This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In the rage, furor, and sorrow that followed the murder of George Floyd, one voice in the architecture community managed to put the nation’s centuries-overdue reckoning with race into the larger context of the built environment. Earlier this month, CityLab published architect Bryan C. Lee Jr.’s essay “America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress,” an impassioned polemic on design and race that also had the great virtue of offering up specific solutions.
Lee is the founder and design principal of Colloqate, a New Orleans–based design and public advocacy firm that was named an Emerging Voice in 2019 by the Architectural League of New York. Colloqate led the Paper Monuments project in 2017, a public art and public history campaign that was launched in conjunction with the successful fight to remove the Confederate statues in New Orleans. In addition to its advocacy work, the firm is currently working on architectural projects in Portland, Toronto, and New Orleans. Last week I talked with Lee about his essay, the charged moment that we’re in, and where the nation goes from here.