UPDATED: AIA “Guides for Equitable Practice” now publicly available


The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has publicly released “Guides for Equitable Practice.”

Download the Guides

WASHINGTON – Nov. 29, 2018 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the University of Minnesota are helping shape architecture firm culture by releasing the first three chapters of the “Guides for Equitable Practice” to AIA members today.

AIA sponsored the development of the guides to help educate architects and firms on best practices for equity, diversity and inclusion principles and to provide strategies for incorporating the values into architectural practice.

“Everyday, architects solve critical challenges in society through design and advocacy of the built environment,” said AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee Chair Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA. “We know there’s more work to be done to shape the profession to be more equitable and accessible. These guides frame the conversation and provide actionable items for individuals, firms and allies. Achieving this vision has a direct impact on the relevance of our profession and our work.”

The guides were developed using current research on gender, race and culture in the U.S. and perspectives from architects on what equity, diversity and inclusion mean.

Topics included in the first three chapters of guides explore intercultural competence, workplace culture and compensation within firms. Subsequent sets—both due next year—will address career progression, talent recruitment, leadership development and community engagement.

“The guides provide tangible steps for increasing the intercultural skills of the profession and for creating robust and healthy workplace cultures in our firms,” said Renée Cheng, FAIA, who was recently named Dean at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. “It was an honor for our team at the University of Minnesota to be selected to author them.”

The guides are one component of the AIA’s broad commitment to overcome inequities and advance the profession. In 2015, AIA formed the Equity in Architecture Commission to address broader concerns about disproportionate demographics in the profession. The development of the guides was one of the Commission’s eleven recommendations adopted by the AIA’s Board of Directors.

In 2017, the commission’s work was assumed by the AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee. The committee is tasked with helping implement the commission’s recommendations and tackling other equity, diversity, inclusion and workforce issues.

In addition to the ongoing development of the guides, the committee is also making two anti-harassment training videos available to all AIA members.

“There’s an opportunity for architects and firms to create a more inclusive and welcoming culture,” said AIA 2018 President Carl Elefante, FAIA. “Architects have a duty to be socially aware and social entrepreneurs. It’s up to each of us to do our part to make the profession attractive and available to all people.”

“Guides for Equitable Practice” can be accessed by AIA members through their AIA accounts online. The guides will be available to the public early next year. Members of the media can request a copy of the guides by emailing media@aia.org.

About AIA

Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing.

AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

Renée Cheng named dean of the College of Built Environments

Renée Cheng, FAIA has been named dean of the College of Built Environments. Her appointment is set to begin Jan. 1, 2019. John Schaufelberger will continue in his role as dean until December 31, 2018.

Portrait of Renee Cheng

“The College of Built Environments is a unique collection of disciplines that together, have unparalleled access to, and impact on, the lives and well-being of each and every community around the globe,” Cheng said. “I am honored and excited to join the College of Built Environments and work with new and existing partners, in the greater Seattle area and elsewhere, to collectively make the greatest positive impact.”

Cheng is professor and associate dean of research at the University of Minnesota, where she has developed award-winning curricula and recently has been directing an innovative graduate program linking research with practice and licensure. Cheng has been honored twice as one of the top 25 most admired design educators in the United States by DesignIntelligence, an organization that ranks architecture and design schools across the country.

A licensed architect, Cheng is a leader in the American Institute of Architects and advocates for equity in the field of architecture and more broadly in the practices related to the built environment. Professor Cheng has pioneered research surrounding the intersection of design and emerging technologies, including work on industry adoption of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Lean. Her case study reports are actively used by industry and policy leaders adopting new practices. She has been a core leader for teams of experts writing industry guides for such varied topics as leading IPD projects and best integration practices to achieve high performing buildings. Professor Cheng served as the inaugural chair of the Lean Construction Institute Research Committee and regularly advises the U.S. General Services Administration on issues of high performing buildings and collaborative teams.

Cheng earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and social relations from Harvard University. She went on to receive a professional degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. After academic appointments at the University of Michigan and University of Arizona, Cheng joined the University of Minnesota in 2001, serving first as head of the School of Architecture and later as associate dean for research for the College of Design.

More to come soon! Keep checking back for more on Renée Cheng and her work with the College of Built Environments.