Among the most memorable moments for me during AIA’s 2023 Conference on Architecture was presenting the Gold Medal to Carol Ross Barney, FAIA.
Why? Because Carol is the first living individual female recipient of this highly prestigious and storied award in its 116-year history. Prior to Carol, there were only three other female winners—in 2022 Angela Brooks was awarded the medal with partner Lawrence Scarpa, and in 2016 it was awarded to Denise Scott Brown with Robert Venturi. In 2014, it was awarded posthumously to Julia Morgan.
During the ceremony, Carol said, “I am completely confident that I won’t be alone very long. There will be many more.”
As I heard her words and witnessed Carol receive a much-deserved standing ovation from the 6,500-member audience, I couldn’t help but think about the careers of women architects and reflect on my own experiences—as well as those of my mentors and peers. If our contributions and successes are to be valued equally by the profession and society, we must continue to champion change.
Although there are hundreds of ways to advocate for change, AIA has a proven roadmap, allowing any and all of us to get involved. AIA’s Guides for Equitable Practice are a key effort in AIA’s commitment to advancing and promoting diversity and inclusion in the profession.
I consider my work leading the 14-month development of these guides as among my most impactful work to date. The centering theme of the guides is that each of us holds multifaceted identities, which are critical to intercultural competence and fostering a sense of belonging.
This year, we’ve elevated and celebrated women and diverse voices in the profession with the Future Focused weekly video series released every Friday.
The guides and videos are just the start. Data shows that racial and ethnic diversity significantly decrease from academia to practice. If we want to grow a diverse pipeline of architects and want our firms to be profitable and successful, we must address the reasons for this drop.
I share the belief that everyone, regardless of gender, racial, ethnic, or other differences has a place and an opportunity in this profession—and Carol’s confidence that she won’t be the only living Gold Medal winner for very long.