AIA Diversity / Then+Now+NEXT

The American Institute of Architects

Note to viewers: This interactive history welcomes corrections, references, additions, images, observations.   Please share key moments, insights, & predictions by sending directly to marga@margaink.comTHANKS TO ALL who take part
Comments also collected/recorded at Back+FORTH Dialog Sessions at AIA Women's Leadership Summit 2011 and NOMA Conference 2011
With thanks for support of this project provided by 
AIA Diversity and Inclusion, and the cooperation of AIA Archives.

: In his keynote address to the AIA Convention in Portland, Oregon, Whitney M. Young, Jr., head of the Urban League, challenges the AIA on issues relating to social responsibility and diversity within the profession: “You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights …..  You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance."  "We are going to have to have people as committed to doing the right thing to inclusiveness as we have in the past to exclusiveness." Image from AIA Memo December 1992
1970: AIA/AAF Minority Disadvantaged Scholarship (in 2014 renamed "Diversity Advancement Scholarship") established, supporting an average of 20 students/year
1971: establishment of National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) at AIA Convention, Detroit
1972: AIA presents first Whitney M. Young Award to NOMA founder Robert J. Nash. The award recognizes "architects and organizations that exemplify the profession’s proactive social mandate ... [regarding] issues such as affordable housing, minority inclusiveness, and access for persons with disabilities."
1973:  *At AIA Convention, a resolution passes that “the AIA take action to integrate women into all aspects of the profession as full participants,” and conduct a study on the issues for report to the Board of Directors. The AIA Task Force on Women in Architecture chaired by Judith Edelman carries out the study. 
*Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, Carol Ross Barney, Cynthia Weese and others establish Chicago Women in Architecture; San Francisco Organization of Women Architects founded. 
1974:  *"At the 1974 national convention of the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, Judith Edelman presented data showing that 1.2 percent of registered architects in the United States were women. Only coal miners and steelworkers, she suggested, counted a lower proportion."
 *"In 1974, AIA had 24,000 men and 300 women, a pretty appalling statistic. In 1970, women represented 3.5 percent of the 56,214 practicing architects in the US" (Ada Louise Huxtable, "The Letterhead is Solidly Male," The New York Times). 
*AIA hires Robert T. Coles as Deputy VP for Minority Affairs, to develop "a masterplan for minority awareness," working in concert with Leon Bridges and Marshall Purnell to establish the AIA Commission on Community Services. 
1980: Norma Merrick Sklarek (image at left), the first African American woman licensed as an architect (1962), becomes the first elevated to the AIA College of Fellows; and in 2008, the first female to receive the Whitney Young Award.
1982:  Women comprise 3.6% of AIA membership.
1984:  As a member of the AIA Minority Resource Committee 1984-87, Stanford Britt authors "Elements of Change (How to Involve Minorities in AIA)."  He later serves on the AIA Board 1999-2003, then its only African American member.
1985: Establishment of Chicago-based Arquitectos, The Society of Hispanic Professional Architects
1988:  100th anniversary of the admission of Louise Blanchard Bethune as the first woman to hold AIA membership, commemorated by traveling centennial exhibit
“That Exceptional One: Women in American Architecture 1888-1988" 
  "In the last two decades, the number of architects in the US, according to Labor Department statistics, has roughly doubled. The number of female architects, less than 1500 in 1970, now approaches 5000. The number of black architects has grown from about 1000 to 2000, remaining at about 2 percent of the total" (from Robert Coles, "Black Architects: An Endangered Species," Progressive Architecture July 1989).
1991:  Bradford C. Grant and Dennis Alan Mann publish first edition of the Directory of African American Architects.
1992:  First meeting of the AIA President’s Task Force on Equal Rights and Proactive Action in Washington DC (April), charged by AIA President W. Cecil Steward to develop for presentation to the Board a comprehensive strategic plan to implement the 1991 civil rights policy:  Walter Scott Blackburn, Chair; Gordon Chong, Stephen A. Glassman, Marga Rose Hancock, Edith Porras, Karl Thorne, Jack Travis, C. James Lawler; Jean Barber (AIA staff), Elizabeth Benyunes, Elizabeth Davis.  As the Diversity Task Force, this group developed a vision of AIA in the year 2000 as a multicultural organization: "Policy: All aspects of AIA operations will reflect the Institute’s commitment to diversity in leadership and in all its activities, both internally and externally. Programs: The AIA’s programs will serve all constituencies with integrity and promote the profession to youth and adolescents of underrepresented groups. People: All members of the AIA will be valued equally, and membership will reflect national demographics. Power: The AIA will have a national impact on diversity and will be looked to for guidance on these issues." 
*The Task Force meets in the Kennedy Library/Washington DC in June, as the AIA Board endorsed the Diversity Task Force’s “Declaration of Intention,” an 8-point action plan aimed at positioning the Institute and the profession for leadership in the changing human resources environment.
Meeting in Indiana in November, the Diversity Task Force develops the “New Harmony Accords,” advancing the premise that “The organization commands strength in proportion to its inclusiveness” and presented to the AIA Board in December. Shown at left, image provided by Alpha Blackburn: Marga Rose Hancock, Alpha Blackburn, Jack Travis, Walter Blackburn, Jean Barber at New Harmony 

