Architecture, Race, Academe: The Black Architect's Journey - Ted Landsmark & Robert R. Taylor at MIT
SANTOS: I'm Adele Santos, Dean of the School of architecture and Planning here at MIT, and it's my pleasure to welcome you all on this hideous evening, actually. It's great that so many of you came, and I want to thank Mark [INAUDIBLE] who is, I think, here, and Darian [INAUDIBLE], wherever he is sitting. There you go, Darian. For doing this, actually. For coming with the idea, for doing the research [INAUDIBLE] and making this event happen. We're very proud that [INAUDIBLE] at our school. Just a few words about MIT and the kinds of issues that are going to be discussed today.
MIT takes on-- when problems are presented, it often takes on the issues with great speed and helpfulness [INAUDIBLE] for example. It went out of its way to deal with issues of equity, and I think from that period onward, the whole issue of increasing diversity on our campus has been something that's constantly discussed. It may seem that we are rarefied, but the truth is we've looked at the numbers of students from all over the world, from all sorts of different ethnicities increasing by year. It's improving from the number of black students and Latino students. We've also been making an equitably large effort to try and bring in a more diverse faculty.
The truth is we do bring in quite large numbers of black faculty in some disciplines but we do a lousy job of somehow keeping them, and getting them through the process to tenure, and this is something we're very acutely aware of. I've been here for three years now, and we have somebody sitting on academic council that meets every week who actually is in charge of some of these issues, particularly when we say under represented minorities, which really, includes women still today, although I think the issues that have been problematic for women have been on the process of being solved.
We, in our school, also have a committee that deals with issues of diversity of which Mark has been a lead player for quite a time, and we are the first school at MIT to have hired somebody who's full-time job is to be the manager of diversity recruitment. And where are you? Could you please stand up? This is Robin Chatwin, who is--
Robin is charged with helping us get the best database we can in the world. She's here to work with our diversity committee. She's here to work with the student committees, and I felt that if we went on talking about it, and didn't actually have someway to be looked after on a day to day basis, we weren't doing as good a job as we can. So Robin, we were very fortunate to find her. She's got her PhD from MIT, and EECS by the media lab. So she knew MIT. She knew our culture, and bless her, she put up her hand, and said I'd like to do this, and here she is. And I've heard you'll have a chance to speak with her, and I'm sure she'll be asking your help in all sorts of ways. So that's Robin.
So I would like to now turn to welcoming Ellen Weiss, who received her PhD from the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne. And she's now a professor of architectural history today at the University, and somehow survived the flood, and is there actively trying to keep the school together [INAUDIBLE]. She has received many awards for her work, and she studies the history of African American architects.
One of the people she focuses in on is Robert R. Taylor, who graduated from MIT very early on. He was the first black architect to graduate from this degree in architecture, who went on then to have a glorious career, and was very influential in the building of [INAUDIBLE]. So we thought it was appropriate to start with you, Ellen. And the drawings, as you probably all realize now are from Taylor's thesis we have in our collection, and it's outside the [INAUDIBLE] really quite interesting. So with that introduction, welcome, and thank you.
WEISS: Dean Santos, the news is better than that. Robert Taylor is MIT's first black graduate, not just the school of architecture, and he's also the first professional trained African-American architect, and was the first who was trained in the school [INAUDIBLE] when I was trained. I think that's very significant, and quite wonderful. I'm very grateful to MIT for inviting me here. I want very, very much for MIT to realize the historical gem you have.
Robert Taylor was the first academically trained African-American architect, and MIT's first black graduate, class of 1892. He spent his career as a teacher, administrator, and designer of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a residential vocational high school in east central Alabama. He designed around 40 brick buildings there, and elsewhere, plus some unknown number of wooden ones. It was Taylor's good fortune-- I completely forgot they come with slides. It's my responsibility.
Is it on? Yes, there we go. There he is. There he is in 1906. It was Taylor's good fortune to be born in Wilmington, North Carolina, which was a prosperous port town with, before the civil war, many, many excellent black builders, and some builder architects, both slave and free. During Reconstruction, Wilmington even had black residents on the city council. It was ideally close to being something approaching an integrated city, except of course, as many of you know, it all erupted and reversed in 1898 with the so-called Wilmington Massacre, but we're not going there. Taylor wasn't there at that time.
Robert Taylor's father was a literate [INAUDIBLE] slave, who's own-- technically save-- who's own white father and master allowed him the personal freedom so that he could prosper as a merchant, carpenter, and contractor. This is the Taylor family home, which was built by his father, Henry Taylor, only now we have the little [AUDIO OUT] Robert Taylor standing on the right in the final photographs. He's always on the edge of the group, and I wanted to linger on this to point out the little boy there was Taylor's son. But instead, he worked as a builder for a year or two, and then went north to MIT.
Taylor's MIT years were a success, as Clarence Williams has shown. He was at or near the top of his class, and awarded a scholarship for the second two years of his four-year course. While Taylor's architecture appears [INAUDIBLE] in course four, were distinctly Yankee, his larger institute class would have been international. A description of the class of the previous year put it this way, raised at the edge. 67% were white complexioned, 33% dark, 11% wore eye glasses, and one was color blind, and 50% thought they had mustaches. Taylor clearly belonged in the later 50% as well as the 33%.
The academic schedule was demanding, with too many courses by modern standards, and such particular architecture course for horrors is called [INAUDIBLE] drawings [INAUDIBLE] done on the blackboard to then unspecified scale. Course four had an art based pedagogy, with history lectures with paired slides, weekly supervised trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, prestigious research in the library, monthly designed problems, and juried reviews. As one student wag put it, where is an all well-conducted abattoirs, the customs is to slaughter before rendering, the process here is reversed, and all work is rendered first, and slaughtered afterwords.
Taylor also learned from MIT's own construction, namely the purpose designed architecture building that was up the after he left. Pearce building was the six story, industrial structure with a stone and brick mason facade that freely mixes classical, medieval, and industrial elements in ways that suggest-- I think suggests aspects of what Taylor would eventually imply at Tuskegee.
Taylor's final thesis. An ideal to own during the lifetime of practice was a home for civil war veterans from both North and South. I need to interject a little bit parenthetically right here. Taylor is not MIT's only contribution to MIT, an engineering student named Harry B. Taylor didn't graduate, but was probably around at about this time, arrived at Tuskegee shortly after Taylor did, and stayed there for his entire career. This is something that [INAUDIBLE] students can take on.
