A look inside the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship Program, which pairs emerging architects with local development organizations to design and build affordable, sustainable communities.
DESIGNING FOR GOOD AMERICANCITY.ORG
Survival and Rebuilding in the Wake of a Man-Made Disaster Juan Calaf, ADPSR Member
The divisions between the two New Orleans are more painfully clear than ever today. There is a wealthy and predominantly white side of the Crescent City—the French Quarter, the Garden District and Uptown (the French Quarter, for example, is 95% white). This side seems to willfully ignore the socio-economic asymmetry that prevailed in New Orleans. In these areas the damage left behind by hurricane Katrina is marginal. The other side of town is a poor predominantly African-American area known as the East Bank, which includes the 7th and 9th Wards (for example, the lower 9th ward is 98% black). This part of New Orleans was severely affected by ﬂooding in the wake of Katrina. In contrast to the re-opened white areas, the 7th and 9th wards are mostly vacant because residents are unable to return to their homes. In the hardest-hit area—the Lower 9th Ward—there is a government blockade in effect because of deadly toxins left by the ﬂood waters. Outside of the Lower 9th, homes are still left without power, telephone communication, natural gas and potable water. These areas are like ghost towns. For those who want to return, and for those of us who want to help through rebuilding and reconstruction, there are serious challenges to be confronted. First, there is the militarization of African-American New Orleans. Those brave African-Americans who have managed to return are being subjected to the vigilance and curfews enforced by the U.S. Marshalls, the New Orleans Police Department, the National Guard and mercenary groups like Blackwater, USA. These armed agencies are, in part, responsible for the rising climate of fear and violence that began immediately after the Hurricane. The lower 9th ward and surrounding communities are literally “under the gun.” Second, there is the eminent bulldozing of large portions of the East Bank. Katrina brought an inﬂux of disaster proﬁteers—private contractors, insurance claims agents, and home inspectors—who are enjoying beignets for the ﬁrst time and dining at premier jazz clubs while making plans to proﬁt from evacuees’ losses. This swarm of private contractors is transforming black lower-income neighborhoods into what will likely be white afﬂuent communities. The increased property value will likely lead to unprecedented gentriﬁcation, and whole neighborhoods may be forever lost to government-sanctioned corporate land grabs. Ironically, residents from the Lower 9th have a higher rate of home ownership than the city as a whole. Out of 5,601 housing units in the lower 9th, 59% were owner-occupied compared to 46% in the city. More than 30% of the houses in the Lower 9th were built before the 1950’s and more than one half of its population had moved into the community before the 1990’s. Almost all of these homeowners were making less than $10,000 a year or living under the poverty line (US Census 2000). Because of this poverty, these homeowners are extremely vulnerable to permanent displacement and replacement. Third, assuming more evacuees are able to return, there is the challenge of costly and toxic remediation. I met a man named Charles F. Scott whose story illustrates this issue. Charles, a Katrina survivor and civil engineering graduate from Tulane University, was taking a break from working on his ﬂooded Mid-City house when I met him. He described how the water level had risen up to 8 feet, stressing the urgency of removing all mold that resulted from the ﬂooding. He commented that most houses in the city are sinking slowly because they are built on top of 25- to 40-foot deep wood piles. He feels that one solution is to replace the wood piles with concrete caissons, since they would provide buoyancy to mitigate this problem. 4
Photo: Juan Calaf
Volunteer Architects Needed To prevent the demolition of homes without notice, New Orleans homeowners need free advice from architects to assess their property. What is needed? Volunteer architects willing to: • Be “on call” to assess homes on a pro bono basis. • Fund their travel expenses to New Orleans • Provide reports, afﬁdavits and possibly testimony in litigation. We will work with each volunteer to minimize the number of trips and home inspections. Interested? Email: email@example.com, with “Volunteer Architect” in the subject line, or call 1-888-310-7473 x4 Sponsored by: People’s Hurricane Relief Fund www.communitylaborunited.net Advancement Project www.advancementproject.org Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility www.ADPSR.org
Flood remediation is needed inside of many homes. The highly toxic process begins with the removal of all the moldy sheet rock and wet insulation below the water line. According to Charles, this should be done with a proper respirator mask that can ﬁlters out chemicals and toxic microbes. Next, the wood framing must be carefully sprayed with a chlorine and water solution to kill the mold. The empty homes can be safely inhabited two or three days after this remediation work is done. One of the biggest challenges the city faces now, Charles believes, is a massive street clean up of debris resulting from the remediation work. Many workers in New Orleans came from out of state and sleep in temporary structures such as trailers or tents sitting on medians around the city (dubbed ‘neutral zones’ by the locals). These neutral zones are saturated with debris and hazardous materials that dominate the area. It is an under-statement to say that these workers operate under unsafe or unfair conditions. In some cases neither the workers nor the homeowners have a safe place to stay during the remediation work. Next door to the Lower 9th, most houses in the 7th Ward are standing vacant, continued next page
“Survival and Rebuilding” continued