1992-93: *Susan Maxman (image at left) serves as the first woman President since the 1857 founding of the AIA.
*L. Jane Hastings serves as first woman Chancellor of AIA College of Fellows.
1993:  *Publication of Paul R. Williams: A Legacy of Style (by Karen E. Hudson, Rizzoli NY), reflecting the career of the first African-American architect to join the AIA (1923) and the first elected to the College of Fellows (1957).  *Joint meeting in Atlanta (April) of the Diversity Task Force with members of the AIA Minority Resources Committee and the Women in Architecture Committee (Sylvia Kwan, Chair).  This coalition, self-named as the “Diversity Squadron,” envisions the AIA Diversity Conference and the Diversity Agenda, and the idea of taking it into our own hands. The historic and visionary gathering includes Jean Barber, Melissa Bennett, Walter Scott Blackburn (Chair), Alpha Blackburn, Gordon Chong, Beth Davis, Deborah Dietsch (then Editor, Architecture), Helene Combs Dreiling, Steve Glassman, Rainy Hamilton, Sylvia Kwan, Gretchen McKellar Penney, Emma Macari, Thom Penn, Edith Porras, Michaele Pride-Wells, Marga Rose Hancock, Karl Thorne, Jack Travis.  As bidden in the original charge and confirmed by the AIA Board's approval, this group conceived of a program that would help manifest an AIA "multicultural in membership, leadership, and management."  The AIA Diversity Conference would expressly (1) invite women, people of color, lesbians and gays, architects with disabilities, and adherents of architecture's potential to serve social justice -- so to speak, the "progressive wing" of the profession.  Further, it would (2) cultivate professional leadership among groups under-represented in the profession and AIA, and (3) encourage individuals and groups to take advantage of AIA's resources and strength to manifest their own ideals.  Thus, the group began the processes that resulted in the first Diversity Conference -- Breaking the ICE (Invite, Cultivate, Encourage). *"Design Diaspora: Black Architects and International Architecture 1970-1990" exhibit produced by Carolyn Armenta Davis highlights contemporary design by 50 Black architects from 11 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Africa on a 1993-2000 world tour.
1994:  Diversity Conference I: Breaking the ICE | Building New Leadership, Washington DC (August). 
Keynoter: Charlotte NC Mayor Harvey Gantt (pictured at left); presentations by Harry Robinson, Sheri Olson, Kathryn Anthony, Sharon Egretta Sutton;
Subjects: The Diversity Agenda, affinity caucuses.  *AIA membership totalling 41,685 includes 7.3% "all minorities," 10.45% women, .99% minority women.
1995:  Diversity Conference II:  Building Bridges, San Francisco (August).  Keynoter: Denise Scott Brown "Inner Diversity;" presentations by Winona LaDuke, Linda Kiisk, Anne Laird-Blanton, Kathryn Prigmore, Michael Willis.  Task Force effort establishes the Women in Architecture reception at AIA Convention, held annually since.
1995-96:  Denice Johnson Hunt serves as the nation's first woman of color to hold the highest elected office in an AIA local component, as AIA Seattle President.

