Implementing the Guides for Equitable Practice

The AIA Guides for Equitable Practice make the moral, business, ethical, and societal cases for equitable practice in the profession of architecture. They provide key insights to hear insights on how the guides can change firm culture and create an environment that nurtures retention and inspires limitless thinking. In this course, participants will discover recommendations on how to achieve goals found within the Guides through utilization in practice and as a resource in connecting these goals with the work of their firm/organization.

1 LU | Elective

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Download the Guides for Equitable Practice

Learning objectives

  • Explain why goals and motivations play an important role in equity, diversity, and inclusion work.
  • Compare and contrast equity as an input with diversity as an output
  • Utilize the AIA Guides as a resource by using a variety of strategies to engage the material
  • Navigate through multiple AIA Guides to better understand a single complex issue
  • Connect the work of their firm with goals or prompts in the Guides

The presenter

Renée Cheng, FAIA

Renée Cheng was named dean of the College of Built Environments in January 2019. Previously, Cheng served as head of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota.

Cheng is a leader in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and advocates for equity in the field of architecture and in the practices related to the built environment. Recently, Cheng led the research effort for the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice.

Known for her pedagogical skill in designing classes and programs that empower students and integrate practice with academia, Cheng has twice won the AIA Practice Leadership Award. She has been named one of the top 25 most admired design educators in the U.S. by DesignIntelligence and an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows.

A licensed architect, her professional experience includes work for Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners and Richard Meier and Partners before founding Cheng-Olson Design.

AIA Virginia Statement Addressing Social Injustice

Architecture is for everyone. AIA Virginia commits to making this goal a reality. As an organization, we stand beside the people groups who have been excluded for far too long. We commit to fostering a sense of belonging for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, LGBTQIA+, women, and people with diverse abilities. We stand with components and chapters across the nation supporting the rights of many, over the privileged few.

We recognize the treacherous history of Virginia. A place where the most prominent rivers brought enslaved Africans in 1619. A place where the mountains uplift the power and privilege of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. A place where the coastal wetlands support an ecosystem of wildlife once navigated by thousands of Native peoples. A place where the booming agriculture industry reminds us of the prominence of plantations. A place where Loving did not always come without challenge. As Virginians, we cannot be silent.

Our goal is that architecture becomes a discipline that applies an equitable lens to create communities across the state. Said plainly, architecture should strategically design spaces that reallocate resources based on history and systems. Architecture can only be for everyone if we as architects are committed to making it happen.

Created by the AIA Virginia J.E.D.I. Committee and Approved by the AIA Virginia Board of Directors, December 2021.

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

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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.