yet hardly suffered any structural ﬂood damage. Some survivors, like Mama D. (Diane Frenchcoat), a long-time resident and active community leader, have taken the responsibility of staying to restore their neighborhood and to facilitate neighbors’ return. These actions are shaped entirely from the bottom up through processes of true grassroots community building. “We don’t need the ﬁsh. We just need the ﬁshing poles,” Mama D. said to a crowd of 25 people while sweeping the street in front of her house. Mama D.’s house contains all the immediate relief provisions that returnees need, having turned her house into a fully operational distribution and supply center. Volunteers have come to support from as far away as Belgium. Her house is powered by a dozen jury-rigged car batteries assembled by a volunteer electrician named Halley, who had just begun working on powering the houses of Mama D.’s immediate neighbors. Mama D.’s two-story house serves as a community organizing hub for discussing reconstruction strategies, and when I was there it was one of the few places around serving warm food, home-cooked by the 60-year-old Rastafarian every night. Most of those who frequent her house have taken active roles in the reconstruction process. Others come by the house with deeper questions— like Omar, an evacuee who came back from Chicago to ﬁnd his mother’s body. Mama D. is the only person on her block actively working to help neighbors come back before the government sells their properties. Community Labor United (CLU), led by Curtis Muhammed, is a seven-yearold coalition of 40 local grassroots organizations dedicated to promoting long-term strategies for the reconstruction of the most affected areas of the 9th Ward. The CLU’s Katrina initiative is called the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition (PHRF/OC). The purpose of PHRF/OC is to help displaced evacuees residing in other states and to create opportunities for returning residents. This work on the ground is beginning to take shape. Curtis Muhammad’s home, powered by two solar panels, is both CLU’s communications center and a boarding house for visiting volunteers.
outreach efforts including much media coverage, a website updated weekly, a local low-powered FM radio station, and lots and lots of ﬂyering. Brandon Darby, a local leading member of CGC, is currently transforming a 9th Ward day-care center into a community distribution center that will have some health clinic components like the one in Algiers. Volunteers are removing the moldy sheet rock and bleaching the infested surfaces of the building. The CGC had to make a 5-year commitment to obtain the lease, said Brandon, before they could start working on the necessary repairs to restore this structure. The CGC plans to serve hundreds of community members in the 9th ward just as they’ve done in Algiers. These community groups are doing what FEMA and the Red Cross have not. But among these community groups there are political struggles that have impeded their cooperation. For the ﬁrst time, the CLU along with ADPSR facilitated a meeting where two volunteers from Mama D.’s house, three CLU representatives and two CGC representatives got together to discuss parallel strategies. One concern raised was about race. All three organizations were created by African-American leaders—Malik Rahim founded CGC, Curtis Muhammed formed the CLU and Mama D. is the original Mama D.—yet some organizations like CGC are broadening their leadership base to a more predominantly white outside support. Mayaba, from the CLU, feels that this is an important issue. She foresees patronizing treatment of black communities by the predominance of white organizers. Mayaba was the only African-American organizer present at the meeting.
Mama D. is critical of African-American organizers who left. She never left the city during the catastrophe and says that she never intends to leave. She doesn’t have to set up non-proﬁts, like the others, and has no political agenda. She doesn’t understand why the founders of CGC and CLU have been traveling all over the country to raise money and support. Most CLU organizers haven’t returned yet since they evacuated. The biggest concern for all organizers is that half of the city’s population is residing elsewhere, and they don’t have the means to come back. The future of the black neighborhood will not be better until, like Mama D. said, “We get the We don’t need the ﬁsh. We white folk from there to meet with the black just need the ﬁshing poles. poor from here.”
Mayaba Libenthal, a community organizer and coordinator with the CLU, described the organization’s farsighted vision of creating Community Development Corporations and involvement in education reform prior to Katrina. At the 9th’s Frederick Douglas Senior High School, a coalition of students, parents and teachers formed by the CLU began transforming the neglected school into a model of learning for the community. CLU will pressure the federal and local government to demand that the High School is fully restored. Physical improvements could be made to the school in the meantime, while the Orleans Parish Public School System remains shut.
The Common Ground Collective (CGC) is operating across the Mississippi River, in Algiers. This community-led organization was originally formed after the hurricane by activists and leaders from the area. Algiers, still part of Orleans Parish, was never ﬂooded. This allowed for a speedy recovery. The organization has quickly evolved into the largest support operation on the ground, assisting hundreds of under-served in the region. The collective serves communities’ basic needs while also providing Internet access, a fullservice health clinic and housing repairs. CGC has grown into a vast network of local and outside volunteers that range from medical and health providers to legal representatives working with community organizers on long and short term relief and reconstruction efforts. They are mobilizing people across the nation through massive
— Mama D.