Raj Barr-Kumar serves as first AIA President of color. 
1996:  *Denise Scott-Brown becomes first woman to receive the AIA Topaz Medallion.  *
Diversity Conference III:  Crossing Lines, Boston (August). Keynoter: Patricia Carbine (Ms. Magazine co-founder); presentations by Rebecca Barnes, Johnpaul Jones, M. David Lee, origination of TRIBUTES by architecture students/interns.  
1997:  Diversity Conference IV: Beyond the Rainbow, Seattle (August, 200 attendees) with "Dancing in Design" National Conference for Women in Architecture.  Keynoters:  Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, Sharon Egretta Sutton, AIA President Ron Altoon on “Ethnicity & Leadership,” presentations by Kate Diamond, Donald King, Patricia Saldana Natke, Rena M. Klein, Development of Diversity Agenda; TRIBUTES presented by architecture students/interns at Tillicum Indian Village.
1998:  Diversity Conference V: Opening Doors, Atlanta (August). Keynoter: Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, presentations by Robert IvyThe McAfee 3: Charles, Cheryl, Charyl; Kate Schwennsen, Sarah Haga, Martin Luther King History Tour.  Review of Task Force Summary of Achievements to 1998
1999 ?Diversity Conference VI ??? location???  Ann Thompson hired to staff AIA Diversity
2000:  Diversity Conference VII: D2K, Chicago (August?), reduced to one-day workshop
Publication of Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession, by Kathryn H. Anthony (U. of Illinois Press).  *AIA/NOMA Diversity Summit held in Washington, DC.
Gordon Chong serves as first Asian American AIA President.
 Establishment of AIA Board Diversity Council
; proliferation of AIA local component diversity programs
2003:  "The thoughtful essays in this publication should move us beyond the lamentations of what ought to have happened in the past 35 years to the kind of substantive action that can change architecture in the coming decades. ... The need to meet market demands, an understanding that different perspectives bring richness to professional discussions, and the simple recognition that intellect, creativity, and hard work are not the exclusive province of white males have diversified law and medicine while architecture has remained largely unchanged." (Ted Landsmark, Intro to "20 on 20/20 Vision: Perspectives on Diversity and Design" [Linda Kiisk, ed.] published by AIA Diversity Committee and Boston Society of Architects)
2004: "'In terms of diversity, the AIA is about 20 years behind the curve,' says [Terrence] O'Neal, who contributed to a resolution proposed in June and ratified by the AIA board in September, to help improve diversity figures in the notoriously homogenous profession."  (Sam Lubell, "AIA To Launch New Diversity Initiative," Architectural Record September 2004)
:  AIA Board passage of Resolution 04-2 "To Strengthen the Demographic Diversity of the Design Profession" leads to the first AIA-sponsored research on diversity in the profession, a study of architecture demographics by Holland & Knight: "Of its members, approximately 2% are Hispanic/Latino, 3% are Asian, and 1% are Black....  As of December 2004, approximately 12% of all of the AIA's architect members are female.  The AIA does not collection information on disability or sexual orientation."  Benjamin Vargas and Ron Battaglia help craft the AIA’s position statement on diversity.
2006:  "....about half of all of the African American architecture students are at the seven historically black colleges and universities. Most of those are located in the south, where employment and internship opportunities for African American architects have been limited" ("Diversity and the Profession: Take II" interview with Ted Landsmark for AIA150, January 2006). *"Merely engaging in high-minded debates about theoretical future reductions while continuing to steadily increase emissions represents a self-delusional and reckless approach. In some ways, that approach is worse than doing nothing at all, because it lulls the gullible into thinking that something is actually being done, when in fact it is not.” - Al Gore, quoted in "25 Steps to Diversity" (Stephen A. Kliment, AIArchitect 12/7/06)
:  Marshall Purnell serves as AIA's first African American President.
2007:  *"The number of black women architects has quadrupled in 15 years. But four times a fraction of a percent doesn't amount to much" (Hannah McCann, "0.2%," ARCHITECT 3/12/07). *MIT School of Architecture and Planning and the Robert R. Taylor Network convene a conference "Architecture Race and Academe," resulting in creation of an online black architects timeline. *AIA Diversity and Inclusion initiates "Shadow An Architect" program to introduce youth from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to the profession of architecture, since conducted twice annually in connection with AIA Convention and Grassroots.
*"Histories, Herstories, Reappraising the Legacy of American Architecture" presented by the National Building Museum, sponsored by Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. *Steven Lewis convenes "Forced Perspective: A Symposium on Race and Architecture" at Harvard GSD.

