ISPA Conference & Expo
ISPA Conference & Expo
ISPA Conference & Expo

Opinion

The good news on diversity

Architecture’s issues with gender equality and diversity are under the spotlight like never before


Today’s society is more diverse than it’s ever been. So why isn’t this being reflected within the profession? Why are women so badly represented, particularly at senior levels?

A recent survey by Dezeen found that of the top 100 architecture firms worldwide, just three were led by women. A 2015 study by the American Institute of Architects entitled Diversity in the Profession of Architecture found that a high percentage of women and people of colour working in the profession felt that they were less likely to receive equal pay and be promoted to more senior positions than men and white architects.

It’s not all bad news though. Things are beginning to change. There’s a growing recognition that the profession must reflect the communities it is designing for, and an increasing number of architectural practices and the bodies that represent them are tackling the issue head on.

Honest conversations
For this issue, I interviewed Gabrielle Bullock, head of diversity at Perkins+Will. As one of 0.2 per cent of female, black licensed architects in the US, Bullock was determined to use her senior position to improve diversity within the firm, and to raise awareness of the issue in the profession more widely.

When Perkins+Will’s Global Diversity Initiative launched, the first thing Bullock did was visit every one of the firm’s US offces, having “sometimes uncomfortable” conversations about diversity. This is where Bullock advised other firms to start. “This is scaleable,” she said. “Any size fi rm can do it.”

The findings from these conversations helped shape Perkins+Will’s initiative, with a range of measures put in place to help boost diversity which Bullock says are having a quantifiable effect.

Architecture has historically been a white, male profession, and for many students of colour, it was never considered as a viable career choice. Bullock said: “I didn’t see any black architects [growing up].”

Her advice to other practices is to: “Go into those schools. Send people who look like the students you’re trying to reach.”

In the US, designer Mike Ford – the self styled ‘hip hop architect’ – runs a series of free travelling architecture camps using hip hop culture as a catalyst to introduce underrepresented young people to architecture. Ford teamed up with Autodesk and the Urban Arts Collective to create these camps, which will be travelling to 17 US cities, as well as to Kenya and Toronto, this summer.

Taking the initiative “These camps are important, because it’s a new approach to diversifying the profession which is culturally relevant to the audience we’re trying to reach,” Ford told CLAD.

Jeanne Gang, founder of Chicago-based Studio Gang, recently told me that the firm voluntarily closed its pay gap this year.

“Our workforce is roughly 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women,” said Gang. “There was still a small imbalance in pay between our male and female employees, so we looked at that and managed to close the gap this year.” This is something she hopes more firms will take it upon themselves to do voluntarily, she added.

The business case
The bodies that represent designers and architects are making this issue a priority, with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) among those seeking creative ways of supporting and encouraging a more diverse workforce.

It’s not just about doing the right thing. Bullock pointed out that there’s a strong business case for a more diverse workplace, and explained that Perkins+Will have won new projects as a result of having a diverse team bidding (see p56 for more details).

Bringing about change doesn’t have to be complicated. Her advice? “Look at everything you do through the lens of diversity and commit to diversity as a core value.”

Change is happening. Be a part of it.

company profile
Company profile: Global Project & Spa Advisory
We focus as much on profitability as we do on customer experience, in the definition of global wellness services. Daily wellness is a trend we support. We define personalised services, integrating health prevention and all experiences that enhance the sustainability of one’s wellbeing.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Nanshufang reading pavilion is the cultural centre of Amanyangyun, where guests can explore Chinese art forms and books
"This carefully choreographed interplay of room and courtyard extends through all scales of the masterplan"

The desire to save a threatened forest and historic buildings in China led to a truly unique resort, We speak to the people that made it happen

The National Museum
Konieczny studied at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. He launched KWK Promes in 1999
"Many buildings nowadays look interesting, but when you analyse deeper, there’s nothing more than the form"

On designing the World Building of the Year

Features include hiking trails, community gardens, a pavilion and fire circle amphitheatre
"If you look at the amount of money we spend on healthcare in the US, and the amount of disease, we have you’ll understand why a lot of folks are starting to look for alternatives - Steve Nygren, Founder, Serenbe"

The US wellness communities providing a new model for living

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The design features raised walkways to protect the jungle floor
Heather Henninger (left) and Nathan Stevenson (right)
"Our goal is to be one of the largest dedicated green wellness communities in the world"

A new green wellness community for Mexico

2. The Perseus chandalier
Marcel Wanders leads a multidisciplinary team of 40. The studio is based in Amsterdam
"I want to create things that show my love, my respect, my interest in the world"

The Dutch designer embraces chaos

The four aluminium-clad sculpted forms that make up the complex will create shaded spaces that can host a series of public events
"When people came, they were surprised it was so raw"

The leisure projects transforming this fast-growing city

features
"Sam was such a champion for the team, and my goal is simply to carry that same torch"

As Blackberry Mountain resort opens in Tennessee, we find out why the project is a deeply personal one for owner Mary Celeste Beall

The recently opened Ragnarock rock museum in Roskilde, Denmark features a gold studded façade, bold red interiors and a cantilevered auditorium
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries founders of MVRDV
"We take a perfectly normal thing, that's been done very often in a certain way, and we start to question that. Why on earth should we make every new shopping mall, or office or tennis court in the same way?” says Nathalie de Vries."

From flooding old shopping malls to revolutionising housing, MVRDV’s founders like to do things differently

The existing architecture will be preserved where possible
Monica von Schmalensee
"how often do you get to move a whole town?"

White Arkitekter’s Monica von Schmalensee on how culture and leisure are central to plans to move the Swedish town of Kiruna to stop it being swallowed by its mine

cladkit product news
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
cladkit product news
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
cladkit product news
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
x
Email this to a friend or colleague
I am happy for Leisure Media to contact me occasionally by email and understand that I can opt out at any time.
Opinion: The good news on diversity
We celebrate the people working to create a more diverse architectural profession
ISPA Conference & Expo
ISPA Conference & Expo