An Update on the AIA Virginia J.E.D.I. Committee

Since its inception in September 2020, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee has been dedicated to creating a more equitable architecture profession throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our efforts acknowledge the grave disparities that marginalized identities face and aims to provide opportunities for education, programming, and advocacy. This work serves everyone. To date the committee has 4 main areas of focus:

Education: Education and training serve as the foundational for the work happening in firms and architectural schools across the country. It is important to have a shared language and a common understanding of the history and systems at play in American society. That being said, the committee will provide opportunities to learn about the value of diversity, the obstacles facing historically underrepresented populations, and ways to combat the many forms of bias, bigotry and exclusion in the discipline. Moreover, it is our hope that architecture firms take that knowledge and begin implementing equitable practices that respond to the systemic barriers to entry and retention in the profession.

Acknowledgment: Already underway, the committee has proposed ways to honor firms and individuals that champion equity through their exemplary civic engagement and/or their proven record of policies and procedures that expand inclusion and reallocate resources to underrepresented people.

Advocating: Inherent in the work of any committee focused on equity is a duty to advocate. Our planned advocacy can take place in many forms. It can manifest as a public statement of support for climate action and environmental justice or as a conversation with elected officials in support of specific legislation. As we continue to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, it is important for us to give voice to those who have not always had a seat at the table and this is where programming comes in.

Programming: In this initial year, the committee aims to create opportunities for dialogue between disparate groups with the hope of gaining more understanding and developing some shared values. In addition to original content, the committee plans to promote and circulate webinars, programs, and services offered by other components, organizations, and agencies.

As I said before, this work serves everyone. It extends far beyond the reach of the committee and the architecture discipline at large. In the words of the late John Lewis, I hope that you will join us in our efforts to get into some “good trouble” this year.

Kendall A. Nicholson, EdD, Assoc. AIA, NOMA
member of the AIA Virginia J.E.D.I. Committee

Equity in Architecture Recommendations

In late 2015, the American Institute of Architects issued a call to action for the profession. After 14 months of work, the AIA Equity in Architecture Commission released a report with its recommendations for expanding and strengthening the profession’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in every practice.

The Commission and its goals were products of AIA’s 2015 Resolution 15-1: Equity in Architecture. That resolution was born from yet an earlier industry-wide initiative, in 2014. Architectural organizations had come together then to address the concern of architects about a disproportionate mix among the profession’s members.

What emerged from that 2014 effort was a study, Diversity in the Profession of Architecture. It examined the impact of demographics on success in the field. The intent was to create greater urgency surrounding the need for a profession that more accurately reflected the varied faces of our nation.

There has been progress in achieving that goal in past years, but there is still much work to be done. Equity, diversity, and inclusion is a priority of the American Institute of Architects. The Institute believes the need to foster a more inclusive workforce is both a professional and societal imperative.

The AIA Equity in Architecture Commission, a blue-ribbon panel of leading architects, educators, and diversity experts, was formed to meet those challenges. Following is a summary of the five “keystone” areas of focus it identified and within those areas the 11 priority recommendations, or action items, that it selected for implementation over the next three years.

Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA
Chair, Equity in Architecture Commission

View the recommendations>>

Virginia Women Featured in Women in Architecture Dinner

Valerie Hassett, Secretary of the Society, is organizing a presentation during the Women in Architecture dinner at the upcoming national convention. The presentation, moderated by Mary Cox, FAIA, will look back at the past 25 years of women in architecture in Virginia.

The Women in Architecture Dinner, sponsored by AIA Diversity and Inclusion, honors the roles women play within the architecture profession and provides a platform to network and engage architects, interns, and architecture students from across the nation. The featured panel, Dina Griffin, AIA, and Suman Sorg, FAIA, will share their professional work, experiences, and greater issues of power, perspective, and success in architecture. All are welcome, and men are encouraged to attend.

Find out more information or register.