O P I N I O N
Architects as advocates
It’s our responsibility as AEC professionals, as well as citizens, to champion solutions to problems that affect our global and local communities.
A s architects, we are increasingly called upon to do more than make buildings. While we once pursued our practice as members of the world of design, now we are concerned with the design of the world. I believe it’s our responsibility as architects, as well as citizens, to champion solutions to problems that affect the global and local community.
Using our participation in a recent campaign for designing bird-friendly buildings as an illustration of a successful effort, I’ll outline four steps to getting an effective advocacy campaign off the ground: 1)Get consensus on your cause. In this complicated, interconnected world, there’s no shortage of compelling issues to investigate. Our Managing Partner Guy Geier recommends a two-pronged approach to activism in architecture, distinguishing issues from within the profession, such as increasing diversity, equity, and licensure, from broader societal issues, including climate change and resiliency, preservation, and affordable housing. As director of sustainability, I’m acutely aware of the AEC industry’s responsibility to address aspects of climate change that are damaging our ecology,
and of the need to build consensus to sway opinion. Buildings are one of the primary causes of a nearly 30 percent drop in North American bird populations over the last 50 years. Before considering legislation for bird-safe buildings, decades of scientific research was conducted to build consensus on causes of the collision issue, and solutions to it. And, bird-safe building examples had to be built and studied. 2)Define your message. While pinpointing an issue is helpful to honing your focus, that approach can be limiting as well. Making the conversation more inclusive broadens the appeal of your campaign while still remaining true to your core cause. We linked the bird/building collision problem to broader topics of climate change and impact on the environment, making it a shared ethical and social responsibility. For example, pointing out that while
See DAN PISELLI, page 12
THE ZWEIG LETTER MAY 18, 2020, ISSUE 1345
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