AIANY Calls on American Architects to Stop Designing Unjust Spaces of Incarceration

The Board of Directors of AIA New York has recently released a statement discouraging the design of criminal justice facilities that uphold the current system. Taking a stand against designing unjust, cruel, and harmful spaces of incarceration, AIA NY solicited architects to reflect on the broader social implications of their work.

Stating that “for too long, architects have been complicit in upholding intrinsic racism within the American criminal justice system […] good design alone is not enough to remove or overcome the racism inherent within the criminal justice system”, the AIA NY is taking actionable steps to address the current situation. Noting that architects are not responsible to alleviate an unfair structure and that it is beyond their scope of work, the Board of Directors has called upon American professionals of the field to no longer design “unjust, cruel or harmful spaces of incarceration within the current United States […] such as prisons, jails, detention centers, and police stations”.

We […] urge our members to shift their efforts towards supporting the creation of new systems, processes, and typologies based on prison reform, alternatives to imprisonment, and restorative justice. -- AIA New York.

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The decision, effective until more comprehensive policy changes are made on a national scale, the application of the law occurs without racial bias, is completed with several initiatives by AIA New York. The measures will include examining architecture’s role in the criminal justice system, limiting construction of new criminal justice facilities, focusing on large-scale justice issues, advocating the cause so that fellow chapters adopt similar positions, etc. Read more on the AIA NY’s policy here and discover AIA’s code of Ethics and Professional Conduct here.

While we recognize that the United States is not the only country with a flawed justice system and that architects have been complicit in bias and mistreatment abroad as well, we hope these changes in chapter policy will further advance racial justice within our city, state, and country. -- AIA New York.

About this author
Cite: Christele Harrouk. "AIANY Calls on American Architects to Stop Designing Unjust Spaces of Incarceration" 21 Oct 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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