2008:  "Only 1.5 percent of America's architects are African-American (at a time when the U.S. Census shows that African-Americans comprise approximately 12 to 13 percent of the total population)" (Robert Ivy, "Room for All Our Talents, Architectural Record May 2008). *"The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports that in March 2008, sixteen percent of firm principals and partners were women, up from twelve percent in 1999. Anecdotally, it is known that most of these female principals and partners are sole proprietors or owners of small firms. This common wisdom is consistent with research studies of managerial demographics in the United States. While women occupy forty percent of all managerial positions, only six percent of the most highly paid executive positions are held by women" (Rena Klein, "Labyrinth to the Top," AIA May 2008).  *First AIA Diversity Plenary, MultiFORMity, St. Louis (April) brings together individuals representing architecture, other professions, business, academia, associations, and AIA components to identify best practices for implementation by the AIA and its partners in order to move the profession towards a more diverse and inclusive future by improving the recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse individuals in architecture. The outcome of the plenary, the Gateway Commitment, leads to the development of a multi-year action plan to address these issues, with a mandate to create a diversity toolkit designed to engage firms on the issue of diversity and inclusion. *"Challenging the Paradigm: A Conversation with Three Women Deans of Architecture" presented by the National Building Museum, sponsored by Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. *Leers/Weinzapfel selected as first woman-owned firm recipient of the AIA Architecture Firm Award.
Inaugural AIA Women's Leadership Summit, Chicago (September): "The first national gathering of women who serve as firm principals and in other professional leadership roles drew upon their talents and experiences to describe the issues women face and sought to raise their profile within the profession."  *Second AIA Diversity Plenary,Value: The Difference – a Toolkit for Firms.” San Francisco plenary brings together AIA Board members, collateral organizations, related organizations, firm representatives, interns, and students to identify tools, resources and approaches to increase diversity and inclusion within architecture firms. *The same month sees adoption of the NOMA/AIA Memorandum of Understanding, and adoption of AIA Diversity Action Plan, 2009-2013, with strategies to 1) expand the racial/ethnic, gender, and perspective diversity of the design professions to mirror the society we serve and 2) nurture emerging professionals and influence a preferred future for the internship process and architecture education.  *AIA hires Sherry Snipes as Director for Diversity and Inclusion. *Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation releases "A Girl is a Fellow Here: 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright." *AIA presents Kemper Award for service to the profession to Barbara Nadel, and the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education to Adèle Naudé Santos -- in both cases, the second woman to receive the award.
*"Across the country, design-centered high schools are helping increase the number of African-Americans and Latinos in the field." (James Murdock, "Diversity in Design: The Diversity Pipeline", Architectural Record May 2009)
*"According to the latest figures from the National Architectural Accrediting Board, architecture schools are still dominated by men, though by a decreasing margin. Of all the enrolled and matriculating students of architecture, 59% are men and 41% are women. The gender gap is much wider among faculty, however, with a split of 74% men, 26% women" (Lance Hosey, "In the World of Green, Women Rule," ARCHITECT December 2009).
