Last night, dozens of students and alumni from 15 United States architecture schools gathered in front of an audience for the New Grounds for Design Education virtual conference to discuss their work countering racism at their respective institutions. The participants had all been involved in writing letters to faculty and administrations about institutionalized racism at their schools, and the meeting was meant to be a place where organizers could compare experiences, plan future actions, and field questions from observers.
The collected speakers came from the University of Michigan; Ohio State University; the University of Virginia; Yale; Rice; Columbia; Virginia Tech; Harvard; Cooper Union; the University of Pittsburgh; Syracuse University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Florida; and Carnegie Mellon. The New York Review of Architecture, a monthly architecture publication, and The Architectural League of New York hosted the event. Nicolas Kemper, an editor at the Review, acknowledged that only predominantly white institutions and no historically Black colleges and universities were included in the event and that this something to be corrected in the future.
In between comments from all of the panelists, architect and academic Dr. Sharon Sutton posed questions to the assembled group to probe their motivations and goals. Sutton’s queries addressed the changing nature of architecture education, which, she said, has increasingly become about job training as opposed to personal and intellectual growth. Sutton asked if the students were satisfied with efforts made to correct demographic imbalances among students and faculty, or if they were interested in also disrupting the administrative practices of architecture schools and institutional accreditation.
Kemper and Paul Lewis, president of the League, started the event with short remarks, and Sanjive Vaidya, chair of the department of architectural technology at The New York City College of Technology, moderated the event.
The event’s organizers included Emily Ebersol, Lexi Tsien, Alice Chai, Ian Svilokos, Jeremy Benson, Breanne Taylor, Allison Shawn Conley, A.L. Hu, Aldo Cherdabayev, David Isaac Hecht, Sanjana Lahiri, Alice Petrosova, My-Anh Nguyen, Kami Beckford, Tya Winn, DJ Butler, Aria Hill, Erica Luedtke, Roya Chagnon, Miranda Hirujo-Rincon, Tiffany M. Orozco, Jordan Rae, Natalia Revelo La Rotta, Hillary Morales, Shane Ah-Siong, Jalisa Mills, Rachel Chon, and Taylor Latimer.