The National Organization of Minority Architects and the American Institute of Architects' Large Firm Roundtable have issued the following statement and letters strengthening their partnership and their support of taking action to combat systemic racism in architecture.
To The Architectural Community:
Now more than ever, it is vital that we stand together to combat the insidious impact of racism in our profession. Not only does racism harm our Black colleagues, it compromises our collective ability to protect the healthy, safety and welfare of the public. The time for change is now.
In the attached letter from the American Institute of Architect's Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) to the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), there is language underscoring LFRT's commitment to supporting NOMA in addressing the negative impact of cultural and racial bias in the profession. We want to be clear that this is not hollow language or lip service, it is a true commitment to facilitate a stronger working relationship between LFRT firms and NOMA to transform our profession for the benefit of all.
LFRT and NOMA have been working together since 2017 and we believe that our partnership is well positioned in this watershed moment to build upon existing efforts to expand financial support, capacity building and mutual understanding. Founded in 1984, LFRT members represent the 60 largest architecture firms in North America. NOMA was founded in 1971 and includes the voices of more than 1,000 diverse professional and student members in more than 100 chapters.
With LFRT's support, NOMA was able to offer 25 student members paid internships this summer, through a five-year financial commitment for the new NOMA Foundation Fellowship program. This is the first initiative to launch since we agreed on the 2030 Diversity Challenge, which calls for us to grow the number of licensed Black architects from 2,300 to 5,000 by 2030, increasing representation from a mere 2% to roughly 4% Black licensed architects. While that still falls short of the 14% Black population in the U.S., it is a tremendous step forward. We are actively working on ways to break down barriers and build greater access to opportunity in our profession. We encourage each of you to consider large and small ways that you can be part of the solution to our shared problem of racial inequity in architecture.
Together, we can design a better future. The LFRT + NOMA partnership exemplifies what is possible when we collaborate to create positive change.
Kimberly Dowdell, NOMA President & Carole Wedge, AIA LFRT Chair
June 9 Letter From the American Institute of Architects' Large Firm Roundtable:
Dear NOMA members,
Today, at a time that will be known as a pivotal moment in our country’s history, the AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) members affirm our alliance with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). We commit to continue to work in partnership with NOMA to create meaningful change, equitable work environments and systems to realize our core values of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We are partners with NOMA committed to changing the racial face of architecture.
We have witnessed the horrific murder of George Floyd, as the most recent travesty of a person of color at the hands of authorities. We’ve watched as systemic racism was used as a tool to fabricate and allege a crime against Christian Cooper. We’ve experienced pain, disgust, anger and unrest. We’ve experienced devastation and disruption – some from a distance and some right outside of our doors. We are encouraged by the coming together of diverse groups of people to protest and combat violence, hate, and the abuse of power that impacts our communities of color first and most significantly.
We are taking a stand with NOMA to drive change that achieves racial justice and a better future - for all. We will start, in partnership with NOMA, local NOMA chapters and the communities we serve, by offering help and support to those who are most impacted by the tragedies of the past weeks and committing to working together to dismantle the structural inequities that exist in our firms, our communities and in our work.
The AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) members consists of 60 of North America’s largest design firms, who lead more than 100,000 design professionals committed to making a difference. Our firms have been working to bring greater intention to the recruitment of minority design professionals, with a deeper focus on graduates from the HBCU institutions, with whom we’ve developed working partnerships. We are committed to creating a design profession that mirrors the diverse voices of the very communities we serve.
Equal rights for people of color, the healing of our nation, our communities, and our relationships needs to start now. With a commitment to empathy, a willingness to listen, learn and hold open dialogue, and the passion of our diverse creative colleagues, we can and will make a difference together.
The AIA Large Firm Round Table Members
AECOM, Ayers / Saint / Gross, Beck, BIG, BWBR Architects, Inc., Callison RTKL Inc, Cannon Design, CBT, Clark Nexsen, Cooper Carry Inc., Corgan, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., DLR Group, EYP, Ennead Architects LLP, EwingCole, Flad Architects, FreemanWhite, Inc., FXCollaborative, Gensler, Gould Evans, Inc., Gresham Smith, Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA), HDR Architecture, Inc., HED, HKS, Inc., HLW International LLP, HMC Architects, HNTB Architecture, HOK Group, Inc., Hord Coplan Macht, Huckabee, Huitt-Zollars, Jacobs Global Buildings, JLG Architects, Kirksey Architecture, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, P.C., KTGY Group, Inc., Leo A Daly, Little, LPA, LS3P, MG2, Moody Nolan, NBBJ, NELSON, Page, Inc., Perkins + Will, Perkins Eastman Architects, PC, Populous Group, LLC, Quinn Evans, RAMSA, RS&H, Shepley Bulfinch, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, SmithGroup, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Stantec Architecture, tvsdesign (tvs), WATG, Woods Bagot, ZGF Architects, LLP
June 11 Response from NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell:
NOMA is proud to announce an incredibly important development in our relationship with the AIA Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT). After several years of building a strong partnership of support and collaboration, we are delighted to share that LFRT has decided to expand their commitment to NOMA in a major way.
Communicated this week in a heartfelt open letter to NOMA, LFRT expressed a sincere desire to lead our profession in the important effort to foster greater diversity, inclusion and belonging. Representing the 60 largest architecture firms in North America, LFRT CEOs are well positioned to drive the changes that are so critical to the future of our profession. We firmly believe that architecture is one of the most noble and exhilarating vocations that a person can pursue. The idea that this field is now in a position to open up and better reflect the society that it serves is something that NOMA's founders probably couldn't have imagined 50 years ago. The time for change is now and we are the one's who we've been waiting for all of these years.
The words and commitments contained in LFRT's letter are incredibly powerful and so deeply needed - especially now. The AIA LFRT has taken a tremendous step towards progress along the lines of racial equity and NOMA is thrilled to work closely with the leaders of our largest firms to build a better world or ALL.
Over the past several years, LFRT has funded our NOMA student programming and given us invaluable advice on a variety of subjects critical to our operations. NOMA is excited to do more with enhanced resources.
Many thanks to the CEOs of LFRT for being B.R.A.V.E.! Special thanks to LFRT Chair, Carole Wedge, and EDI Task Force leaders Tim Dufault and Tony Rohr for your extraordinary support.
I encourage everyone from small firms to large firms, students and those from alternative career paths to take note of this letter. We are truly in a historic moment in our profession and NOMA is privileged to partner with LFRT to make a difference together.
Kimberly Dowdell2019-2020 NOMA National President