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A letter from AF President James Walbridge, AIA

2020: For most us, the most transformational year of our lives. Everything has changed across all boundaries and all borders. Nothing will be the same; changes are occurring at a dizzying pace.

While the complete disruption of our lives has taken its toll, the Architects Foundation finds itself in a unique position – our purpose could not be more relevant than it is right now. The tragedy of George Floyd and many others after has cemented clearly upon us that 401 years of systemic racism and structural inequality cannot be “unseen” anymore. We are all on a new journey together, with compassion and empathy our shepherds, to make real societal change.

We are grateful for our relationship with The American Institute of Architects. While our voices are unique to our respective missions, together we are even more courageous to forge a path we know is right.

Our Architects Foundation board and staff are united, resolute and committed to being bold. We understand where we have been and where we need to be, and we have much to do. Our charge is clear, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) is our watchword. Our actions will be precise and focused as we continue to broaden our scholarships and magnify our fundraising efforts. The Octagon has evolved in its delegation and will serve as both teacher and convener. Its history will be told with transparency and radical candor to learn from its past and support an expanded conversation for the future of the profession.

Our scholars are at the center of the Foundation’s narrative. Their collective voices are the engine placing us in the forefront of possibilities – they are the future. We aspire to be the social proof needed in this new discourse, leading by example and action, to bring about the change we cannot delay any longer.

We thank you for your continued support and invite you to join us as we create a culture of philanthropy for the future.

Society’s Cage Installation Opens on the National Mall

Washington, DC – Today the Society’s Cage interpretive installation opens to the public on the National Mall in Washington, DC. SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading integrated design firms, is the lead sponsor for the project, initiated by a diverse team of designers in their Washington, DC office. The installation’s opening is timed to coincide with the March on Washington, organized by the National Action Network, happening today.

“We were inspired to create the installation following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” explains Dayton Schroeter, lead designer and a principal at SmithGroup. “The pavilion is a real and raw reflection of the conversations about racism happening now. It’s a physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.”

The designers intend for the installation to place the recent victims killed by police in the context of the 400+ year continuum of racialized state violence in the United States. Weathered steel bars hanging from a steel plate ceiling form a perfect cube atop a raised 15-foot square platform, encircled with educational content around its base. Historical data for four primary institutional forces of racism are expressed on the cube’s perimeter and triangulated within the interior, carving a void into which visitors can enter. Within this void the visitor experiences clashing senses, feeling both the figurative weight of oppression from the bars around and above them, while also being enveloped in an open-air sanctuary for reflection.

“The name Society’s Cage refers to the societal constraints that limit the prosperity of the Black community,” says Julian Arrington, who led the design with Schroeter, and is an architectural designer at SmithGroup. “The pavilion creates an experience to help visitors understand and acknowledge these impacts of racism and be moved to create change.”

Visitors are encouraged to participate in a shared experience upon entering the pavilion. After holding their breath for as long as they can, evoking the common plea among victims of police killings, “I can’t breathe,” visitors then post a video reflection of their experience on social media using the hashtag #SocietysCage. This exercise is meant not only to build empathy but expand the installation’s impact online to allow anyone to participate in this shared exercise.

The pavilion was fabricated by Gronning Design + Manufacturing LLC in Washington, DC, and Mejia Ironworks in Hyattsville, Maryland. A soundscape was commissioned from a pair of composers, Raney Antoine, Jr. and Lovell “U-P” Cooper. Comprised of four pieces, each 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length in recognition of the time George Floyd suffered under the knee of police, they are themed to reflect each of the four institutional forces that sculpted the pavilion’s interior (mass incarceration, police terrorism, capital punishment and racist lynchings).

SmithGroup has partnered with the Architects Foundation to raise funds for their Diversity Advancement scholarship program through the installation.

“The tragedies of George Floyd and many others have cemented clearly upon us that centuries of systemic racism and structural inequality cannot be ‘unseen’ anymore,” said James Walbridge, AIA, Foundation President. “We are all on a new journey together, with compassion and empathy as our shepherds, to make real societal change. Society’s Cage is a timely partnership for us.”