Taylor was corresponding with Booker T. Washington somewhere after graduation. While he was a, quote, building mechanic at a hotel on Martha's Vineyard, Washington was recruiting university educated African-Americans for Tuskegee. He also wanted a black architect to design the expanding campus, and to prove the race's ability to a watching world. Washington with seeing the young Richard Morris Hunts, three large buildings go up at the Hampton Institute. Architects, Washington learned, can best articulate an institution's purposes.
Taylor then went to Cleavland to begin a practice, but soon accepted Washington's lure, arriving at Tuskegee in November 1892. His first Alabama completion was the frame industry's building, and another school, and he probably also drew the cottage plans and elevations that Washington gave out to farmers who attended the institute's self-help conferences. Tuskegee was always about outreach. It's mission, a vast rural hinterland with hundreds of thousands of very, very poor, usually landless farmers, sharecroppers, tend farmers. Brick buildings at Tuskegee began with-- it was first called science, and then Thrasher Hall, and then the chapel.
Inside the chapel, I particularly liked this photograph. It's very hard to get photographs inside the chapel, but these are not students. These are the farmers. This is a farmers conference, and when you think about how these people from the dregs of the bottom of society were invited into what would be the vastest building they probably could ever enter in their lives, and the building was electrically it. It was the first electrically building in the county. I think that we begin to understand the meaning and the significance of this young [INAUDIBLE] architect makes it a [INAUDIBLE].
Chapel. The Oaks, which is Booker T. Washington's home, Boys Trades Building, and Huntington Home. There would have also been innumerable wooden cottages, barns, rural schools, and other service structures. Teaching, however, was Taylor's heaviest task. There he is at the edge. Since students had to draw everything they were to make, every trade-- steam filling, plumbing, shoe making, tin smithing, tailoring, carriage building, wheel routing started with plans and elevations because drawing promoted modern industrial processes, and was thought, consequently, genuine intellectual growth.
Drawing had a racial dimension because it taught planning, or as they thought, turned the executive thinking that slave artisans, who supposedly worked only under strict supervision, were thought to have lacked. Taylor also developed advanced drawing courses for the building trades, and a pre-professional post-graduate architectural certificate that he awarded to [INAUDIBLE] major, the future architect, William Sydney Pittman. Tuskegee's army of drawing students probably overwhelmed the teacher, contributing to his 1899 decision to return to Cleavland. It took two instructors to replace him.
In Cleveland, Taylor worked for a white architect with some Rockefeller commissions, and then on his own, but he kept Tuskegee as a client. From Cleveland, he did the Girls Industries building, and here it is more recently, but not now, which was called Dorothy Hall. The Lincoln Gates, and that's actually Dorothy Hall and the chapel behind it.
In fact, they all have the same donors-- the [INAUDIBLE] step-sisters of New York who gave the gates, and Dorothy Hall, and the Chapel. The boys and girls the bath houses. Here's the boys bath house. When you work on a project too long, and you find that it's lucky you have a shot of it because it's since been demolished, and Huntington Memorial Academic building, which I'm going to show you in color because tragically, that too was gone. It burned.
Taylor returned to Tuskegee around 1902, but now as Director of Boy's Industries. He headed 20 to 30 trades divisions, each with its own shop, classroom, and faculty. As an academic administrator, he was responsible for hundreds of students who were enrolled in a complicated curriculum that interlocked with the academic program, and with much greater difficulty, with income-generating industrial production. Tuskegee depended on such commercial enterprises as printing implemented [INAUDIBLE] or brick making for income and in Washington's theory, to win intolerance. We know now, of course, how tragic such hopes turned sour elsewhere, but Washington and his successors actually made it work for Macon County.
Tuskegee remained an oasis of safety when other places weren't. Tuskegee also projected a quasi-Utopian image to the northern philanthropists that it was supporting because it fed, clothed, and sheltered itself with its own skilled hands, while preparing the students to go out, and do the same for others. Because Tuskegee constructed its own buildings, it also failed to tailor to coordinate simultaneous jobs among the various shops, seeing to it that material, foramen, and student workers were smoothly deployed, and the buildings came in on time, and within budget.
He was also responsible for campus infrastructure, the endless drainage and sanitation problems, power and water supply, walkways and roads, and the minutia of individual office and classroom needs-- hanging a picture, or cutting a doorway, or getting the graffiti washed out of a bathroom. It is hard to imagine how he did it all while simultaneously running all of the industrial divisions, and after hours, designing buildings. He seems to have credited his education for his ability to juggle multiple tasks, but he also rested by reading, nurturing a special fondness for Shakespeare.
Taylor's architecture from 1901 until 1915, when Washington died, included still more brick buildings, such as the Carnegie Library, which is still alive and well, at least on the outside, not the inside, Rockefeller Hall, the four Emory dormitories, the office building, Douglas Hall-- that's an entrance into an auditorium. He started taking advantage of the slope, the arched part and the low part. Tantum Hall-- whoops. Douglas Hall, White Hall. This is White Hall. Tantum Hall.
I skipped Andrew Hospital for various reasons, but there is a hospital in here. The veterinary hospital. The veterinary hospital, and the new laundry. He also designed Carnegie Library for Wiley University in Marshall, Texas, and Livingston college is my favorite, so I put it last. Livingston college in Salisbury, North Carolina. He did not design the largest building of the period, Tompkins Dining Hall, and you're seeing it from the rear, so you can see how big a complex this one is. Perhaps-- and this is my speculation-- perhaps, because he did not trust himself to work at a scale that demanded steel framing.
A white experienced courthouse did it, but our guy represented the Institute and the architect to each other, shaped Washington's programming and planning decisions, argued the project before the trustees, and after the white guy's untimely death with construction, figured out how to set the dome on wood trusses-- kind of see that there's a dome-- dome on wood trusses without having posts interrupt the dining room's spacial unity that Washington very badly wanted.
Taylor's buildings revealed his MIT-trained Bozart roots, even when there are no obvious classical elements on display, as there are in the new Laundry. They are characterized by triadic masons-- this is what you're supposed to see here-- with emphasized centers that are embraced by flanking units that lend a strong sense of horizontality to the mass. They have finely tuned proportions, syncopated arrangements of window shapes and sizes.
This is the stair hall being picked out from the back of a dormitory. This is a case where there's a real skin flint donor. I think I have the front of it. Taylor wanted a two-story broader veranda that would have more Palladian impacts, centralizing impact, and the donor was too cheap to allow it. So Taylor-- let's see if we can reverse it-- got his jollies by doing the back like that. Didn't cost a cent, I would hope. Occasional bursts of wit-- [INAUDIBLE] out of order here. Those are the syncopated windows. Occasional bursts of wit, hence the rhythmic play on the second level.
