Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia
Cat Piper and WAI Architecture Think Tank Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia

The following is an Aug. 4 press release from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture naming Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski, founders of WAI Architecture Think Tank in Ames, Iowa, the recipients of its inaugural Faculty Fellowship to Advance Equity. You can read more about WAI Architecture Think Tank here, and read "Everyone Wants to Be a Savior—Without Giving Up Power," Cruz Garcia's opinion piece for ARCHITECT's One Year Later series.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) announced the awarding of its first Faculty Fellowship to Advance Equity in Architecture to Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski of WAI Architecture Think Tank. The educators, who are also associate professors in the Iowa State University College of Design, will use the $80,000 in funding to extend the impact of ACSA’s work on racial equity and climate action through public programming, outreach, and partnerships.

Among their projects during the 12-month fellowship are creating a website with articles and links to organizations and programming on social and ecological justice. Garcia and Frankowski will also organize a lecture series to be held at ACSA member schools during the 2023-24 academic year. The presentations will be recorded and published through their fellowship website and ACSA’s YouTube channel. Finally, the fellows will create a newspaper-style publication that will supplement and document the many initiatives, scholarship, and events taking place during the fellowship.

“At a critical moment when important and necessary scholarship addressing the roots and lingering legacy of social and ecological injustice are being threatened, we hope to help display how forms of knowledge at the intersection of race, caste, class, displacement, access, (dis)ability, gender, ecology, and technology are central to architecture and its education,” Frankowski and Garcia said. “With the support of ACSA and working closely with collectives, academic institutions, activists, publishers, editorial boards, practitioners, and scholars, we strive to develop resources and programming that reinforce ongoing initiatives while creating new platforms and media centered on anti-racism, ecological justice, and a public literacy of the ramifications (effects and possibilities) of the built and destroyed environment,”

The Fellowship to Advance Equity in Architecture emerged during ACSA’s strategic planning discussions in 2021-22. “Many of our existing programs curate content related to equity, social justice, and climate action within architectural education,” Mo Zell, AIA, president of the ACSA said. “But too often this work would sit quietly after the conference or after the design awards were given. We sought a partner to help share the great work that our members are doing to advance social justice and climate action.”

ACSA held an open call for applications for the fellowship, the first in its history, receiving nearly two dozen applications. A committee of ACSA board of directors members reviewed the applications and interviewed prospective candidates.

“We were impressed with the previous work that WAI Architecture Think Tank has done, including their publication A Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education,” President Zell said. “We look forward to an even wider audience for our members’ work on improving equity in architectural education and enabling more impactful work to mitigate the effects of climate change.”