Corporate sponsors include Advanced Thermal Solutions, LLCBonstra|Haresign ArchitectsD|Watts Construction, LLCHerrero BuildersKohler; and The Center for Racial Equity and Justice. In-kind donors include Silman and Alan Karchmer Photography. Over 150 individuals have also contributed financial support to the project. Donations continue to be accepted through the Architects Foundation’s portal.

The pavilion will remain on display until September 12, 2020, and then is intended to be exhibited in a new location in the Washington metro region, and eventually tour to other cities across the country.

The Architects Foundation (www.architectsfoundation.org) leads philanthropic efforts to attract, inspire, and invest in a next-generation design community through scholarships and exhibitions. The Architects Foundation owns the historic Octagon building in the nation’s capital, activating the space to demonstrate the value architects and architecture bring to culture.

SmithGroup (www.smithgroup.com) is one of the world’s preeminent integrated design firms. Working across a network of 15 offices in the U.S. and China, a team of 1,300 experts is committed to excellence in strategy, design, and delivery. The scale of the firm’s thinking and organization produces partnerships with forward-looking clients that maximize opportunities, minimize risk and solve their most complex problems. SmithGroup creates exceptional design solutions for healthcare, science and technology organizations, higher education and cultural institutions, urban environments, diverse workplaces, mixed-use and waterfront developments, and parks and open spaces.

The Unbuilt Crosby Arboretum and the Legacy of E. Fay Jones

This virtual discussion explores the work by Hans Herrmann, AIA and students to create physical and virtual reality models of four unrealized E. Fay Jones buildings at the Crosby Arboretum, buildings intended to accompany the iconic Pinecote Pavilion completed in 1985.

The Unbuilt Crosby Arboretum is the only known E. Fay Jones multi-building composition/campus. Robert Ivy, FAIA, AIA CEO and biographer on E. Fay Jones highlights how Jones’ work is deeply rooted to place and nature. Jones received the AIA Gold Medal in 1990, the Institute’s highest honor.

Watch the panel >

Panelists:
Hans C. Herrmann, AIA, LEED Green Assoc., NCARB, Associate Professor of Architecture at Mississippi State University

Robert A. Ivy, FAIA, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Moderator:
George Smart, founder of USModernist.org and host of USModernist Radio

2020 Architects Foundation Scholars Selected

Scholarships recognize and support diverse future leaders of the profession in equity, practice management, sustainability, and global practice

WASHINGTON – The Architects Foundation today announced the recipients for five of its scholarship programs that support future leaders of the profession in equity, diversity, global practice, and sustainability.

The Architects Foundation is continuing to support the future of the architecture profession by recognizing and supporting scholars through an ever-expanding scholarship and grant program offering. Programs listed below represent the latest recipients of the Architects Foundation’s scholarship and grant programs.

2020 Diversity Advancement Scholarship
The Architects Foundation is continuing to support diversity in the architecture profession by awarding its Diversity Advancement Scholarship to 6 students entering architecture school.  Each of the students will receive $4,000 per year towards tuition for the next five years totaling $20,000 each. This year’s recipients are:

2020 Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Academic Scholarship
The Architects Foundation is awarding the 2020 Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Academic Scholarship to Allexxus Farley-Thomas. Farley-Thomas, a student at Cornell University, will receive a $10,000 scholarship intended to support the education of women in architecture. She will also be mentored by an architect at Payette for the scholarship year. Farley-Thomas is the fifth recipient of the scholarship, which honors late architect Sho-Ping Chin, FAIA, a long-time principal at Payette and a healthcare practice leader who was instrumental in defining and elevating the national discourse for women in design.

2020 a/e ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA Scholarship
The Architects Foundation is awarding the 2020 a/e ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA Scholarship to Trey Hammond, University of Oklahoma, and Xinyuan Ma, Carnegie Mellon University. Each will receive $5,000 to be used towards tuition for demonstrating a strong interest in practice and risk management. The scholarship honors David W. Lakamp, who was a founder of a/e ProNet and a trusted advisor to the profession of architecture.

