The winners of the 2022 AIA Associates Award--Julian T. Owens, Emily McGee, Jennifer Peeler Truman--are using their platforms to highlight systemic issues in the architecture profession and working to develop collaborative solutions. Here they are in their own words.
Jacobs, Arlington, Va.
National Parliamentarian, National Organization of Minority Architects;
“When I think of the major challenges of today, such as climate change, racial inequities in the built environment, the erection of private prisons, and more, what stands out is that most issues aren’t recent. So, to me, it’s less about adapting to today’s challenges as architects and designers and more about intentionally learning and gaining an understanding of the history of the challenges different communities face today. Tap into the experts, both in and out of the field. Build relationships with and learn from communities and individuals who have lived through these challenges. Time dedicated to research is not a given at every firm, but it absolutely should be. Imagine a field where we all take the time to do the research and use our skill set to tackle larger societal challenges that extend past our immediate environments. That’s powerful.”
HOK, Washington, D.C.
“Crises have long been catalysts for societal and architectural change. This has been at the forefront of my mind with recent events—COVID-19, social injustice, climate change, political upheaval, war—and from my experiences volunteering on archaeological sites in Turkey. As a surveyor and site architect on these digs, I am constantly reminded of impermanence. Nothing lasts forever. That can be comforting or disconcerting, depending on your perspective. Ruin is transformative, and its temporal nature demands us to re-examine our narratives and build in ways that relate deeper to each other and the environment. As a healthcare designer and optimist, I view these challenges of today as an opportunity to improve and adapt our mindset to foster greater healing or lasting impact through architecture.”
Matthew Konar Architect, Durham, N.C.
“Architecture is an evolving profession. Each younger generation of architects is increasingly diverse, cross-disciplinary, and aware of the systemic issues in which architecture can either perpetuate or catalyze positive change. For me, it’s critical that, as a profession, we capitalize on the voices and perspectives shared by emerging professionals. The energy and ambition to work on solutions for issues such as climate change, affordable housing, and discriminatory zoning exist within architecture. Too often, however, architects have been left out, or excluded themselves, from these cross-disciplinary conversations. That’s where I believe we have the most need to adapt and reinvent our profession. Architects need to step forward, speak up, and be leaders in solving today’s challenges. Architects need to ground our work in advocacy.”
This article appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of ARCHITECT.