The wider effects of Katrina remain to be seen. On September 8 the Bush Administration suspended the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act—eliminating the need for federal contractors to pay local prevailing wages—but that decision was met with a storm of criticism and recinded in November. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote decision in June 2005 in Kelo v. New London grants more power to local governments to exercise eminent domain whenever a property qualiﬁes for ‘public use.’ It is unclear yet what this power will do to disenfranchised communities that have suffered from many years of neglect by local, state and federal government—one can only imagine. Raymond Brown, one of the few evacuees in the Lower 9th that came to look at his damaged house—which has already shifted from its foundation— says that he is not going to spend money on restoring it. He says that if his house is bulldozed, the government is doing him a favor. Many residents of the area demand that the government raise the ground level of the Lower 9th by at least ten feet. This way if similar ﬂooding occurs in the future it will be from 4 to 6 feet rather than 14 to 16. The people of New Orleans have established genuine solutions. We have a role to play to support Raymond Brown, Mama D., CLU, CGC, and emerging groups to help make these solutions become a reality. 5
P R I S O N
Legal News VOL. 16 No. 11
Dedicated to Protecting Human Rights
Prison Design Boycott—a Challenge to the Professional Business of Incarceration by Raphael Sperry, ADPSR National President, and the Prison Design Boycott organizing group: Ariel Bierbaum, Juan Calaf, Karen Kearney, and Kathleen Monroe Saying “No” to Prisons
n September 2004 the non-proﬁt organization Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a call for architects and design industry professionals to quit working on prisons. ADPSR’s Prison Design Boycott campaign challenges the role of design professionals (a term that encompasses architects, engineers and planners) within the prison-industrial complex and society at large. The boycott’s immediate issues would
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News in Brief
Prison Legal News
seem to be how necessary designers are to prisons, and conversely how much prisons mean to designers, especially in economic terms. But the professional, ethical social issues raised by the boycott go far beyond the boundaries of those who draw up the blueprints, CAD files and specifications that outline state power. The boycott also creates a collective voice for social justice and a shared platform for organizing and advocacy among design professionals, potentially signaling a departure from our established social role of implementing the will of the wealthy and powerful on the built environment. In ADPSR’s experience, many design professionals—ironically even those engaged in prison work—understand the need for community development as a holistic method of improving social conditions, including improving public safety and reducing crime. And indeed, design professionals have a special role to play in envisioning the physical infrastructure that would accompany renewed investments in affordable housing, schools, community centers, and other public needs. As a result, the Prison Design Boycott carries both a strong negative message, “No More Prisons,” and a positive counterpart, “Yes to Community Development.” In ADPSR’s analysis, the political and economic factors behind the current lack of community development in the United States are related to the prisonindustrial complex in multiple ways. The
contrast between the two is particularly sharp in public spending, where one can actually chart the transfer of funds from education (especially higher education) to imprisonment. The role of planning professionals in this decision involves more than just commenting on states’ annual budget process, however, as the cost of planning new prisons must be justiﬁed by planning on a future population of criminals to incarcerate. Such population forecasts are the stock in trade of planning as a profession; they are in fact central to the ﬁeld’s deﬁnition and claim to exclusive expertise. While never explicit, the expectation inherent in planning for a larger prison population is that crime reduction will not succeed—that today’s children will be tomorrow’s prisoners. De-funding education, and community development more generally, ensures that this expectation will be realized. At a deeper level, ADPSR also believes that the lack of social development programs—and especially the lack of political will to fund them through government—stem from the negative social values that support incarceration as a general-purpose response to crime and push for harsh prison conditions. Examining the connection between right-wing Christian conservative fundamentalists and the forces of elitism and corporate power is beyond our scope, but it is our contention that the ability of these groups to control policy is dependent upon the apathy and/or consent of the majority of our fellow Americans. Undermining the
PUBLISHER Rollin Wright EDITOR Paul Wright ASSOCIATE EDITOR Alex Friedmann EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Donald W. Miniken Jr. COLUMNISTS Mumia Abu Jamal, Andrea Cavanaugh, Denise Johnston, Daniel E. Manville, Kent Russell CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lonnie Burton, Matthew Clarke, John Dannenberg, Gary Hunter, David Reutter, Mike Rigby, Sam Rutherford, Roger Smith, Silja J.A. Talvi, Bob Williams & Mark Wilson
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Prison Design Boycott (cont.) currency of these values in mainstream culture, and ultimately transforming them into more positive values of cooperation, tolerance, and social justice, is an important strategy for achieving a broad range of changes to prisons (as well as other systems of coercive power). ADPSR’s Prison Design Boycott is an attempt to initiate this transformation among the group of Americans within our constituent professions, and also to inject a new voice into society at large that can work to effect this transformation. Some have suggested that given widespread public fear of crime, challenges to these negative social values should start with more “approachable” topics, such as protecting social security. In contrast, ADPSR believes that prisons, as the most concrete example of authoritarian control, are the most appropriate place in which to begin a transformation of how power functions in our society. For design professionals, this debate engages those of us entrusted with the shaping of our built environment in trying to shape a more just society. Despite ADPSR’s focus on organizing our own professional—and largely white and middle- to upper-class—group, we recognize the importance of organizing across racial and class lines, not only for the ultimate success of our social goals but also for the integrity of our own organizing project. A major goal of the Boycott is to create opportunities for privileged, high-status professionals to form partnerships with less-privileged groups more directly impacted by the prison-industrial complex at the individual and structural levels. As a related point, the Boycott has already brought ADPSR into contact with professional groups of people of color, who have a diversity of views on prison issues. Most productive so far has been our work with the Planning and the Black Community Division of the American Planning Association (a group of 250 or so African-American planners within the 35,000-member APA). ADPSR is encouraging and supporting PBCD to raise resistance to the prison-industrial complex as a policy item for APA as a whole—a move that would create debate about the PIC and offer educational opportunities among hundreds of APA members, regardless of the outcome at the organizational level.
