Urban Design *Zoom* Salon on Racism & Architecture

  • July 08, 2020
  • 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Virtual Event

Organization: AIA Cincinnati

Program Description

Urban Design Salon: How should we respond? The role of design practice in dismantling structural racism

Register before noon on July 8 to receive Zoom information.

In the midst of a nationwide struggle over racism, racial inequality, and the effects of white supremacy, how should we, as architects and designers, respond?

This salon will provide a forum for informal discussion where we can openly and honestly interrogate and comprehend aspects of racism and architecture. How does the design of public space reinforce the prevailing practice of white privilege and institutional racism?  How do we invite, learn from, and respond to the testimony of people of color and disenfranchised communities? How do we treat our colleagues so as to develop a profession that is inclusive and diverse?

Special guest, Stephen Slaughter, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, will provide opening remarks. In his recent open letter to the SAID community, Slaughter included the following quote from The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Following the opening remarks, we will break into smaller groups. Suggested topics for discussion include the following:

  • How the design of public spaces inculcates white privilege and perpetuates the status quo.
  • Aspects of street design, which encourage healthy, active and vibrant neighborhoods for all people.
  • The relationship between intensive surveillance and space.
  • Ways designers and the building and construction industry, as a whole, can empower and encourage people of color within the industry.
  • Effects of zoning, property restrictions, racial covenants, red lining and public policy on housing, the potential for gentrification and the distribution of wealth.
Educational Resources

Below is a short list of educational resources for the Salon. They are derived from the Space/Race reading list, which was collectively produced by a group of architectural historians, art historians, architects, and urbanists in reaction to the August 2017 events in Charlottesville. It is a series of readings on how race and racism are constructed with spatial means, and on how in turn space can be shaped by racism. Here is a link to the Space/Race list, which is meant primarily as a teaching resource.

Learning Objectives
  • Learn how the design of public spaces can inculcate white privilege and perpetuate the status quo.
  • Explore aspects of safe streets design, which encourage healthy, active, and vibrant neighborhoods for all people.
  • Understand the impacts of public spaces, which are designed for intensive surveillance and policing, on people of color. 
  • Understand ways to empower and encourage people of color within the architectural profession.

About Stephen Slaughter

Stephen Slaughter UC

After completing a Master of Architecture at The Ohio State University, and initiating his career in Thom Mayne’s studio, Morphosis, Slaughter has collaborated with a number of highly respected and influential practices throughout the world. As a twenty year practicing professional, Slaughter’s experience spans from presiding over the rollout of retail boutiques, residences, and restaurants, as well as managing large-scale institutional projects. In addition to conventional practice, and borne out of the desire to challenge architectural orthodoxy, Slaughter co-founded PHAT, a four-person, multi-disciplinary design collaborative that pursued work for exhibition, and has shown in venues throughout the world including the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Architecture Center in New York and was invited to the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain’s young Architects Exhibition to lecture and present work.

Slaughter is currently an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Cincinnati focusing on the nexus between public interest design and computational fabrication.

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