There's nothing that really demands that, but I think the rhythm of the entire facade, and we can't see the entire facade, suggests that somebody very clever is doing marvelous stuff with minimal means. And contrasts between sharp-cut window voids, and the wall planes that display Tuskegee's richly textured homemade bricks. Tuskegee's bricks are almost a kind of icon of the institution, and I'll try not to go on and on about that. Just leave it up there. Governor Washington talks about when you get discouraged, think about the first brick making. We almost failed, but we carried on, and we could build our school.
A few structures do break into the formal rhetoric of projecting homes under entablatures and pediments. Latin and Greek in the words Washington would use when you want to put down what he considered useless pretentiousness. Washington once told the students that John D. Rockefeller, who had given Tuskegee a plain but elegantly proportioned dormitory-- this is not it.
I'm a little bit messed up here. Who had given a plain-- just leave it on this. A plain, but elegantly proportioned dormitory, always used words of one syllable, rather than two, or two rather than three. Rockefeller used no Latin or Greek quotes, and he was the richest man in the world. Full-blown classicism of early 20th century negro buildings also raises thorny critical questions.
The classical portico on Tuskegee's Carnegie library-- and this is what we want now, and here's Tuskegee's Carnegie Library-- appeared the same year that the new Alabama Constitution stripped most black people of the vote. Whites were using classical imagery on similar institutions, including courthouses at the same time that this was built, and at the same time they were sanctioning violence to enforce the increasing Jim Crow restrictions running through the South.
During the 1920s, Taylor partnered with a younger Carnegie-trained black architect, Leo Persley, on still more Tuskegee buildings. The [INAUDIBLE] Children's House was the center of it right there. Sage hall, James Hall, and the quad for the new college department with a larger science building, and a new library building. Here, much larger facilities, and more normative, and perhaps, less interesting to us. You have to get into at least some of them.
This is Logan Hall, which actually combines a gym and an auditorium in one space with a stage at the end, and underneath the stage is as swimming pool. This became a neighborhood cultural center with first run movies, and famous musicians who would travel through. The white town, white Tuskegee, could definitely afford anything like this. Tuskegee was really triumphing over the town itself. Taylor personally also did substantial structures elsewhere.
This is at Selma University in Selma, and I can't show you-- and it's just as well because it really is pretty awesome-- a 64,000 square-foot, seven-story colored Masonic temple cum office building that was also the social center of Birmingham's black elite through the age of segregation. Important building. I don't have a decent photograph of it. Most Taylor and Persley buildings were contracted to the black-owned Wyndham brothers firm in Birmingham, a company in which Taylor was invested. Taylor seems to have had inherited his father's business acumen, and had many investments, and little businesses on the side, about which I wish I knew more. He's had five children through college.
Throughout his life, Taylor's personal reticence and tact served the cause of interracial diplomacy. He traveled often to New York to meet with trustees or donors. In 1923, he was the ranking administrator on campus when the Ku Klux Klan paraded through. The clan was trying to intimidate the Institute into accepting white medical staffing for the adjacent Veterans Administration hospital for black patients. Taylor stared the clan down, while Tuskegee's principal, Robert Russa Moton and the NAACP were negotiating the issue in Washington D.C. Tuskegee won.
Taylor helped investigate the refugee camps for African-Americans displaced by the 1927 Mississippi River flood, concluding those in which blacks shared in the management were far better than those in which they did not. His diplomatic skills joined his educational vision and design talents in 1929 when he traveled to Liberia to help found the Booker Washington Institute. Taylor analyzed Liberia's agricultural and industrial potential, outlined a curriculum to support it, advised on governments and staffing, sketched a campus plan, and designed a few buildings. He then capped the trip and his career with a grand tour of Europe.
In 1932, the 64-year-old-- and I don't know that he's 64 there, but just deal with it. The 64-year-old Robert R. Taylor suffered a massive heart attack. He was visiting his son in Chicago. He retired shortly thereafter, returning to Wilmington so he would not embarrass his successor. There, he lived a gentleman's life with a townhouse. I don't know that he did it. I think, probably, he did not, but we need to learn about that one. With a townhouse and a waterside retreat about 20 miles away. He had a car and a driver so he could travel between them.
Taylor had another 10 years and used them well as an admired townsman whose word mattered. He served as the first African-American on the board of a black state college, and he worked with a powerful white man, as it happened-- and this, I think, is amazing-- a leader of the 1898 massacre to try for New Deal funding to help local farmers gain better status to get a better community for local farmers, and recreational facilities for the black teenagers. Taylor wanted to return to Liberia to continue that work, but his health did not permit it. He died in the Tuskegee chapel in 1942 while on a visit. He had just pronounced the building his masterpiece.
Taylor left a record of kindness and generosity, along with a becoming modesty about his own achievements. He was a lovely man to know, his daughter-in-law told me. She never would have known about this MIT degree had not others told her. When I complained to a grand-niece it was hard to find out about him, she replied and with some asperity, I thought, that he was too busy helping humanity to keep up records about himself.
Taylor believed in work for its own satisfaction, and attention to detail, financial prudence, religion for the solace it can bring one, keeping one's word, and service. Finally, when I asked his son if Taylor thought he was more an educator or an architect, Edward Taylor split the difference. Robert R. Taylor thought of himself as an educator, and here the pause was deliberate, but he knew that he was an architect. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you, Ellen, for that talk. Before I introduce our keynote speaker, I'd like to give you some background and the reason for this conference. Two years ago, the committee was curated under Stanford Anderson from the Department of Architecture to steady the situation with under-represented minorities. There are many parts of that study, and many of them, which can be discussed, perhaps, later on in the conference later tomorrow. There was one element to say the least that was shocking.
We discovered that we had graduated only six African-Americans at the M-Arch level in the past nine years, versus 2,210 non-African-Americans. So that's roughly three African-Americans for every thousand non-African-Americans. Meaning that MIT had done a terrible job recognizing the problem, much less providing any leadership in it. Perhaps it was because the department was so international, with people and languages from all over the world filling our corridors that we didn't notice. I don't know, but what I do know is that the failure to recognize this low graduation rate was a mistake on our part, and there's no sense to sugarcoat it now.
The graph that I show here is roughly the graduations in the last 100 years. Whereas women have risen remarkably over the last 30 years, and constituted here at MIT, as in most places in the US, 50% of the student body, the story of African-American students is not so rosy, nor even so promising. We graduated no more African-Americans today than we did in the late 1950s. In fact, given the bump in the late 60s-- you can sort of see there's a little bit-- it goes up in the 1960s and early 70s, in which there are several alumni here in the audience. We can say that we are doing, perhaps, even worse than we did in the 1960s after 50 years.