Some Numbers: Architecture Firms and Prison Design Many professionals play a role in the design of prisons, including many types of designers and planners. ADPSR focused our quantitative investigation on architects both to draw boundaries around a cohesive study group, but also because architects traditionally play a leadership role within the design team on construction projects. In addition, public licensing of architects provides architects with a particular status in regards to new construction: in general, buildings intended for human habitation are required to be designed by a licensed professional. The nominal social return for rewarding architects with this monopoly is that architects agree to act in the public interest and accept the requirement to safeguard public “health, safety, and well-being.” Given the glaring (to some) contrast being between mass incarceration and public well-being, architects would seem to be fertile ground for the boycott. In addition, full participation by architects could indeed have the effect of halting prison construction (at least in theory—see below). Lastly, we recognize—with real consternation— that among the general public the title of “architect” carries the highest status connotations among the allied professions, and hence is most likely to get the most attention. At least rhetorically, architects are at the centerpiece of the design process, including prison design. ADPSR would like to make it very clear that we are not trying to shame, embarrass, or single-out the design ﬁrms that do prisons as “bad” architects. We have multiple reasons for saying this. First, we understand from personal conversations that many people engaged in prison design are attempting to improve conditions for people in prison, who often otherwise have few advocates. This intention is worthy of respect, and while other prison designers may be more interested in earning money, we know that they do not feel that they are deserving of special scorn as compared to, say, designers of shopping centers or subdivisions that promote urban sprawl or have other negative social consequences. Second, we have benefited from, and continue to deeply appreciate, dialogue with prison designers. In many ways, they know more about prison design than we do, especially when looking at the level of individual institutions, although they see it in a different context. Prisons are multi-
Prison Design Boycott (cont.) faceted institutions that have surprising corners, and we have learned much and gained a much stronger understanding of them thanks to our conversations with their architects. Finally, just as we recognize that the line between those in prison and those inside is not a simple division of the “good” from the “bad,” we also recognize that all-too-easy error of judging designers by the type of work they do. We make no personal evaluations because of the type of work these fellow professionals of ours are engaged in, and we welcome their continued engagement with ADPSR.
Sources and Overview Reed Construction Data’s 2002 ProFile is a construction industry resource that lists a large percentage of all architects in the United States and gives their self-reported answers to a range of survey questions including the types of work they perform and the percentage of work that falls into each category. The ProFile is partly sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the largest professional organization of architects in the U.S. (similar to what the AMA is for doctors). The ProFile has listed “corrections” as a distinct ﬁeld within architecture since the early 1990s, which is in itself an indication of the growth of the ﬁeld within the profession. While the ProFile is a highly imperfect source (for instance, because many participants do not report all information, or use the same ﬁeld for different data), the list of “corrections” designers suggests some revealing trends about the architecture ﬁrms that design prisons. To put the ProFile data in context, we used aggregate data about the
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architectural profession from the AIA fact sheet Facts, Figures, and the Profession, http://www.aia.org/press_facts, the AIA’s 2003 Firm Survey, and Building Design & Construction magazine’s “Giants 300” listing of 2005. Overall, prison design is a small fraction of the design business as a whole. The AIA’s breakdown of total professional revenue for 2003 gives “Justice” as 2.3%; in this context, “Justice Architecture” refers to the design of prisons, courthouses, and police stations. A rough estimate then is that prisons are about one-third of this 2.3%, or maybe a little more, since they are bigger and more expensive than police stations. We would estimate that prison work is 1% of all revenues for the architecture profession—hardly a bread-and-butter issue. Given that the total gross revenue for the architectural profession was $25.5 billion (also in 2003), prison design would seem to be worth around $250 million per year (40% of which is for renovations or additions, rather than new buildings). By comparison, according to the American Correctional Association’s Directory for 1998-99, annual prison construction expenditures were over $4.3 billion (including $1.3 billion in maintenance and repair projects).
