The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) board of directors approved new rules to the institute’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct prohibiting members from knowingly designing spaces intended for execution and torture.
The board’s position is the design of such spaces is inconsistent with the profession’s fundamental responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public and uphold human rights.
The prohibition extends to spaces meant for indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more per day without meaningful human contact, for more than 15 consecutive days.
“We are committed to promoting the design of a more equitable and just built world that dismantles racial injustice and upholds human rights,” said Jane Frederick, FAIA, AIA 2020 president. “Specifically, AIA members are required to uphold the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Spaces for execution, torture, and prolonged solitary confinement contradict those values. This decision emphasizes AIA’s commitment to making a difference on this issue and upholding human rights for our society.”
A statement of position was also adopted by the board stating the AIA and its members:
- remain committed to working with their clients to promote criminal justice reform and rehabilitation, guided in part by positions taken by the International Red Cross, the United Nations, and other human rights organizations;
- remain focused on design solutions to promote rehabilitation to address issues impacting recidivism such as mental health, healthcare, housing, education, and employment; and
- strive to ensure the physical needs, health, dignity, and human potential of all those who come in contact with the justice system are respected and given the opportunity to flourish.
“This, among other things, reflects AIA’s ongoing effort to meaningfully address structural racism in the built environment and to uphold our professional values,” the organization said in a press release.
AIA will create a task group to better define restorative justice in the context of the profession, collaborate with its partners to identify best practices, and develop resources and educational opportunities for members over the next several months.
AIA has considered the role of architects in the design of spaces for execution and prolonged solitary confinement for a number of years and most recently engaged with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), Architects/Planners/Designers for Social Responsibility, and the Academy of Architecture for Justice, an AIA knowledge community, to gain more understanding of these issues and the larger context of justice through design, the press release said. In July, the board directed the AIA National Ethics Council to re-examine the issue. This followed the AIA’s statement on racial injustice in June prompted by social movements, demands for justice, and the nation’s unprecedented reckoning with inequity.