Now, I don't know if other schools are facing similar situations, I do suspect so, but that doesn't change the message that we have for you here today, which is that the first step to change is certainly to recognize our own failures, and this we have to do quite publicly. It is the first step to rebuilding trust. Part of the reason for this conference is therefore to learn how to speak of the problem, and it's not necessarily an easy task. I for one, had to learn how to do it myself, and it began when I talked with David Sledge, who is coming in from Georgia. Stuck somewhere, I think.
SPEAKER 1: There he is. It was [INAUDIBLE] student, some five years ago, something like that, and I asked him one day out of the blue what it was like to be the only black student in the department, and he answered that it was the first time anyone here had asked him that question at MIT. I didn't really understand the depth of what he had meant at first, but it began to slowly sink in. So I thank him for that conversation, and for the conversations we've had since.
I've learned from Larry Sasse who teaches here in the department about issues of tokenism, and questions of mentoring, and how, in some sense, the whole issue of African-Americans is a question of discourse. And I learned from conversations with Dan Hendricks, who is also sitting somewhere here. Up there. With conversations about him, and it was these conversations that led us to the conference itself when we sat around, and we said, well, we have to do more than just talk about it. We have to bring in people to have an open and frank discussion about teaching, administration, and about architecture, about the profession.
And to learn to see the problem not just as an African-American issue, but as a broad cultural issue in the field of architecture and architectural education, for which all of us, white and black, national and international, should have a claim. There is no magic bullet, that is for sure. The issue is complex and multi-faceted. But 10 years from now, we will be in a better position than we are today, that much I guarantee you. 10 years from now, we hope that MIT will no longer be seen as an example of the problem, but as an example of the solution.
The Chairman of the Department of Architecture, Yung Ho-Chang, who is somewhere over there, Dean Adele Santos, Provost, and Culbert, and others at MIT's administration have committed MIT to understanding the problem, and to working with us on this issue. So on these two notes, which are the note of honesty and of optimism, I would like to introduce our keynote speaker, Ted Landsmark. He's known nationally and internationally for his commitment to the questions of architectural education, and as a spokesperson of the African-American cause.
He's the director of the Boston Architectural College, located just across the river in the Back Bay and I'm glad he didn't get swept into the river walking over here. He's received fellowships from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, the National Science Foundation, he serves on an editorial board of the magazine of Architecture Boston. Landsmark also serves as a trustee to numerous arts related foundations, including Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, and Museum of Fine Arts. Ted, welcome to MIT.
LANDSMARK: Wow, this isn't pointing this right. How do I advance this? Excuse me, while we do some technology, I've served as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture over the course of the past year, and in that capacity, I've had an opportunity to get to about 70 of the accredited architecture programs around the country, of which there are now either 116 or 117, and we'll talk that differential towards the end of my comments.
One thing that's quite clear is that the kinds of issues that you're trying to address here-- hopefully, this booming will go away in terms of my microphone. But the kinds of issues that we're being called upon to address here are, obviously, not listening to MIT. I taught here in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning a number of years ago, back in the late 70s, at a point in time when a lot of these issues were being raised, a lot of this talked about it at the time. A lot of us tried to do something, but the issues have not gone away, as I think everyone knows. I'm going to talk a little bit about race and architecture.
I'm going to talk a little bit about architectural education as a broader context for trying to understand some of the issues that we need to address if we're going to be specific about developing some solutions for the issues of race and architecture, and I also have to talk just a little bit about the practice of architecture, the profession thereof. As I think many of you know, the VAC is a practice-based learning institution. So all of our graduates have to work three years in firms before they can graduate, and as a consequence, I get to see a lot of what's going on in firms these days. And what's going on in firms, to a large extent, I think, replicates or echos what has gone on in schools.
I should also note that ordinarily, when I've been called upon over the course of the past year to try to discuss these issues, the conversation is with American Institute of Architecture groups, or various licensing groups such as NCARB, which means that ordinarily, I'm speaking to audiences that are 98% white, and usually about 70% male, and ordinarily, those groups are groups that have to be persuaded that some form of diversity is a good thing. That they need to think about and address because, by and large, if there is any American profession that has gotten away with the kind of benign neglect of diversifying itself over the course of the last 30 years, its architecture.
Law addressed these same issues 30 years ago, medicine addressed these same issues, business schools addressed these same issues. They developed solutions, and when you go into those kinds of schools, you see a very different student. In fact, they make up [INAUDIBLE] in design schools. So change is possible, but it's only possible in the context of a broader cultural and professional set of changes, and whatever MIT elects to do will be very important, and useful because MIT is clearly viewed as a leader within that field of architectural education. But you're also taking on an entire profession which has elected, to a very large extent, to ignore these issues completely.
There are about 100,000 licensed architects in the United States at this moment. That's a convenient number because it helps to get the percentages very easily. It's probably closer right now to about 102,000. Of that 100,000, as far as we've been able to tell, 1571 are African-American, and of that 100,000, 186 are African-American women out of 100,000. The upcoming issue of Architect Magazine, as far as I know, is doing a cover story. I don't know if it's out yet.
AUDIENCE: It's out.
LANDSMARK: OK, I haven't seen that, but this conference was reported in Architectural Record, and Architect Magazine has taken note. The magazines took note of this 30 years ago too, and they didn't do much about it. The hope is that at this point, these numbers will change. The Cambridge School of Design that I'm referring to-- actually, I have a more updated number.
It's not 36. I think it's actually 48 that that well-known Cambridge School of Design have graduated over the last 35 or 40 years. That number shows up shortly. In the entire commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are 29 licensed African-American architects. One J. Lee just came online, but then we lost one through death a couple of months ago. So the numbers have not changed. 29 out of about 3,000.
This slide, I normally have to put up for my white audiences. Here, presumably the fact that you're here in the midst of a blizzard and northeaster means that you get it. This jumped twice. Diversity is important because the market that they serve has become diversified. It is global, and as long as the American Architectural profession purports to be in a position to understand the cultural, ergonomic, aesthetic values of most of the world, and is a profession that remains with 1.5% African-American participation in that profession, we can't really hold ourselves out to be the kind of profession that can really serve the world very effectively.
The total number of architects in the United States has increased very slightly over the course of the last decade or so. There was a slight dip, which was brought on in part by a recession in the early 90s. That doesn't show up here, but the actual numbers of architects in the United States have not changed dramatically. Here's the why is this important question. This is a profession that tends, particularly when one focuses on the effects of modernism on architectural education and the like, to hold out that it's possible to plant the same kind of building anywhere in the world.
