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Statement on Immigration Enforcement in the United States

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.

Scapegoating School Design

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’. After the recent school shooting in Santa Fe, TX, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the state should “look at the design of our schools" to reduce school shootings. But this threatens to make schools into bunkers, depriving students and teachers of a decent environment, reinforces a culture of fear, and distracts from truly solving the problems of gun violence. We need to build a peaceful society, not bunker-like schools. read more


Boston Society of Architects and ADPSR co-host discussion on ethics, torture, and execution

Oct 10, 2017: ADPSR was very pleased to co-host a panel discussion on professional ethics with the BSA Ethics Committee. ADPSR helped to educate members about international human rights standards for incarcerated people and where common American prison design practice stands in regards to that (pro tip: US prisons are not in compliance, especially in their use of solitary confinement). We also recognized that the recent addition of Ethical Standard 1.5 on Human Dignity and Health, Safety and Welfare to the AIA Code of Ethics was a step in the right direction but still doesn't set enforceable rules on architect members designing spaces intended to torture or kill people. Read more on our blog.

ADPSR Responds to Border Wall RFPs: We reject your proposal. #WeWontBuildYourWall.

March 30, 2017: ADPSR submitted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security earlier today describing our objections to the border wall project. The text of the letter is below or it can be downloaded here:

United States Department of Homeland Security
“Wall Innovations”
245 Murray Drive
Building 410
Mail Stop 3600
Washington, District of Columbia 20528
United StatesWall_Innovations@hq.dhs.gov

Re: Solicitation Numbers: 2017-DHS-OCPO-RFI-0001, 2017-JC-RT-0001, HSBP1017R0022

To Whom it may Concern,

Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility is an organization founded in 1981 dedicated to peace, environmental protection, and socially responsible development. We are past winners of the American Institute of Architects Collaborative Achievement Award and a voice of conscience within our field. We speak for over 750 members from across the design professions. Our message is simple: as architects, designers, and planners we reject your border wall. The project envisioned in these solicitations should not be built. It is wasteful, damaging, unethical, and mean-spirited. These design solicitations must be terminated and your department must refocus your efforts on projects that will enhance our country, not hurt it.

As you can see from the design projects submitted by ADPSR members to the solicitations listed above, there are plenty of alternatives that could make better use of the financial resources and professional talent you are seeking to deploy for this project. We offer you the true strength of American architecture, design, and planning: not our fear of and hostility towards others, but our courage, humor, intelligence, compassion, and generosity. Rather than further isolating already marginalized communities, we call on your department to widely distribute design solutions that address the real needs of all stakeholders of the border region with resilient strategies of interdependence.

Our professions are committed to protecting public health, safety, and welfare, so we are fundamentally at odds with this project that intends to divide, demean, and injure people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Our objections are:

1. This is a project that kills. There are already frequent deaths of would-be migrants in the deserts of the border area. This proposed wall, by making the border even more inaccessible, will increase the number of deaths: an outcome that is completely unacceptable and flies in the face of professional ethics and human rights. Architects and planners can not ethically undertake projects that will kill people, nor should your department seek to cause death or to suborn designers into unethical practice.

2. This project will undermine peaceful international relations between the United States and Mexico. As demonstrated by some of the design features requested in the RFPs (e.g. “aesthetically pleasing” treatment on the North side only) this project embodies a profound mistrust and aversion towards Mexico; a country with which the United States has traditionally had extremely important trade, cultural, and interpersonal relations. Much of the political campaign rhetoric leading up to this RFP painted a harshly negative picture of Mexicans that was seen by the majority of Americans, and the rest of the world, as frankly racist. This project clearly builds on that view. We reject your hostile gesture towards Mexico.

3. This project will damage the ecology of our border region. The line this wall will be built on is the result of politics; it is not aligned with an ecological or natural border. This wall will divide and damage regional ecosystems, including habitat for many endangered species, and disrupt watershed flows and animal migration routes. The deserts of central North America are delicate ecologies that are increasingly stressed by a changing climate; this project will only exacerbate regional decline.

4. This wall will also harm the human communities that seek to live in the border region. Recent polling suggests that residents on both the US and the Mexican side of the border region overwhelmingly oppose this project. This wall will cause economic harm to residents of sister cities on both sides of the border who are economically and socially dependant on one another.

5. This project is completely unnecessary and hugely wasteful. The motivation for this project -- the idea that people from Mexico and Central America crossing remote borders on foot pose a significant public safety threat or are stealing American jobs -- is not founded in fact. Most undocumented people in this country arrived long ago or have entered legally and overstayed their visas. And the U.S.-Mexico border is already colossally overbuilt and over-surveilled. The contractors supplying the current services don’t need more government largesse, they need to be reined in and reviewed for their political donations.