2020 Yann Weymouth Graduate Scholarship
The Architects Foundation is awarding the 2020 Yann Weymouth Graduate Scholarship to Michael Paraszczak. Paraszczak, a student at Cornell University, will receive a $5,000 scholarship towards tuition for demonstrating an exemplary work focus at design that includes sustainability, resilience, wellness, and beauty. The scholarship honors practicing architect Yann Weymouth, AIA, who will also mentor Paraszczak.

2020 McAslan Fellowship
The Architects Foundation is awarding the 2020 McAslan Fellowship to Michael Lidwin, University of Tennessee and Melissa Smith, University of Kansas. The scholarship supports research and travel experiences for two top graduating students to engage with UK-based firm McAslan+Partners.

Donate to the Architects Foundation >

Architects Foundation Board statement on The Octagon

The staff and board of the Architects Foundation, owner of The Octagon, want to share the AIA Board statement on systemic racial injustice. As the philanthropic partner of AIA, we agree that systemic racial injustice in any form, whether it be police brutality, employment discrimination, or any other efforts to marginalize people of color, is appalling and cannot be allowed to continue.

We recognize The Octagon symbolizes wealth generated at the expense of enslaved African Americans. We believe it is important to listen, learn and move forward, together. We acknowledge that as a cultural institution, The Octagon has an important role to play in challenging historic oppression through our collection, interpretative efforts, visiting exhibits, and our unique partnership with the AIA to convey the role architects can play in creating a more just and equal society.

The 2020 Architects Foundation Board of Directors
James Walbridge, AIA, President
R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, Vice President
Carole Wedge, FAIA, Treasurer
Bill Roschen, FAIA, Secretary
Ken Higa, AIA
Dan Kirby, FAIA
Constance Lai, FAIA
Sharon Liebowitz
Thomas Luebke, FAIA
Katherine Malone-France
Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA

Architects Foundation Board statement on systemic racial injustice

We at the Architects Foundation echo the sentiments of the AIA Board regarding systemic racial injustice. We agree that systemic racial injustice in any form, whether it be police brutality, employment discrimination, or any other efforts to marginalize people of color is appalling and cannot be allowed to continue. Now more than ever, we are proud of our role in supporting a diverse next-generation of architects to use their problem-solving skills to advance justice and equality for all people.

The 2020 Architects Foundation Board of Directors
James Walbridge, AIA, President
R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, Vice President
Carole Wedge, FAIA, Treasurer
Bill Roschen, FAIA, Secretary
Ken Higa, AIA
Dan Kirby, FAIA
Constance Lai, FAIA
Sharon Liebowitz
Thomas Luebke, FAIA
Katherine Malone-France
Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA

2020 Grad Series: Robert Moy

Congratulations to our 2020 graduates! Read the fourth installment of our series from our 2014 Diversity Advancement Scholar, Robert Moy.

Robert Moy

I first entered architecture school as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Fall semester of 2014. From 2014 to early 2017, I was involved in a student organization named Illinois Solar Decathlon where I worked extensively on the design and construction documentation of three separate net-zero energy housing projects for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Race to Zero Student Design Competition. These three projects conducted over the course of three years aimed to implement innovative sustainable design features and strategies in order to design an aesthetically appealing and marketable net-zero energy home. I had the privilege of serving as the lead project manager from 2016 to 2017, where I honed my leadership skills and worked closely with students from diverse education backgrounds, ranging from architecture to civil engineering and mechanical engineering. In April of 2017, our team traveled to Golden, Colorado to compete in the 2017 Race to Zero Design Competition held at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). My work in Illinois Solar Decathlon has fostered my appreciation for and deepened my fascination into sustainable buildings.

