Should Architects Follow a Code of Ethics?

Pelican Bay State Prison © Jelson25

In the latest episode of his 99% Invisible podcast, Roman Mars bravely takes on a very sensitive topic: the design of prisons which contain execution chambers or house prisoners in solitary confinement. More specifically, the podcast discusses whether architects have a moral duty to decline these commissions and whether, as a profession, architecture should have a code of ethics which prevents registered architects from participating in such designs.

He compares architecture to the medical profession, where the American Medical Association imposes an ethical code on its members which all but forbids them from taking part in execution by lethal injection, based on medicine’s general aim of preservation, rather than destruction of life. The American Institute of Architect’s ethical code is both generic and meager in comparison: “Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors.”

Zappos to Build Intentionally Inconvenient Office in Las Vegas

Zappos is moving into ’ old City Hall building, that circular white building on the right. Image © Aimee Groth, Business Insider

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has recently invested $350 million dollars of his own money into downtown Las Vegas, where the new Zappos’ headquarters will soon call its home. Working in the vein of companies like Google and Apple, Hsieh and the head developer of the new campus, Zach Ware, have worked together on making a workspace environment in which creativity – and, consequently, inconvenience – is built into the design itself:

“‘Our goal is not to create an space that you take photos of and you say ‘Wow, that’s beautiful,” says Ware. ‘We’re incredibly function-oriented.’ Zappos’ core focus is on company culture and the relationships between employees. To enhance that, as odd as it sounds, parts of the office are deliberately inconvenient.”

Read Max Nisen’s article on Zappos’ “inconvenient,” new headquarters after the break… 

PUC Building: 525 Golden Gate / KMD Architects

Courtesy of

The PUC Building on 525 Golden Gate Ave, home of the Public Utilities Commission, could have been just another government administrative building.  But, the City and County of , along with KMD Architects, embraced the design challenge of achieving LEED Silver status.  Now nearing completion, the building is expected to exceed LEED Platinum requirements and has been dubbed the greenest building of its kind.  The architects had humble goals for the architecture as well, which included creating an “urban room” among the civic buildings in the area, creating a healthy and pleasant environment in the interior workplace to promote performance, efficiency and comfort, and represent the best value possible for the city and county of San Francisco.

Join us after the break for more.

Bertschi School Living Science Building / KMD Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Architect: KMD Architects
Location:  ,
Project area: 5,225 sqf
Construction cost: $930,000 (est.)
Project Year: 2011
Owner/Tenant: The Bertschi School
Photographs: Benjamin Benschneider

   

Cinepolis Headquarters / KMD Architects

© Michael Calderwood

Architect: KMD Architects
Location: Morelia, Michoacan,
Project area: 75,000 sqf
Construction cost: $25 million
Project Year: 2009
Owner/Tenant: Cinepolis
Photographs: Michael Calderwood