Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

Is There a Black Architect in the House?

03/16/2007 5:30 PM 34-101
Ted Landsmark, President and CEO of the Boston Architectural College; Mark Jarzombek, PhD '86; Ted Landsmark

Description: -If there is any kind of profession that's gotten away with a kind of benign neglect of diversifying itself over the course of last 30 years, it's architecture," says Ted Landsmark. With one chart after another, he plots the dismal record of design schools, firms and professional associations in modifying their singularly white profiles. Of the 100 thousand licensed architects in the U.S. today, 1,571 are African American and 186 of these are African American women. In 2003, a mere 40 Masters students graduated. And more than 1/3rd of these graduates obtained their degrees from an historically black college or university. The rest of the schools offering architecture educations have graduated a few score of African Americans, compared to thousands of white students. -If we were to triple the number of African Americans who graduated from programs over the next decade," says Landsmark, -we would still only be up to 10%." Why are law and business much more diversified professions than architecture?, queries Landsmark. He cites one argument that -smart black guys won't choose to become architects because they can't make as much money as lawyers." But compensation levels are just fine, he notes, and -if people of color are too smart to go into the field, what's wrong with all the white men who do?" The economic side is bogus. Instead, Landsmark notes that most black architecture graduates of historically black colleges opt to avoid the abuse of working for a firm and taking a licensing exam when they can go directly to work for HUD, or the Army Corps of Engineers. Landsmark also cites the patronage and class system involved in obtaining private work, which -determines who can survive in a field." White social networks deprive African Americans of start-up opportunities and access to markets. There's also a noticeable absence of black role models, and African Americans' own orientation toward -community based work that is not celebrated by publications, schools or awards." At a time when there is a greater global need for designers, and when architectural firms are eager to tap into new markets, the nation can't continue to ignore the African-American talent pool. Among other solutions, Landsmark suggests increasing public awareness of architecture, targeting young people. This might mean scholarships, or putting card tables out in front of Home Depots in communities of color. Architecture firms should invest in their black associates -- growing their careers and increasing their visibility, and establish mentoring programs. Radical steps must be taken, he says, -or someone else will stand here and use the same slides" 10 years from now.

About the Speaker(s): Prior to his work at the Boston Architectural College, Ted Landsmark was Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education at the Massachusetts College of Art. He also served as the Director of Boston's Office of Community Partnerships.

Landsmark has received fellowships from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the National Science Foundation, and he serves on the editorial board for Architecture Boston. Landsmark also serves as a trustee to numerous arts-related foundations including Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Landsmark is widely recognized as an important advocate of diversity and of the African American cause in schools of architecture. Landsmark earned a B.A. and J.D. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Boston University.

Host(s): School of Architecture and Planning, Department of Architecture

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

Created
December 13, 2011 19:13
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
2691 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

Rusnano: Fostering Nanotechnology Innovation in Russia

Rusnano: Fostering Nanotechnology I...

Added over 2 years ago | 00:51:54 | 5283 views

How Did We Get Here?

How Did We Get Here?

Added over 2 years ago | 00:40:48 | 1462 views

Expand Your Mind: Getting a Grasp on Consciousness

Expand Your Mind: Getting a Grasp o...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:44:00 | 2012 views

Marketing the Arts: The Secret Weapon

Marketing the Arts: The Secret Weapon

Added over 2 years ago | 00:52:17 | 2725 views

Toying with Transmedia: The Future of Entertainment is Child's Play

Toying with Transmedia: The Future ...

Added over 2 years ago | 00:51:18 | 6818 views

Cause for War? Assessing the Bush Administration's Case Against Iraq - Part 1

Cause for War? Assessing the Bush A...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:29:00 | 1370 views