But in fact, there are many of us who believe that that does a disservice to the clients in those varying parts of the world. And what we've found is that certainly from a marketing point of view, and this is what I always have to explain to affirm principles, being a more diverse firm opens more opportunities for that firm. It creates a better kind of and richer dialogue within the firm, as more people of diverse backgrounds bring different kinds of perspectives.
I remember when I was at Yale, for example, and we were asked to design a public housing development, some of my classmates actually planted a baby grand piano in the drawings that they did, and I as a kid who grew up in the projects knew that that was ridiculous, but as of the time that I was in school, those students had no idea of the inappropriateness of that. Plus diversity is the right thing for us to do.
The other thing that's interesting is that there is more of a need for architects in the world today than at any time in our history, but the profession itself is not growing as such. So to a large extent, whether it's because of the objections that many practitioners raised, and engineers, and developers, and builders are taking away all of the work of architects, that's one issue. But the larger issue is that the profession itself has not embraced what its responsibility is to really provide service to all of the people in the world who need architects.
So in a funny, but not so funny way, this profession is the only major profession that I've found in the United States that in proportion to the world need, is actually shrinking, and it's becoming a niche profession that celebrates a certain kind of architecture, but not, in fact, the kind of architecture that needs to be done. When I've done this presentation to student groups, which again, are primarily white, and young, and full of enthusiasm, and really terrific kids, and all that sort of stuff, the first thing I have to point out to them is that in 25 years, their clients will not look like what they look like, and that they need to get used to that idea, and figure out how to adjust to that.
It's an interesting slide in that it talks about the percentages. When we look at American professions, where do architects stand in relation to other kinds of professions? The 129,000 figure is a somewhat soft figure. In fact, a census data-- the most recent census data, argue that there are almost 200,000 people in the United States who declare themselves to be architects. Only half of those are licensed.
So somewhere between 100,000 to 200,000, there is a number of people who are practicing this profession. That number is not important in of in itself. What's important is that in relation to other professions, basically there are 10 accountants for every architect in the United States. There are five doctors for every architect. There are more than 10 engineers for every architect. So we start with a small number of individuals who are actually practicing this profession.
And there's always been discussion about why it is that African-Americans and other people of color don't go into this field, and often, it's not-- the argument is put forward that the smart black guy isn't going to become an architect because he can't make as much money. He's going to become a lawyer instead, like I became a lawyer rather than becoming an architect. But the reality of the circumstance is that in comparison with other professions, architects earn a living wage.
And what we've discovered from some of the polling that we did, some of the studies that the American Institute of Architects undertook two years ago, what we discovered is that, in fact, the people going to architect don't go into architecture for the money. None of us do that. We go into it because we like to make stuff. We're builders. We're makers of things. We're designers of things, and that the economic incentives in and of themselves are not sufficient disincentives for people to go into this field.
Indeed, when one looks at the AIAs old figures in terms of what it is that architects earn in the United States, one would have to argue that, in fact, most of these are living wages, and I know that our BAC graduates, when they come out of school, if they know a little bit of Revit, are starting in the $50,000 to $55,000 range, which is not a bad starting salary. It takes you a long time to get there, but it's hardly a poverty wage. And that, in fact, principals of major firms in this country, owners, are earning six figures, and some good six figures.
So the argument that's often put forward that people of color don't go into this field because they can't earn enough money in it is pretty much a bogus argument. And then when people say that to me, I also flip the argument around and ask, well, if people of color are too smart to go into this low paying field, what's wrong with all the white men who do? Are they all really coming from white shoe backgrounds? The answer is no, they're not. So the economic side of all of this is bogus.
Because there's so much text here, I've added some slides of some of the architects we ought to think about. Those people who have, in fact, constituted the foundation of black architecture in this country. So we know that there are 100,000 architects, and we're going to get into some more detail here around that. Hopefully it will be discussed in further detail tomorrow. There are about 33,000 folks in our architecture schools, and we'll get to that number in a moment.
But of the 200,000 people who declared themselves to be architects, roughly 20% are women, a little bit less than 3% are African-American, nearly 6% are either Hispanic or Latino. It's hard to count Hispanics and Latinos because of self-declaration issues. Roughly 6% are Asian, 3% say that they are American Indian. So technically, as among those who declare themselves to be architects, about 15% are so-called people of color. In NCARB, the licensing body at this point, reports about 101,000 licensed architects.
Part of the difficulty that we have in this profession is that there's no central database from which one can draw information that tells you what the real number is because, in fact, NCARB, the national licensing body, draws its information by calling around to all of the state licensing bodies, and since many architects are registered in more than one state, there isn't a way at this moment of getting one definitive number on the total number of licensed architects.
But of the 80,000 members of the American Institute of Architects, interestingly, only 12% are women, despite the fact that for at least 10, 12, 15 years, half of the students in all of our architecture programs in the country have been women. Only 12% of the members of the American Institute of Architects are women, 2% are Hispanic or Latino, 1.5% are black, 3% are Asian. We also did some surveys a couple of years ago, now, of people who are practicing, but not members of the American Institute of Architects. And interestingly, of those numbers, about 10% are women. Well, you can see the numbers for yourself.
Architecture school graduates are interesting as well. The total number of architecture school students in the country has varied minimally in the last 20 years. It's varied from about a low of 31,000 to a high of about 33,000, 34,000. The actual number of graduates in any given year is about 3,000 from all of our programs across the United States. And in comparison with who is in higher education overall, and I have several layers of data here, more than half of all of the students enrolled in higher ed in the United States are now women.
A little bit less than 10% are African-American, about 6% Latino, about 6% Asian. In Masters programs, interestingly, nearly 60% are women, about 7% to 8% are African-American, a little over 4% are Hispanic, almost 5% are Asian. And there's among those getting master's degrees in this country, only about 2% of all master's degrees that are awarded in the country are awarded in architecture. The vast majority are in business, engineering, law, health care. This does not count education fields, where there are huge numbers of individuals, and EEDs, and PhDs. But as among traditionally defined professional degrees, architecture amounts to only 2% of all of the degrees that are awarded in any given year.
So of our 33,000, almost 34,000 architecture students, a little bit less than a third would be considered minority, and as you break it down in terms of levels of programs-- and these numbers start to get particularly interesting for us. In pre-professional degrees, there were only 116 African-American graduates of pre-professional degrees in 2003, which was the most recent year we had data on this. In our B-Arch programs, there were only 116 graduates from B-Arch programs nationally in 2003. In our master's programs, there were only 40 graduates of M-Arch programs in 2003 who were African-American.
