Politicians .... and supervisors seem to call all the shots of late, but designers can redirect the narrative through accumulation of small acts

Too often in studio juries and lectures I hear architects say that we don’t have the agency to address “wicked” problems—that issues of equity, homelessness, economic inequality, and immigration are too complex to solve. I disagree.

We feel powerless in the face of decisions being made by politicians, corporate leaders, and supervisors. We can, however, combat that powerlessness, not through any singular hegemonic gesture, but through the accumulation of small acts that architects make: which materials to use, whom to hire, which projects to accept. These choices are not without risk, not always politically expedient, often contrary to traditional decision-making processes, and occasionally adversarial to the bottom line. Yet these micro-decisions have consequences that extend far beyond the boundaries of architecture.

For change to be meaningful, it must come from within our discipline. As architects, we have within our disciplinary methods the means to address the thorniest issues through our micro-actions.