The billions of dollars proposed for this project must instead be used to sustain the infrastructure truly essential to American homeland security that has been neglected for far too long, from dangerously unreinforced dams and bridges to addressing the pressing concerns of climate change on coastal cities and the housing crisis sweeping much of our nation.

For the record, the members of ADPSR and our colleagues do not offer our services to build your project of hatred, racism, violence, and waste. We demand investment for the public good instead.

Sincerely yours,

The Board of Directors of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility


Active links:
Wall_Innovations@hq.dhs.gov     cc:borderwall@adpsr.org.

Read the full Call for Information from the Department of Homeland Security here

Call for designers to submit protest proposals for Trump’s border wall

Last week it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will release a Request for Proposals from architects and contractors for the “design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) does not accept this border wall project, and calls on architects, designers, and contractors to add their voices in opposition. Our professions are committed to protecting public health, safety, and welfare, so we are fundamentally at odds with any project that intends to divide, demean, and injure people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

This project will undermine peaceful international relations between the U.S. and Mexico, and demonstrate a profound mistrust and aversion towards the rest of the world. Professional design practice and human relations are increasingly global. As decent national and world citizens, American designers and contractors must not participate in an ill-conceived and hostile gesture towards the rest of the world.

We must also take stock of the frequent deaths of would-be migrants in the deserts of the border area. This proposed wall, by making the border even more inaccessible, will increase the number of deaths: an outcome that is completely unacceptable and flies in the face of professional ethics and human rights. Designers can not ethically undertake projects that will kill people or cause harm.

This project is completely unnecessary and hugely wasteful. We must not be scared by the rhetoric of a “lawless” border; in fact, through many successful projects such as Land Ports of Entry, designers and builders have made the U.S. border more welcoming, efficient, and well-controlled. The idea that people from Mexico and Central America crossing remote borders on foot pose a significant public safety threat or are stealing jobs is not supported by evidence.. Participation in the border wall project indicates acceptance of a worldview that smacks of ignorance and racism.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates the wall will cost $21.6 billion dollars. Instead, the billions of dollars proposed here should be used to sustain the infrastructure truly essential to public health, safety, and welfare that has been neglected for far too long. From public schools and community parks to dangerously unreinforced dams and bridges, or addressing the pressing concerns of climate change on coastal cities, or the housing crisis sweeping much of our nation, this funding should be used to connect our communities, not divide them.

ADPSR calls for resistance to the border wall project. We encourage architects, designers, planners, and our allies to:

1) Submit protest bids to the Federal bidding portal, and cc ADPSR with your submittal.

We will publish these protests online to demonstrate that our professions do not accept the basic premises of this project. Adding them to the Federal portal will place your protest “on the record.” For those needing assistance, please send your entry to ADPSR and we will submit it for you. Address pdf documents to borderwall (at) adpsr (dot) org. Please keep file sizes reasonable or send via fileshare.

2) Prepare for legal challenges to the bidding process. Take time to review the insanely short proposed schedule and identify how this might obstruct a realistic bid that you as a designer might want to submit. Consider submitting a bid to hold a place for this future protest. Review the forthcoming RFP for inaccuracies, biased statements, or anti-competitive features and share these with us at borderwall (at) adpsr (dot) org. We will do our best to raise legal challenges as the process proceeds.

We will not collaborate with hate, racism, fear, or violence. We demand investment for the public good!

AIA should immediately call for an end to the travel ban

On December 6th, 2016, ADPSR wrote a letter to AIA National urging them to take steps in response to the recent election and AIA’s response (ADPSR_AIA_Post-Election_2016_Letter.pdf ). Yesterday we wrote another letter to the AIA, telling them NOW the time has come to take action! A copy of the letter is below:


Dear President Vonier and CEO Ivy,
Since last Friday members of architecture firms large and small -- and much of our country -- have been thrown into distress by President Trump's travel ban. The travel ban has made talented architects and employees, clients, and colleagues from the countries that Mr. Trump has chosen to discriminate against question whether they and their families will be able to come and go freely from the United States, and indeed if they (or the rest of us) even are living in a free country. This is unacceptable. Professional associations play an essential role in maintaining civil society by speaking for members collectively, especially when member individuals and firms have reason to fear a threat of retaliation (as is a clear tendency of Mr. Trump). It has come to our attention that the American Association of Universities President has already issued a statement calling for an immediate end to the travel ban in order to protect American leadership in their field and civil society in general -- an action other associations like AIA must follow:

Following is a statement by Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman.

We recognize the importance of a strong visa process to our nation’s security. However, the administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible. The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others.

