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BSA News

Feb 04, 2021

BSA Update on Equity

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Graphic design by Aditi Thota

The BSA is dedicated to making architecture accessible for everyone, whether it be through profession or passion, and creating equitable and diverse paths to the industry. We work to be a resource and advocate for architecture that is inclusive of all cultures and abilities, and reflects the lives that it is built to serve.

We know there are many problems still to be identified and solved, but we are proud of the work that our devoted members have been doing over the past months and would like to share what is coming to encourage all to be involved in the change they would like to see in the world.

Designer Partnership Session

The BSA, BosNOMA, and ACEC hosted a virtual “speed-dating” event on January 7, 2021 aimed at creating opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses (MBEs and WBEs) to participate in Division of Capital and Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD), and Designer Selection Board (DSB) projects. Those firms who self-identified as sub-contractors met with primes in a rapid-paced round-robin with participants being shuffled from one breakout room to another every 10 minutes to make new connections. The lively event hosted 182 participants representing 32 prime firms and 74 subs. Of those 74 subs, 36 were either MBEs, WBEs or both. There was some great feedback which offered a roadmap for making this an even more effective event in the future, including:

I just wanted to thank you for your efforts to pull off this unique event. It was the best networking event I have attended since last year, considering all the constraints.
I want to thank you and all that hosted the Designer Partnership Session yesterday. It was a great initiative and wonderful to see so many participants. We appreciate the significant effort that it took for such an event. We were able to speak with several people and make some new introductions so we look forward to future collaborations with those we met. We also look forward to participating in the next such partnership session.

Great job handling all of the attendees at the DCAMM event today! It was one of the first virtual networking events that I have thought went very well and allowed for effective collaboration with others.
Impressive effort, and this is definitely a worthwhile event. Thank you to you and the team behind it!

The next Designer Partnership Session will take place in June and aims to involve an even greater number of MBE and WBE firms to increase representation on state contracts within the commonwealth to promote equity in the selection process.

Race & Architecture

The more we listened in our Race & Architecture 2020 series, it became apparent the more we still need to learn—and do. Racial injustice and the lack of diversity in architecture brought a lens to who we are and where we are going as a profession. It showed us that there are radical steps we as a society can take in order to implement change. What tools will get us there?

Race and Architecture 2021 will be platform serving as an incubator, accelerator, and a connector of ideas to solve systemic issues in the built environment through a racial equity lens. Our February 9 Visioning Workshop will be a brainstorming session to develop frameworks in three focus areas: education, profession, and community and to collectively discuss tools that can make an impact.

The Future-Decker exhibition and conversation series focused on exploring new ideas and approaches in addressing Boston’s housing needs, including the need for middle-scale multifamily housing for all. The exhibition was the result of partnering with residents, WIT students, Local Voices Network, and Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and Housing Innovation Lab to share the past, present, and future of the triple-decker. Co-curators Wandy Pascoal and Pat Falco recently discussed Future-Decker in a conversation with the City:

[On Future-Decker]
The Future-Decker Conversation series is a part of our Future-Decker exhibition, where in the past year we’ve been having conversations and doing work around learning about people’s experiences with triple-deckers in the city from the perspective of environmental, financial, and social values of the triple-deckers. We then showcased our findings on a virtual exhibition and hosted a Conversation Series to expand upon the topics that we highlighted in this virtual exhibition. We invited guest speakers to talk about what it looks like to do a deep energy retrofit to your triple-decker, what it takes to purchase a triple-decker today, and also to envision the future of this iconic New England building type. It’s also about learning what the current housing development looks like in the city, and figuring out ways to engage with this complex process.
We finished off the exhibition and the conversation on January 20, and the recordings are all available to watch here.

[On Wandy's fellowship impacting work]
We are a “pilot shop” and “test shop” for new ideas in the city and always welcome opportunities to collaborate with new and different kinds of partners, even if these ideas are just in the exploration phases. Earlier on [in Pat's residency] we had discussions about mobile eviction prevention stations that could go out to different neighborhoods so that folks could have access to legal resources during this really difficult time—and this has in many ways helped inform other areas of work. We want to continue to cultivate this cross-pollination of ideas.
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The EDI Network is one of the BSA's 40+ Knowledge Communities and meets monthly to discuss issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the design industry. The group recently reviewed the AIA Guides to Equitable Practice and created their own, condensed version of the guide which you can view here. This guide serves an entry point for members and member firms looking to tackle big issues around EDI in the profession.

In addition to the guide, the network has created another resource, Firm Examples of EDI Policies and Procedures. This goal of this collection of sample policies, practices, and procedures is to act as a resource while shaping your own policies to encourage EDI in the workplace.

Interested in shaping the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion within the BSA community? Join the EDI Network.

EDI Taskforce and YW Boston

The EDI taskforce was a BSA board initiative started in 2018 in reaction to the #MeToo movement. The taskforce gained traction again last summer as the country was embroiled in a long overdue movement of racial reckoning. The taskforce works closely with BSA staff and leadership to revisit internal policies and practices, and works to reimagine the role the BSA can play in making the architecture profession more inclusive and equitable for all.

In an effort be more intentional about our EDI work, the BSA has been working with YW Boston, an outside consultant. In the fall of 2020, facilitators from YW lead BSA board, staff and leadership through a five-week program series called InclusionBoston. This series prompted candid discussions about race and identity, the history of racism and racist structures, and how we can drive organizational change to combat long-standing, inequitable policies—both within the organization and within the profession. Our goal is to develop a data-oriented action plan which will address key things the BSA can do in order to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.