And now we get to the really hard stuff, which is to say where are those African-Americans coming from? And it turns out that 37%, according to data that's been developed by Dennis Mann and Brad Grant through the University of Cincinnati, 37% of all African-American architects hold at least one degree from an historically black college or university. That means that of the 117 programs that are now accredited in the country, the seven HBCUs are turning out 37%. Or roughly 5% of all of the programs in the country are turning out nearly 40% of the African-American graduates.
So what are those schools? And again, this is from-- this was actually updated just about six months ago. Howard has turned out the largest number, followed by Hampton, Tuskegee, Southern down in Baton Rouge, Florida A&M, which is not an accredited program, Prairie View in Texas, Tennessee State, which is not an accredited program, and Oregon State. It's also interesting to see when these programs were accredited in relation to how many graduates have come out of them. And then what about the rest of us?
What about the so-called majority schools? And here, increasingly, I've only listed the schools that can say that they have 20 or more licensed African-American graduates. Columbia's at the top, CCNY, Urbana, Harvard, that's the 48 number that we've come upon, Berkeley, Cornell, Michigan, MIT reports a total of 30, Tech, Detroit Mercy, NYIT, my Alma mater, Yale, and IIT. There are some interesting patterns here in terms of urban-rural, east coast, central, Chicago, Berkeley. None of us have done well is the bottom line.
Back in 1968 with the young then head of the National Urban League made a speech to the American Institute of Architects national convention. He chastised the profession because in 1968, only 1% of all the licensed architects in the United States were African-American. Today, we've gotten it up to 1.5%. We are almost certainly the worst profession in the United States for having made any kind of change over the last 40 years.
And I hate making reference to this particular image, but it's true. If we were to triple the number of African-Americans who graduated from our programs over the next decade, we'd still only be up around 10%. And the fact of the matter is most of our programs aren't anywhere close to tripling the numbers of our graduates. So the fact of the matter is that there is every probability that unless we take radical steps, someone else, 15 years from now, will stand on this platform, and will be able to use exactly the same slides with minor updates.
One of the issues that always comes up is around what happens after folks graduate. How long does it take to get through the architectural registration exam? And to what extent is there an impact-- a differential impact-- on people of color in terms of getting to licensure once they've graduate? And the reality is that we didn't find a substantial difference, although what we did find is that in significant numbers, which presumably will be talked about tomorrow, there is a higher probability that a graduate of an HBCU will opt not to go through the abuse of going to work for a firm in the areas where most of the HBCUs are located for a three-year internship to then take a licensing exam, when they can go to work for HUD, or the Defense Department, or the Corps of Engineers.
Doing architectural work at a higher starting salary, never have to get a license, have a lifetime of job security, and never go into traditional private practice. And indeed, that appears to account to a very large extent for what happens to graduates of African-American HBCU programs. That is they choose the path that is the most logical path, and they opt not to go into private practice. And the whole question of internship raises one other very difficult issue within the context of the profession as we move forward.
I don't know if any of you were participants in the American Institute of Architects Students Annual Convention, which occurred this year here in Boston over at the Sheraton. About 1100 students came in, and the BAC, and Wentworth co-hosted those students. And one of the presentations there was from a firm in India, an outsourcing firm. The kind of firm that our architecture firms don't like to talk about a lot because of all the liability issues that are inherent in sending your work to India overnight to have your production drawings done.
And until very recently, the whole business of outsourcing within the profession was simply something that no one talked about at all. But all those friends are now out of the closet, and we managed to get a presentation from one of those firms at the AIA meeting in Boston. And the firm principal said, look, I have the ability to employ 1,000 people in my firm in India, or in similar firms in Pakistan, or China, or Egypt. You do your work here during the day, and send your work to me electronically overnight.
My 1,000 people will turn around your work more efficiently than can an intern in your office because they're well-versed in Revit. They know all of the latest software, and they're doing this kind of work for firms all over the world. We can get the word back to you the next morning at 1/5 the cost. And so students who are at this conference, at the end of the presentation, went up to some of the people from NCARB and said well, wait a minute, if the work that we as interns used to be able to do in order to develop the skill sets necessary to take an exam can now be done in India at 1/5 the cost, what kind of work are we as interns going to be doing if you hire us?
And none of the folks from NCARB had an answer to that because it is becoming increasingly clear that the kind of work that architecture school graduates have been doing in firms is now being outsourced for much less money and more proficiently. We asked a series of questions through the AIA as to what were the key reasons for people not practicing, and we did some comparative analysis of these. I can't go into all the detail here. For those of you who want to see that detail, we've posted it on the BAC website. It was commissioned work that was done for the AIA, and then the AIA didn't want to release the study.
But since I chaired the diversity committee, and worked with the firm that did the study, I thought I had some proprietary right to hang onto the results of the study. So for any of you who really want to see the full 120-page study, you can go to our website, and it's quietly posted there. But what it does indicate is that many of the reasons for folks not practicing in terms of differentials-- basically, race and gender, have nothing to do with inability to do the work, unwillingness to do the work, or even the usual bugaboo that's mentioned for women, families.
That in fact, most of the people who graduated from school have every intention of practicing in some way, shape, or form, and that the usual stuff of gee, I can't find enough people because they don't want to be this kind of work is a life. What are the normal institutional impediments that we have come upon through our studies in terms of entry into the profession? I might as well use the word. Someone else will at some point, if I don't. Racism is out there. It's alive and well in the profession. There's a lot of great talk about yes, we're open, and yes, we want to hire everyone, but racism is evident in many of the firms.
The patronage and class system for obtaining private work drives a lot of what determines who goes into work, and who can survive in this field because we all know the clients are-- private clients, in particular, are individuals who one meets through social networks, and the like, and if you're not a part of that social network, you tend not to see them. I go to many, many, many events in the greater Boston area put on by my friends and colleagues in the architectural profession, and invariably, I am the only person of color there, even today.
Lack of role models, lack of access to capital markets in order to get the work done, and interestingly, and this came out of a study that was done as much in Australia, where some polling was done a number of years ago around racial and gender differences in terms of coming into the profession, it turns out that significant proportions of women and people of color who decide to go into this field have an orientation towards doing work that would be considered community based work. It's not the kind of work that's celebrated, by and large, in our major publications, or even in our schools, or in our awards patterns.
We celebrate the high profile individual corporate work, or the individual home. We tend not to celebrate the work of the great community based architect designs of YMCA. And as a result, what tends to happen within the context of studio culture and other culture is that we celebrate exactly the kind of work, which is not the kind of work that most women and people of color come into this field to do. And so there's not much of an incentive as among students who are studying this to feel as though the kind of work that we might want to do is the kind of work that's likely to be celebrated.