2010: "When he [Marshall Purnell] became the youngest president of the National Organization of Minority Architects 25 years ago, African-Americans made up just above 1 percent of the profession. Today, a couple of years after he ended a term as the first black president of The American Institute of Architects, the leading trade group for licensed architects, the percentage is no better" (Maya Payne Smart, "Building the Pipeline of Minority Architects," Savoy February 25, 2010)*Advocacy for AIA Board adoption of a policy favoring passage of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act highlights LGBT Reception at AIA Convention, Miami; AIA Board acts unanimously to adopt the policy. *AIA hosts Women's Leadership Summit, New York (September).  *Diversity Best Practice Awards recognize the contribution of individuals, firms, and AIA component programs to the aim of advancing diversity in architecture. *Gender of full and associate professors in US accredited schools of architecture: 75% male, 25% female (NAAB 2010 Report on Accreditation in Architecture Education)
2011: "Architect Barbie can't do all the work. Deeply held attitudes about women must shift before architecture becomes a profession that truly embraces diversity" (Despina Stratigakos, "What I Learned from Architect Barbie," Places June 13, 2011).  "The AIA has announced the winners of its contest to build a dream home for the Mattel doll 'Architect Barbie.' The contest misses the point that the severe gender gap in architecture is a problem of retaining women -- not one of recruiting them" (John Cary, "'Architect Barbie' builds a dream home, but her profession needs a makeover,' Christian Science Monitor August 8, 2011). 
"Architect Barbie" visits Taliesen.  *The AIA Seattle Diversity Roundtable observes the Summer Solstice with 2011 AIA Whitney Young Award recipient Sharon E. Sutton, along with 5 of 25 individuals supported in their studies at the University of Washington College of Built Environments by scholarships endowed through the Roundtable's efforts originating in 1985.   *AIA Women's Leadership Summit (Kansas City, September) attracts 250+. *Back+FORTH DIALOG/INTERVIEW SESSIONS engaging Diversity veterans with current and future activists at a series of informal reunions held in concert with the AIA 2011 Women's Leadership Summit, the NOMA 2011 Conference, and at Diverse Gatherings, supported by AIA Diversity and Inclusion and in cooperation with AIA Archives.  Collected materials inform content for publication in ARCHITECT as well as AIA archival posting. 
2012: AIA Board Diversity Council 2012 sets forth.
March: *AIA Diversity and Inclusion celebrates Women's History Month
*3/14: "According to The Architect's Journal's first Women in Architecture [WIA] Survey, the percentage of women in [British] architecture has fallen over the past few years. ... [L]ook back to see how far women have come and better understand where we go from here." (Megan Jett, Infographic: Women in Architecture, ArchDaily)
May:  AIA Diversity and Inclusion's Annual Women in Architecture Dinner, New York
September:  National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) releases 2011 Report on Architecture Education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE) participates in AIA Strength through Diverse-Cities Multicultural Summit, Dallas
9/12:  At the national Democratic Convention, Harvey Gantt offers a tribute to deceased Democrat leaders.
11/12: "Only 1,444, or 5.3%, of the 27,478 students in programs certified by the National Architectural Accrediting Board identify themselves as black or African-American. The numbers get much smaller as these aspiring architects climb the professional ladder: Of the 104,300 registered architects in the United States, roughly 1,860 of them -- less than 2% -- are black" (Jenna McKnight, "Why the Lack of Black Students? RECORD speaks to architecture students about the field's diversity problem," Architectural Record).