The Prison-Design Workforce 673 architecture ﬁrms reported designing prisons in 2002. While there is probably some under-reporting, given the 16,500 architecture ﬁrms in the US, this is about 4% of architecture ﬁrms. These 673 ﬁrms together employ 37,000 workers, or almost 20% of the total design workforce. How can 4% of ﬁrms employ 20% of the workers? Prison design is weighted towards larger ﬁrms. Counted as full-time workers, we would estimate that between 2,000 and 7,000 people are actively engaged in prison design in the United States, approximately half of whom are architects (many ﬁrms in the ProFile did not report some of the information for calculating this, requiring us to extrapolate). We can estimate that the average gross revenue per designer is between $35,000 and $125,000; given the typical earnings of architecture ﬁrms, the higher numbers are more likely, making a lower number of total workers more likely.1 By comparison, as of this writing (November 2005), ADPSR’s Boycott campaign has over 400 signatures, including over 100 licensed architects. While this is less than 1% of the profession over all,
this is between 4-20% (probably more than 10%) of the number of total prison designers. It is quite conceivable that within another few years of work, the number of designers pledging not to work on prisons will be larger than the number of designers actively doing prison design. To our knowledge, only one signer was previously engaged in prison design (see below), but given the small numbers involved, each individual counts. Our student signers are also signiﬁcant because they represent the next generation of sought-after talent. To quote Art Gensler, chair of the largest design ﬁrm in the U.S., “getting key people is a big issue for us, and for our [engineering] consultants … young people don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘Gee, I want to do ductwork for the rest of my life.’”2 The threat to the prison design business from a generation of designers who don’t want to do prisons either could be substantial.
Specialists And Generalists Of the 673 ﬁrms involved in prison design, only a tiny handful of ﬁrms (probably 10 or so) get 50% or more of their revenue from prison design. These are small to mid-size ﬁrms, with some sole practitioners (i.e. one-person businesses). We suspect that the lone individuals tend to do consulting and planning to prison agencies rather than direct design work. The largest ﬁrm in this group, Shremshock Architects, Inc. of Ohio, has 31 architects and reported that 85% of their work was in corrections. What does the existence of these specialist ﬁrms mean? For one, it conﬁrms the inﬂuence of the PIC by showing private industry’s adaptation to it. But they stand out more by counter-example: most ﬁrms that design prisons do not over-specialize in it. Over 90% of the ﬁrms reporting corrections work report that it accounts for less than 20% of their billings, and for over 60% of ﬁrms doing corrections it is less than 10% of their billings. On the other hand, larger ﬁrms tend to have specialized teams for handling different areas of work— prisons, airports, apartments, etc.—that are comparable to separate design ﬁrms. So a large ﬁrm like HDR Architecture, with 689 staff people and 22% of their work in prisons, probably contains an internal group of 100-150 people dedicated to prison design—much larger than the team at Shremsrock. Prison projects are reputed to be especially lucrative. A peculiarity of the architectural world is how this lucrative
Prison Legal News
business element is used—not necessarily for greater take-home bonuses, but to subsidize design efforts. In other words, prison work is said to give design ﬁrms the extra staff time to make other projects better—maybe even projects that serve public needs such as affordable housing. Of course, the idea that the needs of disadvantaged groups can only be met with compromises that involve losses in other areas is a staple of staving off real progress for social justice.
The Big Firms Some of the largest architecture and engineering ﬁrms in the world participate in prison design, including HOK (the #1 largest Architecture-Engineering firm in the country, with $223 million total revenue in 2004) and URS Corp. (the U.S.’s # 1 largest Engineer-Architect, a frequent military and “homeland security” contractor, with $1.9 billion in 2004 revenue). A brief look at the prison-industry trade magazine Corrections Today found ads from 6 design ﬁrms, including DLR Group (16 ofﬁces, which range from 5%-65% corrections work), the Durrant Group (30% prisons work), HOK, HDR (8 ofﬁces averaging 22% prisons work), Heery International (816 total staff), and STV Architects. Of course only the biggest advertise in this fashion: all 6 are among the top 100 largest ﬁrms in architecture and engineering. It is sensible business practice for ﬁrms of virtually all sizes, and especially for large businesses, to diversify in order to be prepared to resist downturns in any one market area. If prison construction dries up (as we intend for it to), specialized units within larger ﬁrms can be re-assigned to other project types. One critique we have frequently heard of this phenomenon is that a common area of re-specialization is public school design, which shares features with prison design such as dealing with complex and bureaucratic public agency clients, additional specialized building codes, and increasingly complicated mechanical and security requirements. The fear that a wholesale move from prison design to school design will produce schools that are more like prisons seems realistic in the context of a society employing more and more authoritarian approaches to education such as “zero-tolerance,” high-stakes testing and dress codes, not to mention an increased police presence in respond to hysteria over school shootings.
Prison Legal News
Prison Design Boycott (cont.) On The Other Hand We would like to note that prison design is by no means essential to success. Prison design is 1% of the total earnings of the profession, and over 95% of architecture ﬁrms and architectural workers do not perform prison work. Of course, prison design is highly specialized and hard to break into, but on the other hand it is less competitive than many sectors and highly lucrative. In this context it is signiﬁcant that the # 1 largest architecture ﬁrm in the country, Gensler, does not engage in prison design at all (anecdotally, likely for liability reasons). Similarly, Arup, one of the world’s largest engineering companies, will reportedly not work on prisons or nuclear power plants, although ADPSR has not succeeded in conﬁrming the company policy or the reasons behind it. Other very successful medium-sized architecture ﬁrms avoid prison design as a matter of policy (rather than simply because of alternate specializations); we hope that ongoing work on the boycott will produce conditions in which more of the profession will feel comfortable in making a public commitment to social justice.