Let me also note, again, in the context of the wider profession, what the key issues are that deans-- and these are American deans-- view as the key issues that are coming up in terms of both education, and what's happening in practice at this moment, and these are interesting issues. Interdisciplinary design, effective design, and communication. Finally, there's a recognition that many, many architects are wonderful designers, but totally unable to express themselves in any form other than graphically. They can't write, they can't speak, they can't present, and architecture firms are increasingly saying we'd like to have some people here who know how to present their work as well as producing it.
Sustainability, of course, technological growth, human health and safety, and issues around licensure. And let me just say that the licensure issue was viewed as somewhat abstract for me until last week when I found out that the Canadian equivalent of NCARB, our American licensing group, has just collapsed. The four major provinces that represent about 3/4 of all of the architects in Canada have decided to withdraw their support from the Canadian equivalent of NCARB, and in doing that, they've decided that they are now going to write their own provisional exams.
And I've shared that information when I got it with the NCARB folks just two or three days ago in Philadelphia, and they haven't heard it yet, but clearly, that's going to have some ripples and repercussions for things like international reciprocity of licensure, and the ability to work across national borders generally, and the fact that certain American states like California and Texas have been moving in that direction anyway. So the question is what are we educating our students for if we're thinking that they're going to become licensed at some point, if the very structure of licensure seems to be collapsing? And that's something that remains to be answered.
BIM, that is Building Information Modeling for those of you who aren't in the middle of it, and performance based software integration, the whole set of issues that comes up around embedded intelligence in design software. Suburban and urban growth, increasing globalization, design build processes, project delivery. Talent shortages we'll come to in just a moment, but I have to say that having visited nearly 70 programs in the United States, most of our schools are not talking about BIM at all. We do talk about growth issues. We do talk about globalization, but one is hard pressed to go to an architecture school that's talking about design build processes. They're out there, but few in number.
And I've raised one other issue, and that is to say that as of next fall, there will be a major conference. This occurs every five or six years, during which the very structure of architectural education is going to be reassessed, and perhaps, revised. And as we've started talking about all of this stuff, I remind folks that the last time we had one of these conversations, which was only four or five years ago, things like BIM, and integrated practice, and Revit, and outsourcing, and work sharing were not discussed at all.
And yet we came up with a set of guidelines for what architectural accreditation should be without reference to any of these things. So whatever we talk about next year, which will set the standards for what architectural education will be until 2015 is almost certain to be a discussion about a number of things, which none of us have begun to think about in terms of what design education will be, and how that will also be affected by cultural, racial, and gender factors.
I always like to ask what are the skills that we really bring to the architectural process? What is the value added that any architect brings to a client? How does one change a slide if it doesn't want to change? And that is, ultimately, knowledge of clients, and the ability to listen, which is not something we generally teach in school, needs and interpretation for our clients, which some of us teach, problem analysis, and problem solving, the ability to innovate, which MIT has always been spectacularly good at. I always loved teaching here. Anytime I worked out into a Carter, I felt as though between the students and faculty, we were on the cutting edge of knowledge in the universe, and I know that that continues. So that's not an issue here. And project management.
And I have to go through this list because as we talk about globalization, and its impact on education generally, there is a poll, and I think they finally wrapped it up, that was done by the European equivalent of the Association of American Schools of Architecture. And what they asked was, what is it that firms in Europe are looking for in design school graduates? And it turns out that what they found is very similar to what the American Institute of Architects has also found in its own polling. Number 10 on the list is the ability to develop trans-disciplinary understanding. Nine is the ability to learn. Eight is the ability to evaluate evidence.
Seven on the list is design skill. Six is the ability to apply knowledge that one has obtained in school to practice. Five is the ability to create designs that satisfy ascetic and technical requirements. Four is the ability to work with a high degree of both autonomy and collaboratively. Three is the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams. Two, interestingly, are the personal and social skills in expression that enable one to interact with a client. And number one has nothing to do with design as we traditionally understand it. Number one is the ability to have critical thinking and analytical skill. Sorry to skip over Robert Taylor, but you heard about him.
We also need to think about what it is that comes out of our schools because there's a panel tomorrow that will be talking about education, and how we go about assessing quality in the schools. Obviously, great faculty and resources, innovative academic depth. Again, not an issue here. Design within rigorous curriculum, not an issue here. Excellent students, not an issue here. But there are a bunch of things that throughout this contextualizing of what it is we're training for, there are a bunch of things that we have to ask why is it that people of color have been excluded from all of this learning? What's going on? What is the problem here?
And we've listed some of the impediments, and we also know that there have been many initiatives that have been put in place over the course of the last 30, 40 years. Ford Foundation invested millions of dollars in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects, starting in the late 60s and into the early 70s, in supporting scholarships. I can look around this room. I will do this because I have to do this periodically. Are there any people in this room who know anyone who got one of those Ford AIA grads who became an architect? No.
The point is that millions have been invested in efforts and initiatives that no one bothered to track the effectiveness of. So we did a lot of feel good things, and those feel good things got us from 1% to 1.5%, and that clearly hasn't been good enough. So the recommendations that have been put forward to try to change all of this, include increasing public awareness of what architecture is. I mean, let's face it, most people have no idea what we do.
Ensuring adequate resources, that usually means scholarships, but it also means other kinds of resources. Increasing the visibility of architects of color, hence the images I've included here. And expanding the nature and diversity of leaders within the profession, growing people, and putting them out front so that more people know about the work of Mel Mitchell or Robert Colts.
Improving licensure rates and developing mentoring programs. And part of what we realized is that there are not-- if there are only 1571 African-American architects in the United States, they can't all be mentors as such. So it means we've got five different kinds of mentors to step out. I am not, for example, a licensed architect, and yet I've won the AIAs Whitney Young award for my work in this field because I believe in architecture.
There are many other people like myself who believe in architecture who are not licensed architects, who are prepared to try to work to change the numbers. We have to be called upon, but the profession tends to have so much hubris and insularity that it tends not to look to us very often for what it is we're prepared to try to contribute.
Requiring diversity training within our firms, certainly, but ordinarily, we try to start with our local AIA components, where people just sort of take it for granted that they're so smart, and capable, and tolerant, and outgoing that, in fact, they don't need to understand what it is they're doing in their firms. Like the firm principal who came to me once, and made a suggestion as to what color of colleague he would like me to-- like to see me showing up at social events with as recently as four months ago. People just don't get it.
