At the 2020 ABX Women in Design Symposium, an inspiring panel of women hosted the Who Belongs? Architects’ Role in Equitable, Inclusive Design workshop. Representing a spectrum of architecture firms – Rebecca Berry of Finegold Alexander, Patricia Nobre of Gensler, Sindu Meier of William Rawn Associates, Diana Nicklaus of saam, and Studio G’s Gail Sullivan provided their diverse perspectives in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusivity in design practice.
The broad presentation and lively discussion included:
- The architecture firm leadership and staff composition has changed – just 3 decades ago less than 5% of Registered Architects were women. Now, 3 of the firms represented on the panel are women-owned with a diverse staff across gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBTQ demographics.
- Today’s firms finding ways to support staff with flexible schedules, greater autonomy, and remote work opportunities even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
An overarching idea, posed by Patricia Nobre, of “designing to the edges” to address the anonymous client and underserved populations with “radical humanisim”. Several projects serving homeless and/or substance users illustrated the importance of inclusion through design. The panel examined the use of biophilic design along with acoustics, signage, accessibility, and safety to create the welcome those most in need of equity and inclusion.