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Designing for Life

A Black architect calls on designers to recommit their training and expertise to account for the health and safety of all, especially those who have been most harmed by the status quo of the built environment.
June 8, 2020, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Philadelphia Municipal Services Building
City officials removed this statue of Frank L. Rizzo, criticized for violence against Black and gay Americans during the '60s and '70s, from its location in front of the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building.
Bumble Dee

Multiple public health crises are disproportionately killing Black Americans—police brutality has been at the forefront of the public discussion for several weeks, but the disparate effects of the coronavirus are lingering in the background, killing thousands in this country every day.  

The disproportionate health effects of COVID-19 on Black Americans is connected to the work of architects, according to Kimberly Dowdell, an architect who writes thusly in a guest column for Fast Company: "This isn’t just a public health problem; it’s a design problem."

Dowdell, who is the president of the National Organization of Minority Architects, calls on architects not only to acknowledge their role in designing the spaces and places that are killing Black Americans in greater numbers during the pandemic. "When it comes to addressing how to safeguard all communities from future health crises, architects bring a myriad of skills to the table," according to Dowdell. Those skills include interdisciplinary expertise, best practices for public health, and a diversity of perspectives.

"We must pledge ourselves to truly design for life," writes Dowdell to conclude.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in Fast Company
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