Prison Design and Individual Designers—Responses to the Prison Design Boycott The Prison Design Boycott has succeeded in generating a signiﬁcant amount of discussion about the ethics of prison design—and, by extension, of prison in general. The design press—Architectural Record and Architecture magazines, architecture websites and blogs, etc.—have published pieces about the campaign and various responses to it. We have also
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received many individual responses from those signing our pledge, and a small number from those angry at our campaign. Some responses have come from people in prison or formerly incarcerated, including one licensed architect. In so far as ADPSR hopes to effect transformation of ethics about prisons (and violence and militarism more broadly), reaching individuals is an important part of our work.
Positive Responses One of the early major successes of the boycott campaign was the decision by Matthew Smith, an employee at prison design powerhouse DLR Group, to quit his job in favor of boycotting prison work. Matthew (now an ADPSR board member and active boycott organizer) wrote: “I was hired a few months ago by the Seattle office of DLR Group, a national architecture/engineering firm that promotes itself as the largest justice architecture ﬁrm in the US (they also have corporate, retail, & education departments). And, after a brief stint in their retail studio, I was placed in the justice studio where I have been involved with several large-scale prison projects. “For weeks, I’ve been troubled by the work that I was assigned to. While there are many ﬁne individuals here, the ﬁrm’s ‘bottom line’ has fed my worst fears about a profession that sells itself out to the highest bidder without regard to social consequences. The whole company eagerly embraces new prison jobs, as the fees eclipse all other design fees—especially those for schools. Our principal architect—an old modernist himself—boasts of the efﬁciency with which these jobs can be accomplished on account of the repetition involved in the plans. But, as a rather idealistic young professional, I have been increasingly depressed listening to conversations about suicide-resistant materials, mechanical systems that can handle pepper-spraying (gassing!), and the all-new razor-fencing... “The psychological hold on the ofﬁce staff as to the ‘correctness’ of our job is dubious. I have been told stories of prison walk-throughs where, for instance, these skilled professionals were locked in the cell of the ‘Green River Killer’, the infamous NW serial killer, for 10 minutes to ‘see what it’s like on the inside.’ I am left wondering how these otherwise intelligent people are duped into viewing each prisoner as a Green River Killer—effectively rationalizing the
work they do.” Another view on the role of prison architects came from former San Francisco assistant sheriff Michael Marcum, who ran the city’s jails for a number of years and was involved with at least four major construction projects during that time. Despite his former job, Marcum is an outspoken advocate of prison reform and abolition, and he assisted ADPSR as part of the selection panel for a poster competition associated with the boycott in September 2005. In our discussion, Marcum recalled prison design meetings: “With all the people around the table—my staff, the budget guys, cops, and others—it was always the architects who would stick up for the things that would make conditions more humane for the people in jail, so I think they’re already thinking this way. All it would take is a little extra step for them to see that more jails aren’t the solution at all.”
Negative responses On the other hand, the two most common negative responses the boycott campaign has received are from people who don’t want fewer prisons and dislike the campaign in general, and from people who feel that the negative message of the campaign—speciﬁcally, the call not to build things—is in opposition to the essential purpose of architects and architecture. The ﬁrst response presents a basic conﬂict in values and world-view that is usually fairly entrenched—in our experience, when someone is convinced that retribution is essential to social order, or that prisons stand for an important social principle, even a lengthy conversation is unlikely to change his or her mind (although it may earn his or her respect). The second response, objecting to the “not building” message, rather than the “not prisons” message, runs that if architects (especially talented and concerned ones) don’t participate in prison design, then prison buildings will be even more inhumane and dangerous than they already are. We think this puts design professionals in an essentially passive position—that we must make the best of all the projects we are offered or that society desires—but this is a hard view to dissuade many architects from, especially as it ties in to (somewhat well-founded) fears that as generalists in a design-construction industry moving towards increased specialization, architects have increasingly less to offer.3 Individuals who join the
Prison Legal News
design professions tend to believe that they can ﬁnd design “solutions” to most “problems,” an attitude that is strongly reinforced in many ways by professional training. People with this attitude seem to see ADPSR as detracting from the relevance of our shared professional skills to dealing with social problems, but this is probably only a polite way of indicating a deeper displeasure with the boycott. While the architects who actually design prisons (or more often, those designing county jails where some design ﬂexibility is allowed) may indeed be advocates for good design to beneﬁt people in prison, those defending the need for “better” prisons from the sidelines have substantially less at stake.