We also urge the Administration, as soon as possible, to make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities. It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars. That is why we have worked closely with previous administrations, especially in the wake of 9/11, to ensure our visa system prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.

Other countries have set the goal of surpassing the United States as the global leader in higher education, research, and innovation. Allowing them to replace this country as the prime destination for the most talented students and researchers would cause irreparable damage, and help them to achieve their goal of global leadership

ADPSR wrote to you in December urging AIA to prepare materials to support member firms likely to face discrimination and harrassment (see attached letter): now the time has come to take action. AIA must not sit idly by while the basic fabric of American society and American leadership in the architectural profession are assaulted from the White House.

Sincerely yours,

Women's March 

January 17, 2017

Join us for the Women's march on Washington on Saturday, January 21. Alongside fellow Architects, Designers, Urbanists, Community Organizers, Housing Advocates, and everyone else working to make the built environment safer and more equitable for all citizens, we will add our voices to the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families, recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

Saturday, 1/21
9:00 am
National Building Museum West Lawn (the building will be closed)
5th St NW between F and G
Metro: Judiciary Square

Check the event Facebook page for more details: http://bit.ly/ArchitectsAtWomensMarch

If you're in the Bay Area a list of inauguration week gatherings can be found here. We'll be out there in solidarity!

National Design as Protest Day

January 17, 2017

Friday, January 20 is Design as Protest, a national day of action with workshops in cities across the country. The New York event is 4-8 at the Center for Architecture. Workshops are also scheduled in in Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland, Davis, Oakland, Kansas City, University of VA, and University of Ill Champaign Urbana.

Open Letter to AIA National following the 2016 presidential election

December 6, 2016 

Dear AIA National,

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) is an independent non-profit organization established in 1981 with the mission of promoting peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities. We are a past winner of the AIA Collaborative Achievement Award and a recognized voice for human rights in architecture.

We were dismayed at AIA’s initial statement after the election of Mr. Trump to the U.S. Presidency. WE attended the AIASF listening session – and have joined in many online discussions in response to the statement. We believe that in addition to the apologies that CEO Ivy and President Davidson have offered, AIA should take action to demonstrate the values foregrounded in the apology statements. Specifically, we recommend:

1. Human Rights. We have a president-elect who is on record in favor of torture. Architects must not abet human rights violations or be suborned into projects counter to health, safety and welfare. AIA National should Adopt ADPSR's proposed Ethics Code Rule to prohibit the design of spaces that will violate human rights and clarify the limits of acceptable practice to professionals and the public. (http://adpsr.org/home/ethics_reform)

2. Discrimination and Harassment. We have emerged from a campaign that vilified muslims, people of color, women LGTB people and other minorities, and actively scapegoated undocumented immigrants in this country. AIA and our professions deeply value diversity and inclusion, but our values are under threat: everyone from firm owners to junior designers may be subject to increased discrimination, harassment, and even threats of deportation. AIA should foreground our values by providing a centralized source of legal advice and support for members and professionals facing deportation, discrimination, or harassment whether as employers, employees, or in other roles, for instance by partnering with organizations such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (www.aila.org) to develop know-your-rights fact sheets, a hotline phone number, and other resources.

3. Sustainability. The majority party of both houses of Congress, the President, and a majority of state Governments refuse to recognize the reality of human-caused climate change, making the prospect for government leadership on sustainability poor even as climate change accelerates and the window to respond to it shrinks. AIA should continue to educate members and the profession about design strategies needed for sustainability, to lobby on behalf of sustainability, and to support stronger energy and green building codes. As a further demonstration of AIA's commitment, AIA should require a minimum level of energy performance for all AIA design awards; the public and the profession will lose faith in AIA if it celebrates buildings that make the climate crisis worse rather than better.

Thank you for your consideration,

Join US Veterans in active support of Standing Rock

November, 30, 2016 - Over 1000 veterans are expected to ‘deploy’ to South Dakota on Dec. 4th to support the water protectors at Standing Rock. This comes at a critical time for our country, and in the ongoing resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. As ADPSR made clear in demanding AIA adopt a human rights Ethics Rule, and the AIA acknowledged, these times demand we are explicit in demarcating what is and is not acceptable in our treatment of each other. The same is true in relation to our treatment of the natural world. If we stand on the sidelines, if we act as if business as usual can continue without this focused attention and action, we are complicit with injustice. These veterans are showing all professionals what solidarity means.

There are many ways to act. ADPSR includes a short list of timely actions below.

If you have not been following the #NoDAPL struggle at Standing Rock this brief timeline goes up to November 20th when protectors were blasted by police with water cannons and rubber bullets in subzero temperatures. On November 26th the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the Standing Rock Protectors that on Dec 5th the Corps would close contested treaty lands on which Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The Corps urged the protectors to move to a “free speech zone” south of the Cannonball river. In a 11/26 statement and in a11/27 press conference, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II and other leaders made it clear that they would not move and would continue their nonviolent action against the pipeline.

