AIA New Jersey is Working To Increase Access To The Architectural Profession

February 16, 2021

AIA New Jersey is Working To Increase Access To The Architectural Profession

By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, Chair of the AIA New Jersey Equity in Architecture Committee and Libertad Harris, Associate AIA, Chair of the AIA New Jersey Women In Architecture Committee

2020 has been a year like no other.  2020 has brought about change in the way our industry addresses the climate crisis, it has brought about change in the way we communicate virtually with each other on the same projects, and it has brought about change in how we address social injustice.  Social Injustice comes in many forms like the redlining of communities, blighting what was once thriving neighborhoods, or creating toxic zones in socio-economic challenged communities.  However, it also comes in the form of the homogeneousness of the people who create those communities. 

Architecture is an industry that changes very slowly, however, through the research conducted by AIA, NOMA, ACSA, and NCARB over the past 20 years, the architecture industry is coming to the realization that without action, the social injustice, in which our industry play a part, will not self-correct.  Specifically, the research by AIA, NOMA, ACSA, and NCARB indicate that the following issues may be significant barriers to Black, Indigenous, and people of color becoming licensed Architects:

  1. Data indicates that African American children (and families) have less exposure to architects than others and so may be unfamiliar with the profession as a career option. 
  1. The activities that stimulate creative problem-solving development and portfolio preparation are more often part of an enrichment program outside of the classroom and therefore possibly inaccessible to lower-income families or families without a child care provider available after school to supervise or facilitate access to their enrichment. Data indicates that African American families might have a greater incidence of falling into this category. 
  1. Architecture is a more expensive and less accessible major for the general population, requiring more years of school, expensive materials, and few schools offering the major, so students who may not have access to private college counselors or professionally-minded guidance in high school may be shut out of the major or not as supported to prepare a portfolio, identify colleges that offer the major, provide proper direction towards a NAAB accredited program, education on the path to licensure, etc. Data indicates that African American students might have a greater incidence of falling into this category. 
  1. Most Black, Indigenous, and students of color do not have ample faculty or industry role models that look like them to encourage their college experience and graduation. 
  1. Black, Indigenous, and students of color who are architectural graduates have statistically less opportunity to complete the AXP experience requirements in order to qualify to take the exam. 
  1. The nature of architectural internships in the United States (often low or no pay) often prohibits graduates that need to earn a robust income to support their households from accepting open positions. It is easier for an intern living in a well-supported household to be able to afford a low paying job. 

Statistics researched over the past 20 years indicate that barriers do exist for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and do create a hardship that other demographics seem to be less restricted by.  

AIA-NJ has begun to address these inadequacies by starting at the K-12 level to expose our future designers, future leaders, and future clients about architecture.  AIA-NJ’s goal to reach out to every child and allow them to dream about a career in architecture, to help them believe that the path to licensure is possible, and work tirelessly to help every child achieve that goal.

AIA-NJ will continue our open discussions with our members, partner organizations, such as NOMA-NJ, and our K-12 and university students.  AIA-NJ is committed to subsequent action on the subject to increase awareness and equalize the support, opportunity, and access to the profession for all demographics. 

AIA-NJ believes that our profession should be populated by people who demonstrate the credentials required to be an architect, regardless of color or socio-economic background. We join AIA National, multitudes of industry partners, and the American workforce to address this inequity in every industry.  We encourage everyone to read the research and support these efforts making changes in your own schools, your own firms, and your own communities.  Reach out to the Equity in Architecture Committee to offer your own stories of support, your suggestions for change, or to ask how you can be a part of our efforts.

 

NCARB By The Numbers 2020

https://www.ncarb.org/sites/default/files/2020NBTN.pdf

 

NOMA’s Public Statement Regarding Public Injustice

https://www.noma.net/nomas-public-statement-regarding-racial-injustice-2020-may-31/

 

ACSA’s Where Are My People? Black in Architecture by Kendall A. Nicholson, ED.D., Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED GA  https://www.acsa-arch.org/resources/data-resources/where-are-my-people-black-in-architecture/?fbclid=IwAR1NdEis8eOcz8E_mW1Hvjz4E8YBIBPKj4ZT5e4jJUYiduJRNdS-i1FFStU​

 

ACSA’s Where Are My People? Hispanic in Architecture by Kendall A. Nicholson, ED.D., Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED GA https://www.acsa-arch.org/resources/data-resources/where-are-my-people-hispanic-latinx-in-architecture/

 

ACSA’s Where Are My People? Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander in Architecture by Kendall A. Nicholson, ED.D., Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED GA  https://www.acsa-arch.org/resources/data-resources/where-are-my-people-asian-american-native-hawaiian-and-pacific-islander-in-architecture/

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