The AIA Apologizes

John Hill
23. November 2016
L: Robert F. Ivy, AIA CEO; R: Russell Davidson, 2016 AIA President (Photo: Screenshot)

Following the outrage caused by a "tone-deaf," post-election statement that the American Institute of Architects issued the day after the election of President-Elect Donald Trump, AIA CEO Robert F. Ivy and 2016 AIA President Russell Davidson issued a video apology.

Although the AIA took down the November 9th statement from its press page, the words, attributed to Ivy, can still be found all over the Internet:

The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. During the campaign, President-elect Trump called for committing at least $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure continue to be a major priority.

We also congratulate members of the new 115th Congress on their election. We urge both the incoming Trump Administration and the new Congress to work toward enhancing the design and construction sector’s role as a major catalyst for job creation throughout the American economy.

This has been a hard-fought, contentious election process. It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.

Blowback from the statement – which implies the support of a candidate who wants to build a wall to exclude foreigners, whose campaign was tinged with racism, and who denies human-caused climate change – was most vehement at The Architect's Newspaper, which collected statements (even more here) from some of the AIA's 89,000 members and other architects, educators, and leaders in the profession. In return, Ivy issued a response to The Architect's Newspaper, but it's language was not much better than the original memo from three days earlier:

To: Editorial staff at The Architect’s Newspaper

We recognize that the current, post-election environment is unique and has aroused strong and heartfelt feelings within all communities, including that of AIA membership. In this context, our recent statement in support of design and construction’s future role with the new Administration has been viewed with concern by a number of our colleagues.

The AIA, a bi-partisan organization with strong values, reasserts our commitment to a fair and just society, and also respects the right of each member to his or her political beliefs, knowing that we are all united in our desire to contribute to the well-being and success of our nation and our world.

The AIA remains firmly committed to advocating for the values and principles that will create a more sustainable, inclusive and humane world.  The spirit and intention behind our statement is consistent with and in support of President Obama’s eloquent call for us all to unite for the best interest of America’s future.

Respectfully,
AIA Executive Vice President / CEO, Robert Ivy, FAIA and AIA President, Russ Davidson, FAIA

Due to the continued outcry and spreading of the story in news outlets in the United States and abroad, Ivy and Davidson issued the below video apology on November 15th, less than one week after the initial statement, which Ivy describes as "tone deaf" and Davidson calls "a mistake." Promoting diversity and a sustainability agenda, Davidson indicates a number of listening sessions and live events that will take place in the coming weeks to address member concerns. This indicates the issue is not yet over, even though the apology has slowed down any apparent outcry toward the AIA in the meantime.

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