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AIA apologises following Trump pledge backlash

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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued a video apology after a pledge to work with US president-elect Donald Trump provoked a backlash from its own members

Last week, Robert Ivy, chief executive of the AIA issued a statement (read in full below) vowing to collaborate with Trump following his shock victory

While acknowledging his ‘contentious’ election, the statement added: ’The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s ageing infrastructure.’

However the statement prompted an angry response from the American profession, with Maryland-based architect Fritz Read resigning from the body in protest and the editorial board of US-based magazine The Architect’s Newspaper slamming the conciliatory tone. 

Students from the Yale School of Architecture issued a statement denouncing the AIA for its ‘cowardly position’ while on Twitter, users – including assistant professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ann Lui – voiced their discontent using the #NotMyAIA hashtag. 

However, following the backlash from American architects, Ivy, alongside national president Russ Davidson, issued an apology video admitting that their earlier statement had been ’tone-deaf’ and did not reflect the body’s ‘larger values’. 

Davidson added: ’The AIA remains bipartisan and committed to our values. We will continue to be at the table and to be a voice for the profession, especially when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. We will advocate vigorously for our sustainability agenda, including the impacts of climate change.’ 

A number of US architects have spoken to the AJ of their hurt following Trump’s controversial election, including director of design at US architecture company NELSON Jason Rosenblatt, who described the win as a ‘disappointing step backwards for our country’.

The AIA’s statement following the US election result 

The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s ageing infrastructure. During the campaign, President-elect Trump called for committing at least $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure continue to be a major priority.

We also congratulate members of the new 115th Congress on their election. We urge both the incoming Trump Administration and the new Congress to work toward enhancing the design and construction sector’s role as a major catalyst for job creation throughout the American economy.

This has been a hard-fought, contentious election process. It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.






Robert Rhodes, AIA member practicing in London

Personally, I know Robert and I know he is a thoughtful, measured person. I feel sorry for him making such a bad call. There was no need for the AIA to release a statement so quickly after the election. He should have consulted the AIA membership, or at least waited a bit. It may be what he said is exactly what we needed to hear, but either way no one was ready to hear it. Most of us are still coming to terms with what a Trump presidency will actually mean.

In short, Robert loves the profession and loves the AIA. He is great at his job. He has made a mistake and he has apologised for it. He deserves not to be forced out.

UK-based American architect Stephan Reinke of Stephan Reinke Architects 

As President Obama has so clearly and diplomatically articulated - democracy is hard and the president-elect does deserve a chance from all of us. I support that view, even after a campaign exploiting fear and our worst angels.

However, I feel we cannot accept and must resist a ’new normal’ that takes us backwords; ignoring truth, science, the facts.

Words like ’white supremacy’, ‘climate change deniers’ and ’legislating against a free press’ must become footnotes in the early 21st century history book, not words we hear in reference to the new admiration going forward.

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