Ten Years of the Architecture Lobby
Getting many people to speak with a single, unified voice is harder than it sounds.
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Ten years of the Architecture Lobby have brought noise, melody, and everything in between.
by Anjulie Rao
In its early days, the Architecture Lobby aimed its activities toward consciousness-raising, encouraging its members to lead the conversations that typically happen around the office water cooler or after hours at the bar and address what we all know but maybe haven’t always felt comfortable saying out loud: that architecture is traumatic and exploitative and that it relies on that trauma and exploitation to perpetuate its business practices. Over time, the organization’s ambitions have grown, and now it is attempting to reshape the design professions by popularizing broad goals like unionization, cooperativization, a just transition, and racial and gender equity. Unlike typical nonprofits in the United States, most of which are structured around an overarching mission met by measurable outcomes, the Lobby is dedicated to a process of movement building.
But building a movement that can meaningfully accomplish an array of goals as ambitious as the Lobby’s is tricky. Since 2013, the Lobby has undergone a series of structural changes that have yielded concrete programs, working groups, and pedagogical resources to support Lobby members in their organizing. Consequently, the organization has found itself engaged in two simultaneous battles. The first is plain to see in its mission and manifesto: the organization wants to transform the profession into a more just version of itself. At the same time, the highly hierarchical culture of the profession has embroiled the Lobby in a second, quieter struggle: getting many people to speak with a single, unified voice.
Architecture needs more Scabby the Rats. (Plus: the origin story of a certain NYRAT.)
by Kate Wagner
Scabby the Rat is my favorite architecture critic. No, really, I’m serious. No one embodies the spirit of criticism in all its playfulness, its combativeness, its under-sung and decidedly on-the-ground quality. One often forgets that protest is also criticism, perhaps the purest form of criticism there is. When I’m holed up in my office typing up my salvos, Scabby the Rat is there on the street, doing the work of drawing attention to architecture’s basest and most insidious injustices, those that intersect with labor, with exploitation, with the fact that architecture doesn’t just happen on Instagram and in design schools but in the real world.
The NYPD has had an affinity for the militaristic since its inception.
by Mark Talbot
Evidently, the cutting edge of New York police architecture is a pile of twelve concrete boxes by Bjarke Ingels Group. It is the 40th Precinct Station in the Bronx, now under construction. Does it matter that its slot openings and embrasures pointed toward the neighborhood beyond make it look like a military fortification in a hostile territory?
Policing expert Arthur Rizer has found that police officers using military equipment feel they can get away with more—the equipment makes them look scarier—and that they “don’t care” that this changes how the public feels about them. Not just the tactics and weapons but the aesthetics of policing play a role in their societal estrangement and “looks like” goes a long way toward “acts like.” So, yes.
New York Review of Architecture reviews architecture in New York. Our Editor is Samuel Medina and our Deputy Editor is Marianela D’Aprile. Our Publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
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