Stephen Lawrence - an architectural legacy
Stephen Lawrence wanted to be an architect. Had he not been brutally murdered on his way home from school in Well Hall Road, in April 1993, he might already have completed Part I.
At the Jamaican High Commission last Friday, members of the architectural, legal and media professions came together with the Lawrence family and their supporters, to establish the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Mrs Doreen Lawrence, describing her son as 'a very forward-thinking person', said the trust was a living legacy for Stephen. 'The aim of the trust is to help bright but disadvantaged young people to achieve their goals.'
Trust chairman, architect Arthur Timothy, who gave Stephen work experience in his office, described the pledges of support which the trust has already received:
Mohsen Mostafavi, chairman of the aa, has agreed in principle to support a bursary in Stephen's name. Priority for scholarships will be given to uk, Caribbean and South African students.
The Marco Goldschmied Trust is to sponsor a £5000 annual award for the best building under £500,000, to be presented at the same time as the Stirling Prize. Formerly known as the riba Silver Medal, it will now be known as the Stephen Lawrence Award.
Music of Black Origins will give an award in his name.
A us playwright is to stage a play as a benefit, with proceeds going to the new trust.
A donation of £20,000 was made to the trust last year.
South African High Commissioner Cheryl Carolus said that the trust should be 'a memorial to a young talented person.' Speaking of her sadness and hope, remembering other young black people in South Africa, who had also died, she lamented 'the putting out of a light, simply because of the colour of a person's skin'.
Last week the Society of Black Architects held an evening meeting at Alan Baxter's gallery in Cowcross Street, to publicise its mentoring scheme. It was established to support ethnic minority students' experiencing discrimination at college and, for the lucky few who do find work, at the office.
Others, like a young man who sent us a cv last week, end up in McDonalds or stacking shelves in Marks & Spencer. Then there was the qualified interior designer, with three languages and years of experience, who had started his own practice but was now reduced to working as a handyman in Camden Town 'for the time being'. Had he lived, Stephen might have been one of the young mentees.
The riba has been slow to act on these matters. Many other professional bodies - the Law Society, the Bar Council, teachers, even the Metropolitan Police - have been forced to review and change their professional culture. It seems that, finally, through the death of Stephen Lawrence, individual members have begun to recognise the problem of racism within the profession. To echo the worlds of Cheryl Carolus, 'We have to draw a line somewhere'.
Donations should be sent to: The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Account no 7375425, c/o Lloyds Bank plc, Bank Court, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP1 1BY.