As Elsie Owusu's (poorly supported from among architects) campaign highlights, the failure/non-completion rate among Black architecture students is very very high. Not all of it can be down to 'career choice' (I don't know of any families of Black architecture students that would lightly condone their kids not qualifying for 'activism/sticking-it-to-the-man reasons'). So what why is it happening? As a young/middle-aged Black architect, I think the Euro-centric nature of education and practice culture remains a sacred cow, the concomitant of which is the devaluing/belittling of Black culture/other cultures (with some notable exceptions). A lot of my fellow architects would say that was ridiculous (which is part of the problem), but the entrenched grand narrative of Greek/Roman/Renaissance as a lens via which we understand our built environment is undeniable. Part of this is that the White (and yes and Paul Finch notes 'middle-class' which I think today is actually a euphemism for people that are really quite wealthy) Education/Culture 'system' keeps on replicating itself creating what is actually quite a hostile environment for Black people and others who originate from the Global South. If this is not the reason, then the only alternative explanation is that Black/Global-Southern people are not as 'well-suited' (read less able) to become architects as White people are (and I've been told by students that this opinion has been expressed to them). The immediate and angry denial of every other explanation, (particularly those put forward by Black people themselves) by the profession and sections of wider society is in fact nothing less than tacit approval of THIS reason. White supremacist architects and their sympathisers can continue to deny it all they want, but for Black architects, the cat has been well and truly out of the bag for ages. We're tired of discussing it now. This is not to disparage or discount the efforts of the principled and well-meaning people associated with the profession who are doing more than virtue signalling/remaining silent (there the ones who really 'didn't' see colour when they taught us or looked at our CVs), but those guys are pissing in the wind. Nowadays, in addition to the real nasties, there are a lot more people who find it easier to glue their breasts to the pavement, then to give a promising Black person a break! Well done for AJ for plainly telling like it is (albeit without outrage or fanfare, as we'd expect to receive an announcement in the mainstream media that Jeremy Corbyn has cured Cancer, or that Boris Johnson had murdered someone), but how about leading by example? Where are the Black writers (why not give one of those N.A.W guys a regular gig)? Why not a Black/BAME in architecture magazine issue (there's been a Women is Architecture one for a long time)? Perhaps they wouldn't sell? Perhaps they would actually lose you subscribers? As James Baldwin said of White American Society "You created to nigger, so you have to find out why". White society has to decide if it wants to deal with this. I'm almost past caring whether or not it does. OK gas-lighters, sorry for piping-up. The comments section is all yours now...
I'm with Sean and Andrew on this. I would just add that iit seems like quite a nice building, but it's in the wrong place and those skylights look impossible? Just when you thought there's already been peak gentrification there. Where's the critique in indeed AJ?
Interesting that Ruskin is suddenly cool!? Beautiful work in the photo but I'm not sure that a) Ruskin approved of the Gothic Revival and b) meant that architects should necessarily 'get down and dirty' so to speak. His aim was to demonstrate that the division of labour brought about by Capitalism was having a deleterious effect on architectural culture, because it made skilled artisans into 'robotic' operatives (this was also the reason he didn't like Classical Architecture, in addition to the fact that it was essentially pagan). For Ruskin, someone like Giotto was an ideal type, in that Giotto learned his trade steeped in praxis, in a workshop/guild setting (not in an academy). I don't think we can seriously say that Ruskin's ideas are so influential until the economy changes in such a way that will allow this to happen. In today's world, this type of 'artisan' based work is out of the reach of all but the wealthiest and can't have the affect on society that Ruskin desired. Ruskin knew that, which is why he wrote a book on economics, which he himself considered his greatest written work. Ruskin is one of those figures who does not reward cursory, but requires real interest and understanding.