nation. As a nation, we need to hear and heed the voices of the Water Protectors, instead of yet again threatening first amendment and basic human rights in service to development interests. We urge fellow designers to add your name to this petition calling on President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and then take additional steps in active solidarity.

Image liscenced for noncommercial reuse - used by inhabitat.com

As planners, we are greatly concerned by federal fast-tracked permitting of the DAPL and other pipelines across our nation. Responsible planning takes working with stakeholders, not just stockholders, in an inclusive process. It behooves us to hear and heed the voices of the thousands of native peoples and non-native allies that have gathered in response to direct threats to the drinking water, burial grounds and other sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The threat to the Missouri River, which is the tribe’s primary water source is evidenced by the 220 ‘significant’ pipeline spills already this year, and over 3000 since 2006. The re-routing of the DAPL from its original proposed path through the state capital to native treaty landundermines a number of existing regulations and treaties and continues along history of siting dangerous and polluting infrastructure in native and other disadvantaged communities.

The #NoDAPL struggle is fundamentally about the rights of native peoples to defend their water and lives. Emerging from this foundation, #NoDAPL is also a nexus for a host of social and environmental justice issues facing our nation including systemic racism, global climate change, and intergenerational justice. As professionals, we can no longer afford to see these as disconnected concerns, separate from design. They impact both what we are contracted to design and our ability to conduct planning, design, and development in a socially responsible manner.

As architects, designers, and planners, we have the know-how to design net-zero energy buildings and to retrofit existing buildings to achieve high environmental standards. We know how to design livable, walkable communities and low-carbon transit systems. We also know how to engage communities in our planning processes and the importance of doing so. It isn’t lack of technical know-how that stymies our efforts to design-out fossil fuels and design-in community accountability, but rather improperly structured incentives for owners and designers.

What Standing Rock highlights is that we cannot effectively right these problems via voluntary measures by professionals. We need systemic change, and, given entrenched interests, we won’t get that change without people on the ground engaging in active civil disobedience. At a time that the planning and design industry is championing an integrated design approach, the Standing Rock struggle is highlighting a massive failure of social integration in planning procedures and natural resource policies. Active solidarity, that supports this native-led struggle without subsuming it, is a good place to start designing our way to a responsible, responsive, resilient society.

Comments: 0
Lynne Elizabeth - Mon May 16, 2016 @ 02:43PM
Comments: 0

Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), an organization currently in formation under the fiscal sponsorship of ADPSR, recently received a Thriving Cultures grant from the Surdna Foundation to perform community engagement and to design a peacemaking and restorative justice project in the greater Fruitvale area of Oakland, California. Under the leadership of designer and ADPSR board member Deanna Van Buren, DJDS will be working with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (EBC) and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) to launch a community-based restorative economics and restorative justice hub in East Oakland in the first phase of the Restore Oakland project.

Deanna was also recently named an Echoing Green 2016 Finalist for a Fellowship in Justice & Human Rights. Her stated goal is to “engage communities in the design and development of new buildings that integrate restorative justice, economics, education, and reentry housing to counter societal inequities evident in the dominant architectural models of courthouses and prisons.” Brava, Deanna!

Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Wed Feb 24, 2016 @ 04:23PM
Comments: 0

AIA has informed ADPSR that the AIA National Ethics Council will (re)consider our proposal to prohibit the design of execution chambers and spaces intended for torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. This is big progress from 2014, when AIA rejected ADPSR's proposal, but a new turn for the National Ethics Council, which had never considered the proposal before. We salute AIA's 2015 and 2016 Presidents for taking another look at this vitally important issue. Since AIA's rejection, two more medical professional associations -- this time, of pharmacists -- have told their members not to participate in executions, and the United Nations has adopted new human rights rules for the treatment of prisoners specifically barring the kind of solitary confinement routinely practiced across the United States. ADPSR explained these and other trends in a letter encouraging AIA to consider last year.

Please JOIN US in thanking AIA for their reconsideration and encouraging them to take a strong stand for human rights!

Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Tue Feb 09, 2016 @ 11:44PM
Comments: 0

In December the American Correctional Association proposed modifying its standards for solitary confinement. It was a series of relatively minor proposed changes, starting with changing the name of the practice from "segregated housing" (which is what many prison and jail agencies currently call solitary) to "Restrictive Housing." The standards include portions dealing with the spaces used for "restrictive housing," including size, access to light, and views.

We at ADPSR were not entirely sure that it was appropriate to try to "improve" these standards -- for instance by arguing for larger rooms and better daylight and views -- since common American use of solitary confinement (whatever you call it) does not meet international human rights standards. Most obviously, while human rights groups agree that solitary confinement should be very limited, used as a last resort, and then for 15 days at an absolute maximum, the US has tens of thousands of people in solitary with stays of a year, multiple years, and even decades not uncommon. "Better" conditions may make a 15 day stay tolerable, but will do nothing to curb the abuse inherent in prolonged solitary confinement.
However, at the urging of other human rights groups, we added comments that encourage ACA to require a higher minimum quality of space for places intended for "restrictive housing." Our comments cited the new "Mandela Rules" (see below) consistently, and we included a letter contextualizing our comments within a broader human rights framework. For more on the ACA process, click here; for ADPSR's letter and comments, click here.
Comments: 0
Raphael Sperry - Tue Feb 09, 2016 @ 11:42PM
Comments: 0

As a group long focused on the human rights abuses of American prisons, ADPSR welcomes the recent update of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which date back to 1955. The update to the rules were named for South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, who famously spent many years as a political prisoner himself and, among his other achievements, was an advocate for prisoners' rights.

The new rules give even greater strength to ADPSR's proposal that architects should not design spaces intended for prolonged solitary confinement. The new rules define "prolonged solitary confinement" as a condition where people are held within cells for 22 hours per day for more than 15 days. They also say solitary should be reserved for exceptional cases and used as a last resort. And, with respect to medical ethics, they also exclude medical professionals from having any role in imposing solitary confinement. Given common American penal practices, it is readily foreseeable that these rules will be violated if architects provide spaces for any form of solitary confinement. The currently proposed new ACA standards for "restrictive housing" (see item above) allow for stays greatly in excess of 15 days.
ACA is often held up as the best that American prisons have to offer and is taken as a step towards more humane conditions. After all, many U.S. states and individual facilities don't even meet ACA standards. Yet these highest national standards fail to meet the minimum international human rights rules -- rules designed for compliance by countries with far fewer resources and much less professional expertise than the United States. To learn more about the Mandela Rules, we recommend the introductory video and associated resources from Penal Reform International here .
Comments: 0