Abolition And Reform Taken another way, the concern that worse prisons will result from design without architects reﬂects a conﬂict between prison reform and prison abolition views. In this instance, prison reform (“we need good architects to make better prisons— and if we have better prisons, there will be less recidivism and hence improved public safety, leading ultimately to less people in prison”) is advanced as the preferred option usually because prison abolition is either inconceivable or grossly misunderstood. We’ve gotten “why not just open the gates and let everyone in prison out?” as a response a number of times. We often ﬁrst try to reply that saying “no prisons” and “no more prisons” are different things, but this is only a temporary measure, intended to de-escalate the conversation to see if any real exchange is possible. While these questioners misunderstand the timeframe in which we are working, they do grasp the basic challenge the boycott poses to prisons as part of business as usual. To our satisfaction, not too much of the debate about the prison boycott focuses on how costly prisons are from a taxpayer perspective. Instead, the moral and ethical issues around prisons are brought more to the forefront, allowing a discussion about ends more than means. As a social justice group, prison abolition to us is part of envisioning an ideal future: a society in which respect for every individual is central to social interaction, and where violence and coercion, rather than their victims, are marginalized. We envision healing and prevention as a social response to injuries, as an alternative to assigning blame. As we think that in the abstract, if these ideals were enacted
Prison Legal News
by everyone, prisons would indeed not be necessary. For us, whether or not this ideal is achievable is not that important; it makes good sense to try to get as close to this goal as possible even if you believe that 100% achievement will never be reached. Prison reform, in contrast, indicates a more pessimistic view of human nature, a willingness to accept human failings without challenging them. While we do not object to those who think that some people will always be violent, we dis-
agree with the conclusion that as a result society must also be violent, whether the rationale is retribution or public safety. No matter what the circumstances, we reject the idea that society must deliver violence and abuse in response to violence. That circle must be broken. Architects, designers, and planners are, in our experience and from what research exists, more “liberal” in social outlook than average Americans. Nonetheless, the idea of prison abolition is a
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Prison Design Boycott (cont.) difﬁcult one for design professionals to understand, let alone to adopt. We believe that the difﬁculty of this task indicates the power of the transformation it poses to the status quo positions of power and violence.
Concluding Thoughts: Prison Buildings and Building Community In a recent discussion with other prison abolitionists hosted by Critical Resistance and the UC Berkeley Law School, we suggested that one unique feature of the prison design boycott that might make it valuable to other activists is its focus on prison buildings. While one could argue, with good reason, that a central necessity of the struggle against the PIC is to humanize its victims in the face of constant demonization, we hope readers would also agree that drawing attention to the structural features of the PIC is just as essential, not least because it is the PIC’s structural operations that operate with the least regard for individual humanity. The focus on prison buildings (or structures, to be literal) provides an excellent opportunity for discussing the structural operations of the PIC, from investment decisions, to the dehumanization inherent in the repetitiveness of prison designs, to the demographics of the people who ﬁll them. As we mentioned at the beginning, we at ADPSR also ﬁnd that contrasting the structures we don’t want immediately brings to mind the structures we do want—both in physical terms: schools, community centers, day-care centers, public parks, safe neighborhoods, etc.; and in societal terms: fair access to employment, equality rather than prejudice and discrimination, affordable health care systems for everyone, and more. We believe that achieving these broader goals will require widespread support from all sectors of society, and we view our attempt as one piece of this necessary organization. We recognize and deeply appreciate the groups of lawyers who are advocating for legal reform, taking responsibility for their sector as we hope to for ours—the work of groups including Justice Policy Institute and the Sentencing Project have greatly inﬂuenced our understanding of prison issues and criminal justice. We also deeply respect the organizing and advocacy by those most directly oppressed by the PIC,
and have learned even more from groups like Critical Resistance and All of Us or None, who explain what is at the root of incarceration. For people who work every day envisioning the built environment, the prison design boycott is an attempt to translate the vision of healthy and productive communities in a just society into a means of organizing around the work that we do every day, and to take responsibility for the part of society we are responsible for. ADPSR welcomes contact and partnership with allied organizations and we hope to support our allies in the ongoing struggle for social justice. We hope that as more people ﬁnd more ways to organize, together we can build the society that we aspire to, both with bricks and, more importantly, with shared dreams. [More information about the campaign is available on the ADPSR website: www.adpsr.org/prisons]
We had hoped to have signiﬁcantly more detailed research available on this topic for this article.
However, most information about the construction industry is proprietary and, while not tremendously expensive, beyond ADPSR’s budget to acquire. Furthermore, despite support from individuals within the AIA, ADPSR’s request for joint research with AIA’s Academy of Architecture for Justice was rebuffed. We would welcome further contributions to this research from allied professionals or other sources. Please contact us at email@example.com. 2 Stribling, Dess, “The War for Talent,” Building Design & Construction, July 2005, p. 74 3 Saying “if we boycott prisons the government will just get civil engineers to do it without us” plays into the professional fear that architects are on the verge of being replaced by engineers and construction managers. ADPSR tries hard to counter this fear with the message that design professionals can earn a position of greater social trust by demonstrating ethical leadership. We argue that architects can and must gain ground in the industry precisely by holding the projects we do take on to a higher ethical standard than engineers and construction managers do. The design-construction industry is contested terrain in many other struggles for money, control, authority, and prestige; we have yet to see if our attempt to inject social justice into one such struggle can either raise support for social justice within the industry or actually help the groups that embrace social justice in their more day-to-day concerns.
