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NOMA and the AIA Large Firm Roundtable Strengthen Ties to Combat Racism in Architecture
Architect Magazine
Washington, DC, USA
Media, Architecture, Interior Design
Architect Staff
Date Published: 
Diversity, Racism, Social Justice, EDI< Equity, Inclusion
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2020-06-16 22:17:23
2020-06-16 22:38:22
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The organizations have been working together since 2017, and continue to actively pursuing "ways to break down barriers and build greater access to opportunity in our profession."

The National Organization of Minority Architects and the American Institute of Architects' Large Firm Roundtable have issued the following statement and letters strengthening their partnership and their support of taking action to combat systemic racism in architecture.

To The Architectural Community:

Now more than ever, it is vital that we stand together to combat the insidious impact of racism in our profession. Not only does racism harm our Black colleagues, it compromises our collective ability to protect the healthy, safety and welfare of the public. The time for change is now.

In the attached letter from the American Institute of Architect's Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) to the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), there is language underscoring LFRT's commitment to supporting NOMA in addressing the negative impact of cultural and racial bias in the profession. We want to be clear that this is not hollow language or lip service, it is a true commitment to facilitate a stronger working relationship between LFRT firms and NOMA to transform our profession for the benefit of all.

LFRT and NOMA have been working together since 2017 and we believe that our partnership is well positioned in this watershed moment to build upon existing efforts to expand financial support, capacity building and mutual understanding. Founded in 1984, LFRT members represent the 60 largest architecture firms in North America. NOMA was founded in 1971 and includes the voices of more than 1,000 diverse professional and student members in more than 100 chapters.

With LFRT's support, NOMA was able to offer 25 student members paid internships this summer, through a five-year financial commitment for the new NOMA Foundation Fellowship program. This is the first initiative to launch since we agreed on the 2030 Diversity Challenge, which calls for us to grow the number of licensed Black architects from 2,300 to 5,000 by 2030, increasing representation from a mere 2% to roughly 4% Black licensed architects. While that still falls short of the 14% Black population in the U.S., it is a tremendous step forward. We are actively working on ways to break down barriers and build greater access to opportunity in our profession. We encourage each of you to consider large and small ways that you can be part of the solution to our shared problem of racial inequity in architecture.

Together, we can design a better future. The LFRT + NOMA partnership exemplifies what is possible when we collaborate to create positive change.

In Solidarity,Kimberly Dowdell, NOMA President & Carole Wedge, AIA LFRT Chair

June 9 Letter From the American Institute of Architects' Large Firm Roundtable:

Dear NOMA members,

Today, at a time that will be known as a pivotal moment in our country’s history, the AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) members affirm our alliance with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). We commit to continue to work in partnership with NOMA to create meaningful change, equitable work environments and systems to realize our core values of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We are partners with NOMA committed to changing the racial face of architecture.

We have witnessed the horrific murder of George Floyd, as the most recent travesty of a person of color at the hands of authorities. We’ve watched as systemic racism was used as a tool to fabricate and allege a crime against Christian Cooper. We’ve experienced pain, disgust, anger and unrest. We’ve experienced devastation and disruption – some from a distance and some right outside of our doors. We are encouraged by the coming together of diverse groups of people to protest and combat violence, hate, and the abuse of power that impacts our communities of color first and most significantly.

We are taking a stand with NOMA to drive change that achieves racial justice and a better future - for all. We will start, in partnership with NOMA, local NOMA chapters and the communities we serve, by offering help and support to those who are most impacted by the tragedies of the past weeks and committing to working together to dismantle the structural inequities that exist in our firms, our communities and in our work.

The AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) members consists of 60 of North America’s largest design firms, who lead more than 100,000 des