  *AIA Board Diversity Council 2013 oversees AIA programs.
February: AIA Diversity and Inclusion celebrates Black History Month
ArchDaily highlights "The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architecture History" (Nicky Rackard); "There are few black architects in the pipeline, and fewer still of high national prominence" (C.C. Sullivan, "Toward a Blacker Architecture in America" SmartPlanet
May: "Women and the Changing World of Architecture" address at Harvard GSD by Architectural Record Editor Cathleen McGuigan

June:  AIA San Francisco initiates "The Missing 32%" petition
AIA publishes Women in Architecture Toolkit
10/24-26: AIA Women's Leadership Summit (Phoenix) a sell-out
*According to the NAAB 2012 Report on Accreditation in Architecture Education, women comprise 32% of faculty members in accredited schools of architecture, and 43% of students in architecture degree programs.  The report also documents ethnicity of faculty and students.

At left:  AIA 2015 President-elect Elizabeth Chu Richter, newly-inaugurated 2014 President Helene Combs Dreiling, 2006 President Kate Schwennsen, and 1992-93 President Susan Maxman at AIA Inaugural Gala

Women and Minorities Make Gains at Architecture Firms: [According to the AIA Firm Survey] Racial and ethnic minorities made large gains in the last decade, and now represent about 20 percent of staff at firms, an increase of 4 percent from 2005. The percentage of minority licensed architects also witnessed a nice bump. Women also made inroads at firms, especially among licensed architects: 26 percent are women, versus 20 percent in 2005. But the percentage of women principals and partners only ticked up slightly." - Eric Willis, AIA Architect.  2014 Whitney M. Young Award presented to Ivenue Love-Stanley
March: Women's History Month celebration of Women in Architecture at National Building Museum
April: Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation publishes Building on the Past: A History of Women in Architecture, by Despina Stratigakos
 2015: "At the 2015 AIA Convention, delegates adopted Resolution 15-1, 'Equity in Architecture.'"  
June:  NCARB Report: "The Architecture Profession Attracting More Women and Minorities" (Caroline Massie, AIA Architect)
Highlights [selected] from the 2015 NCARB By the Numbers Report:
* Women comprised 38% of aspiring architects who completed the IDP in 2014, compared to 25% in 2000. Women also accounted for 35% of candidates who completed the ARE in 2014, a percentage that has nearly doubled since 2000.
* Racial and ethnic minorities comprised 41% of aspiring architects in 2014, compared to 22% in 2007

September:  AIA Women's Leadership Summit, Seattle (Caitlin Reagan, "Here's What Happens When 300 Ambitious Women Architects Meet Up," AIA Architect
"Carve Your Own Path and other Takeaways from the AIA Women's Leadership Summit 2015" (Sean David Burke, AIA Architect); "The AIA Establishes a Commission on Equity in Architecture" (Wanda Lau, AIA Architect)
2016 January:  Diversity in the Profession of Architecture/Executive Summary: "Industry data show that, while improving, women and people of color are underrepresented in the field of architecture. In 2015, industry membership organizations worked together to create a study examining what architects believe causes this underrepresentation, how significant they feel it is, and offering suggestions on what could be done to address it."
February: Sabrina Santos, Architectural ReviewWomen in Architecture's 2016 Survey Finds Wider Gender Disparities"One in five women worldwide say they would not encourage a woman to start a career in architecture."  Rebecca Seidel, Architectural Record: "The AIA’s Diversity in the Profession of Architecture survey, completed by 7,522 people in 2015, indicates that women and people of color perceive more career obstacles and lower job satisfaction levels."
August:  NCARB: The Number of Architects Continues to Rise: "The path to licensure is getting shorter, while the profession is still struggling with gender and racial equity. ... More women are entering the field than before, and they’re attaining licensure faster than their male counterparts, accounting for one-third of licensure candidates. Although the trend represents an overall improvement, women still drop off in greater numbers than men from the time they begin the licensure process (at which point women account for 42 percent) to earning an NCARB certificate (with women accounting for 18 percent). In 2015, women continued to complete their initial license faster than men, reporting 12.3 years to men’s 13.4 years." (Hallie Busta, ARCHITECT)
October:  AIA San Francisco presents "Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, Matrices"
2016 Whitney Young Award presented to R. Steven Lewis
2017 January:  AIA Equity in Architecture Commission publishes executive summary of recommendations for expanding and strengthening the commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in every practice.
*AIA presents the AIA Gold Medal to Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) -- the first African American architect to join the AIA, in 1923; and the first elevated to the College of Fellows, in 1957.
2018 AIA Whitney Young Award presented to Tamara Eagle Bull, the first Native American woman architect
May:  ARCHITECT publishes "Toward a History: The AIA Diversity Timeline"
July: Octagon Museum opens 50 Years After Whitney Young Jr. exhibit
November: AIA releases Guides for Equitable Practice

2019 William J. Bates FAIA serves as AIA President

AIA Diversity History