| ("inner city cultures"?)
Where Architecture Meets Race
Popular music reflects the full melting pot of American culture. So why is
architecture still so white?
At this year's AIA convention Marshall Purnell, FAIA, a principal at the
Washington D.C., firm Devrouax + Purnell Architects and Planners PC, was
elected AIA 2008 president. In a recent interview with Record contributing
writer Sam Lubell, Purnell discussed the need for architects to lead the
sustainability movement, called for improved relations between the AIA and
local components, suggested ways to raise salaries, and discussed the
challenges of moving toward the Building Information Model system. But
much of the conversation with the AIA's first African American president
related to race and architecture.
Look at who is producing it. Our music, by contrast, is a result of our
entire culture, because we have taken advantage of our diversity. If
architecture is still music frozen in time, then we're doing classical
music. There's no R&B, no jazz, no rap. What kind of architecture would a
Miles Davis have given us? What kind of architecture would Duke Ellington
have given us? When you look at who is contributing to the architectural
fabric of American it's often boring. It's the same old, same old. What
kind of architecture would Jay-Z give us if he got turned on by that
creative mode? We need clients who are looking for those creative modes.
It's one of the only modes of artistic expression where you need someone
to commission it. If you're a painter you just paint. With architecture
you need a patron. Architecture would get better if we involved people
from the inner city. It would get enlivened and enriched. What would dance
be without African Americans? What would our music be? When you start
limiting who practices, that's a problem.