Architecture's Identity Problem

The recent kerfuffle over Denise Scott Brown’s non-receipt of the Pritzker Prize is just a symptom of a larger problem within the field of architecture, says Sam Lubell. The poor rate of diversity among practitioners reduces its relevance.
Wonderlane / flickr

"The ratio of minority architects in the U.S. has for some time hovered around 1 to 2 percent," notes Lubell. "And while there are certainly more women architects than a generation ago, the total numbers are still pretty sad. The AIA shows that only about 15 percent of licensed architects are women."

"The reasons for this ridiculous imbalance have been well documented: high skill, low (and in the case if interns, sometimes no) pay jobs keep out all but the affluent; crazy hours drive away those who need to balance work and life; high tuition and lack of scholarships and minority recruitment keep most schools homogeneous; the registration process is hopelessly outdated to weed out those without resources; and, of course, the fact that those out of the club often feel isolated only perpetuates the problem."

While steps have been taken to remedy the problem, Lubell argues that "More than anything, the culture of architecture needs to change. Not just because it’s the right thing to do. But in order to be a truly relevant profession, architecture—a field often aloof from the community it serves—needs to better represent that community. It needs a greater diversity of views, perspectives, and ideas."



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