And then finally, a set of more specific recommendations that we're working to develop that hopefully, people will talk about here and elsewhere. One of the things we realize is that by and large, the folks who go into this field have been exposed to it fairly early on, without regard to race or gender. Someone in the family was involved in construction, or had a hardware store, or took him to Home Depot a lot to do minor repairs around the house. It's something people are familiar with, and we need to start earlier than high school to begin to introduce folks to things.
Corporate involvement of design supply companies. It struck me that in many respects, the easiest way to do outreach would be to serve a card table out in front of a Home Depot, or a Lowes in a community of color, and have your schools sit there, and say this is what it is to be an architect. We want you to think about coming into this. Recruiting design school faculty of color from fields other than from the 1571 licensed architects. They can't maintain practices at the same time that they're in a classroom teaching. You're asking us to do too much. Giving voice to students of color in design schools.
I see one of my recent graduates here, Brandi Brooks, who now runs the Community Design Center of Boston. And when she was in school, we saw to it that people knew who she was, and all of our schools have to do that. Promoting a broad diversity of opinions within private design firms, which doesn't happen a lot these days. Monitor the government and foundation diversity programs that exist at this moment to raise the question of whether they're just feel good efforts, or something that really has an effect, and acknowledge and support the cultural globalization of design practice. And that means recognizing that while our schools and our firms are not necessarily up to speed with the diversity of design, the reality is practice is.
And finally, there is a major effort that's being made at this moment. Finally, it's among the architects organizations-- to do what has happened in law and medicine for the last 30 years, and that is to develop systematic data tracking so that one knows who's enrolled in our schools, what programs they're in, who graduates, who goes into IDP, who takes the ARE, who becomes licensed, where at this moment, again, there's no centralized data source that enables us to know all of that.
And literally, within the last few weeks, the collateral organizations that oversee architecture and architectural education have finally begun to ask those questions, and to develop a unified data tracking system. And there are a bunch of questions that we hope that this data tracking system will finally help us to answer. So thanks. Yeah, I'm into the global economy too.
And I didn't get to print all of these out, but I'll see to it that we get these. Until about five or eight years ago, there were not a lot of useful sources of information on any of this, but the numbers have grown fairly significantly in the last couple of years, and since we're in an academic environment, here are some good references for you, including Mel's book and a couple of others done by folks who are here.
So I'll say one last thing, which is in most respects, the hardest thing to say because you're not supposed to know this. 37% of our African-American architects come from HBCUs. For the first time ever, our accrediting agency has had to make the difficult choice to discredit one of our 117 programs because of the weak performance of that school. I know because of my position that that school has received a letter, and that the faculty at that school are now meeting with their administrators to try to figure out what should happen because there are only seven of those schools.
So I can't tell you who the school is because it's not appropriate. I will say that to the extent that any one of our HBCUs fails that we have a major problem in terms of increasing diversity within the profession. And what is, for me, most poignant and ironic is that that school that has lost its accreditation is one of the schools that Robert Taylor had the most contact with.
Now, all of us, as was the case at Tulane in New Orleans and the Gulf region, all of us at schools figured out how to come together after Katrina to provide support for faculty and students who ran the risk of having their academic careers fundamentally disrupted in the post-Katrina era, and as a result of things that all of our schools did, students who were at Tulane and at other schools in that area, were able to complete their studies and graduate because the rest of us came together to help out.
I would submit to you that over the course of the next day, as you have your conversations, one of the things you need to think about is how we here in this room, and in other schools that are doing well will have to come together literally over the course of the next two to three months to provide some aid and support for one of our schools where because of the lack of accreditation, students who graduated last year, and students who are graduating this year will not be eligible to take a licensing exam because they will have graduated from a non-NAV accredited school.
So if we're going to talk about doing anything, let us talk about the help that we need to provide to those schools and students who are most in need. And with that, you have an overview, and let's have a great conference.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] third from the bottom. Good or bad, you just named-- I don't know if it was inadvertant or not, but you did name the school.
LANDSMARK: I made a reference to it.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, you named it. Now, and I hope this is something we're going to get a chance to talk about tomorrow because the fundamental issues as to why that school failed isn't anything anybody at MIT did or didn't do. It goes to the heart of some issues that we in our circles have to really, really talk about. Whether this is the proper venue or not, I don't know, but you get my drift here?
LANDSMARK: Well, yeah. What we try to do when we find out these kinds of things is to make sure that there are appropriate offline venues for these conversations, and I would anticipate that over the course of the next day or so, there will be a number of appropriate offline venues where this can be discussed.
AUDIENCE: Got you.
DAVIS: I know the focus is an academic focus here, but in my experience and practice is such that so much of the work is in our profession is tied to a tradition that's a gentleman's practice. So many of my colleagues have learned-- I learned about architecture because my mother used to drive us around as kids to look at houses, and that's how-- but it was not because of anything deliberate in the culture that supported me. The person who built our house was a black architect and builder not registered in the state of Florida, but he build because he grew up in a segregated community, and he had a clientele.
Today, and as I was growing up, most of the architects that I knew were successful developed that success through a clientele that was government, community based, some churches. Most of the architects that I know who got their starts, got their starts in the social fabric. I feel very strongly that the schools have a role, but that role is very, very limited in the sense that from a practice point of view, the ability for us to begin to strengthen the social fabric, and let's talk about that more aggressively, and how we begin to get people to think about in our communities, being more aggressive about doing that is where it's at.
I don't think the problem of race are going to be solved because white people decided to do the right thing. I think it's going to be solved because white people understand that this culture will not sustain itself without functioning in a way that embraces all of us. And it's not going to be solved because black people put pressure on white people. It's going to solved because black people begin to think more aggressively and creatively about how to provide a social structure to build our own communities.
LANDSMARK: It would be helpful in that regard if you said who you are and what your current work is.
DAVIS: My name's Curtis Davis. I'm a [INAUDIBLE] architect, but I've made a choice to be an architect from the client side, and I work with the Smithsonian Institution.
DAVIS: Why you going to play me like that?
The National Museum for African-American History and Culture.
LANDSMARK: Thank you.
DAVIS: But the point that I'm trying to make about this question of building, who builds, how we build is what informs the school. I don't think that schools inform the process. The schools ought to be reflections of what the community demands, and needs, and that's where the support will come to the schools. And if the schools have a role today in this transition, it's to raise that question, and bring that debate to the table in a real, meaningful, and aggressive way.
LANDSMARK: One thing I'll say about that is that it's been interesting to me that more of that consciousness has emerged from the students themselves than from most of our faculties.