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Michael Marshall Guest Panelist for AIA|DC Virtual Town Hall
12 June, 2020

Michael Marshall Guest Panelist for AIA|DC Virtual Town Hall

AIA|DC hosted a Virtual Town Hall discussion on Thursday, June 11 to discuss how the profession of architecture can better integrate social justice values and goals.

Participants included:
– Robert L. Holzbach, AIA – AIA|DC President
– Yiselle Santos, AIA – AIA|DC Secretary
– Marc Fairbrother, AIA – AIA|DC Past President
– Mide Akinsade, AIA – AIA|DC Board of Directors
– Chris McCabe, AIA – AIA|DC Board of Directors
– Mary Fitch AIA|DC Executive Director.

Special guests included
– Michael Marshall, AIA – Design Director and Principal, Michael Marshall Design
– Howard Mack – Professor, School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University

The crux of the discussion was how can the AIA and our profession better address one of its core values—Equity?

The conversation began with President Robert Holzbach reading a statement in which he called for action and the need “to focus attention on ourselves and our profession, because, despite our best intentions, we are not free of guilt. The past three weeks have changed the landscape like an earthquake, it has been a seismic shift to our consciousness. We see the world in a whole new way.”

His statement was followed by reflections of Board members, including Mide Akinsade, who shared personal experiences of harassment and racial profiling he experienced as an architecture student and even more recently as a professional. Marc Fairbrother also shared experiences of discrimination he experienced as a young Japanese American, before he stated emphatically, “Enough is enough.” Chris McCabe spoke about initiating a greater breadth of programs for students, inspiring more young people of color to pursue architecture as a profession.

Howard Mack also shared personal reflections, that he has felt pessimistic in recent weeks, but now turning hopeful and pushing for all to challenge ourselves to be introspective, to challenge ourselves to change. He thanked AIA|DC for the platform and said he was “grateful for the discussion.”

MMD President Michael Marshall shared a personal statement and also reflected on the importance of the AIA taking actionable steps, holding architecture firms and other companies accountable for their actions, rewarding those who promote diversity, inclusion and equity. He spoke of the importance of diversity in our profession, as architects are responsible for designing communities that reflect diverse voices.

“We can set the framework now and get ready for a time in the future that, for our children and their children, is equitable and just. We shouldn’t let them down.”

View the entire Town Hall video here.