Upon graduating from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s of Science in Architectural Studies (B.S.A.S.) degree in 2018, I moved to Milwaukee, WI to pursue my Masters of Architecture (M.Arch) at the School of Architecture & Urban Planning (SARUP) at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. During the two years at SARUP, I was a Teaching Assistant for the undergraduate architectural systems courses, teaching content such as HVAC, building envelopes and structural systems. The position was a perfect fit as I had extensive undergraduate coursework in building mechanical and structural systems during my time at the University of Illinois. Being a TA proved to be a very rewarding and wonderful experience. I worked directly with the undergraduate students, explaining assignments, reinforcing lecture concepts and offering feedback on student work. But by far the most rewarding experience was listening to their viewpoints on architecture and design and appreciating the diverse array of perspectives they bring to the table.

During my graduate studies at SARUP, I focused on Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse as my degree concentration. I had the unique opportunity to conduct 3D laser scanning on several historic buildings in the Milwaukee area and create existing drawings for the National Park Service’s Historic American Building Survey (HABS) program, as well as develop a net-zero retrofit proposal for my University’s Architecture building. My Masters’ Thesis project focused on the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of a 20th century warehouse building in Milwaukee.

As all of us have experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our way of life drastically in a blink of an eye. All courses – lectures, seminars and design studios – were abruptly moved entirely online for the remaining 2 months of the Spring 2020 semester. The faculty, including the TA’s such as myself, were forced to quickly adapt and transition our courses to the online format. The pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the overall educational experience for everyone, but despite the circumstances, I was able to finish my M.Arch degree in May 2020 with high distinction.

Learn more about the Diversity Advancement Scholarship >

2020 Grad Series: Shannar O’Connor

Congratulations to our 2020 graduates! Read the the third installment of our series from our 2016 Diversity Advancement Scholar, Shannar O’Connor.

Shannar O'ConnorThe past five years of architecture school have been the most transformative years of my life. I had many hardships, but also a plethora of rewarding experiences. From the beginning, the odds were never in my favor, being that I am a black woman from a single parent, immigrant family. However, my hard work, determination, and aid from scholarships, such as the Architects Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholarship, The Villagers Preservation Scholarship, and the Colin MacDonald Betsch Memorial Award, helped me to accomplish one of my major life goals—graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.Arch degree from my dream university (the University of Miami). Furthermore, much of my success could also be attributed to the people who believed in me along the way: My high school counselor, who was and is there for me whenever my self-confidence wavers; my college advisor, whose persistence made it financially possible for me to attend the University of Miami (after I had already committed to another university); the professors that believed in me and my abilities; the principal at my 2018 Summer internship with Harrison Design (Naples, FL), who helped further my knowledge of residential architecture; my supervisor at my 2020 Spring internship with Stantec (Miami, FL), who saw potential in me as an interior designer and gave me the chance to shine by encouraging me and giving me great responsibilities; and most of all, my mom, who is my best friend and my rock.

Some of the college courses that have molded me into the designer that I am today, include my minor in art, the furniture design and design/build studio courses that I was able to take, and the upper-level studio courses that pushed me to think outside of the box. However, my most rewarding and eye-opening college experience was my semester studying abroad in Rome, Italy. I had never felt more at home in a foreign country. The people were so welcoming, the culture was fascinating, and the architecture was awe-inspiring. Also, because of the nature of the program, I got to travel all over the country, learn a great deal about Italy’s rich cultural history, try water coloring for the first time, and build life-long bonds with my peers and professors, who are now affectionately known as “mi piccola famiglia” or my small family. This experience taught me the importance of travel and inter-cultural exploration, as well as, helped me to discover my passion for interior architecture/ design.

Now that I have graduated, my goal is to gain more experience in the interior architecture/ design field and then in the future, start my own design firm, specializing in interiors, furniture design, and product design. Since being back home, due to the pandemic, I have had plenty of time to reflect on the past five years of architecture school and the biggest lesson that this education has taught me, is how to creatively problem solve. This lesson is not only going to aid me in my career as a designer, but also in life.

Learn more about the Diversity Advancement Scholarship >