The water protectors are asking for support to get the Corps and Obama administration to deny the easement to cross the Missouri River and stop the Dakota Access Pipeline now. It is also time to jam the phones with demands to stop the militarized police response to peaceful protestors.

Timely Actions

1.Sign the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s petition to Obama and the ACLU petition to the DOJ

2.Call or email the DOJ’s “peacemaker”, the Community Relations Service. Request mediation between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, The Army Corps of Engineers & the Morton County police. Frame the excessive use of force against the water protectors as a racial conflict in need of their attention. Email: Askcrs@usdoj.gov or call Federal office: (202) 305-2935, or regional office: (303) 844-2973

3.Take further action as suggested by Sacred Stone Camp such as joining a local solidarity action or calling Sherriff departments to withdraw from Standing Rock.

4.Email nodapl@adpsr.org if interested in working with a small group on industry-specific solidarity efforts.

"If the true concern is for public safety than the Governor should clear the blockade and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings." -Chairman Archambault II

ADPSR Demands Human Rights action in response to AIA Embrace of Trump Administration

November, 14, 2016 - AIA must stand for the wellbeing of the architectural profession, but AIA’s uncritical embrace of the incoming Trump administration calls that into question. Local economies throughout much of the country need revitalization, but we do not believe that kissing up to a litigious billionaire will benefit the majority of architects and designers. A thriving profession requires a country of greater equality and shared prosperity, while deregulation threatens our our ability to deliver quality work and even our professional standing. Trump’s promises to end longstanding environmental protections when a higher standard of care is called for will make the buildings we deliver complicit in abusing our children and grandchildren for the sake of short-term gain. Above all, economic sustainability demands renewed respect for the earth and for all the people of the communities we live in and serve. AIA must immediately commit to protecting human rights as the Trump administration prepares to assume power.

It is not only our nation’s physical infrastructure that needs rebuilding, but after this divisive political campaign our social and political infrastructure needs restoration as well. Our profession has an essential role to play, not only through executing the building projects our country needs – schools, affordable housing, and everything that can reduce our carbon footprint to sustainable levels – but also in demonstrating civil, public-spirited, and inclusive leadership. AIA’s statement of partnership with the incoming administration somehow ignored that the President-elect, as a candidate, focused much of his campaign on threatening the dignity and human rights of women, Muslims, Latin@s, LGBT people, and others around the world, or that his victory once against frustrated the will of the American people through the mechanism of the antiquated electoral college. AIA’s uncritical statement of support for the next administration has been deeply unsettling to many architects, to say the least; AIA must immediately reassure its members and a nervous public that architects will respect human rights, protect our democratic values, and contribute to community economic development as a foundation of our work.

We demand that AIA immediately adopt a human rights Ethics Rule to prohibit member participation in projects intended to violate human rights, because we are deeply concerned that the Trump administration may attempt to suborn members into ethically unacceptable projects, and because members and the public deserve proof of good will after AIA’s tone-deaf promise of support for a threatening administration. This will also help to reassert our profession’s independence in civil society and our value to our local communities. With Mr. Trump’s authoritarian tone and his personal history of flouting the law (even refusing to pay AIA members for past work), we must also be cautious of threats to our democracy, and a renewed human rights commitment will do what our profession can to inoculate U.S. civil society more broadly against future abuse. Our profession can achieve great things, and we can work with a Trump administration, but we can only do so on our terms, rather than on his, as a profession devoted to design for the public good.

ADPSR stands with Standing Rock, and calls on all designers to join us

November, 2016 - 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

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.

...read more on our blog

ADPSR Thanks AIA for Reconsidering Human Rights

February, 2016 - 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!

Media Responds to Ethics Campaign

February 16, 2015 — Michael Kimmelman, chief architecture critic of the New York Times covers AIA's rejection of ADPSR's proposal to amend the AIA Code of Ethics in his article, "Prison Architecture and the Question of Ethics."

Other Recent Media Response

AIA says No to Human Rights

December 11, 2014 — AIA has rejected ADPSR's proposal to amend their Code of Ethics to prohibit the design of spaces intended for human rights violations, including execution and prolonged solitary confinement. We are deeply saddened and shocked that a professional association that claims to maintain the highest standards of ethics would permit members to participate in torture and killing. Read AIA's letter (with ADPSR's annotations) here. An un-annotated version is available here. ADPSR President Raphael Sperry's Op-Ed in response can be found here. ADPSR's media alert and response can be found here.