The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery—as well as so many other acts of violence against Black lives—compelled us as an organization to commit our attention and resources to standing up for social justice. During the past year, we have worked as a firm to disrupt structural inequities in our design practice, in built environment professions, and in our community.
This work is ongoing and will continue to evolve as we learn and grow as a firm.
Pipeline to a more diverse profession: This year, our team led a design studio for BIPOC youth as part of the Your Street, Your Voice program; hosted interns from Hip Hop Architecture Camp and the Emerging Leaders Program; and put financial support towards the University of Oregon’s Spatial Justice program. In addition, we recently launched TeamUp, our own mentorship program for high school students from underrepresented groups who are interested in built environment careers.
Design justice in our practice: We are incorporating design justice principles into our practice and exploring what it means to bring an equity lens to the decisions we help to facilitate—everything from designing for different body types and physical abilities to representing diverse cultures and languages throughout a building. Internally, we hold an annual firm culture assessment conducted by an independent human resources consultant and participate in ongoing equity trainings.
Partnerships and sourcing: Our relationships with BIPOC and woman-owned businesses have deepened this year, and we are actively tracking diverse business participation on projects. Recent projects have included teams with 40+ percent design team participation. We are looking beyond traditional team structures to understand how we can incorporate teen working groups into our projects and expand stretch opportunities for consultants and subcontractors.
Prioritizing affordable housing: We are proud to contribute our design skills to affordable housing developments like The Louisa Flowers and are currently working on more affordable housing for Home Forward and Albina Vision Trust. Community-led designs focused on housing or opportunity creation for BIPOC communities are a priority for our practice.
Why are we sharing this? We would love to hear from you—our clients, colleagues, and friends—about what you are doing to support social justice. We want to learn from your experience too, and we hope that open and ongoing conversation about equity work becomes the norm.