North Carolina Prosecutors Reprimanded For Intentionally Withholding Crucial Exculpatory Evidence in Capital Case by Matthew T. Clarke
lan Gell cried recently after a North Carolina State Bar panel issued a mere reprimand, the least discipline possible, to two former prosecutors who withheld evidence in his capital murder case. “Here I am again and with the system letting me down again,” said Gell. How did the system let him down the ﬁrst time? By sentencing him to death in 1998 and having him spend over four years on death row for a murder he did not commit. His conviction was reversed due to withheld evidence and he was acquitted in a second trial in February 2004. Well, wrongful convictions happen all the time, you say. True, but it doesn’t always happen that the alleged murderer was in jail when the murder occurred and that the prosecutors withheld evidence of their star witness fabricating accusations against the defendant, nor does it always happen that the prosecutors invent a new time of death contrary to a pathologist’s
ﬁndings because the defendant was in jail on other charges the actual day of the murder. That is exactly what David Hoke— now the second-highest administrator in the state court system—and Debra Graves —now a federal public defender—did. They hid a tape of Gell’s co-defendant, Crystal Morris, saying that she would have to “make up a story” for the cops. They hid sworn statements by eight witnesses who saw the victim alive after Gell was arrested on other charges. And they claimed that Dr. M.G.F. Gilliland, the state’s pathologist, determined that the murder could only have occurred prior to Gell’s arrest, a claim that Gilliland called “deceptive in the extreme.” What do Hoke and Graves have to say to this? They admit to hiding the tape, but claimed it was ofﬁce policy not to reveal impeachment evidence because the prosecutor’s ofﬁce didn’t consider it
Prison Legal News
architects/designers/planners for social responsability
Prison Design Boycott
ABOUT THE PRISON SYSTEM
ABOUT THIS POSTER The design on the front side of this poster is the winning entry in ADPSR’s 2005 Poster Design Competition for the Prison Design Boycott. ADPSR solicited entries for a poster that would explain why architects, designers, and planners should refuse to work on prisons. The design competition called for a poster than explains the problems with the current U.S. prison system and why the refusal to contribute to it is an important and effective response.
ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN
It is time to stop building prisons. Our prison system is both a devastating moral blight on our socie and an overwhelming economic burden on our tax dollars, takin away much needed resources from schools, health care and affor able housing. The prison system is corrupting our society an making us more threatened, rather than protecting us as its prop nents claim. It is a system built on fear, racism, and the exploitatio of poverty. Our current prison system has no place in a society th aspires to liberty, justice, and equality for all.
United States U a of o America A a Apartheid South A. England Australia Canada Germany. Finland Japan
STOP BUILDING PRISONS! JOIN N THE PRISON N DESIGN N BOYCOTT !
As architects, we are responsible for one of the most expensi parts of the prison system, the construction of new prison buil ings. Almost all of us would rather be using our professional skills design positive social institutions such as universities or pla grounds, but these institutions lack funding because of spendin on prisons. If we would rather design schools and community ce ters, we must stop building prisons.
Over the past thrity years, the U.S. prison population has exploded. today, the United States reports the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world.
Differential treatment by race is a hallmark of the U.S. prison system. People of color and members of minority groups are I imagine a prison system that is not about punishment over-represented in prison. or vengence, but one that that focuses on rehab litation in every situation possible One that focuses on Sorting by race happens at every treatment for possession or use of illegal substances A level of the justice system, from who justice system that does away with the death penalty, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and is stopped by police officers, to how with does not impose a life sentence for a non violent third offense A society that addresses the root causes of prosecutors choose to charge crime, such as poverty, unequal access to quality education, racial and ethnic bias, and all forms of social individuals, to how judges and injustice juries respond. Many studies have Martin Hammer, Architect, Berkeley, CA shown that darker-skinned Architects, designers and related professionals can lead way in shaping the kinds of buildings, environments, individuals regularly receive longer the and communities we create the ADPSR campaign is an example of leading through example sentences for similar crimes with Lisa S Sullivan, Consultant, San Francisco, CA similar circumstances within the DNA tests were proven to be false in some crime same jurisdiction. The best predictor After labs in this country, the media has brought it to our that, in fact, innocent of whether a jury will vote for the attention people have been locked up for years and put to death for no reason at all death penalty is the race of the Some were freed, others are gone victim. Nearly 1 in 3 forever So what right? What if it was kid? What a waste African-American males in the age you're Rob Ambrosino, Singer/songwriter, Houston, TX group 20-29 is under criminal justice supervision on any given day I worked on a prison as my first professional assignment and all I -- in prison or jail, on probation, or can say is "YUCK!" and I was young didn't know any better After 5 on parole. As Princeton University's and years of professional estrangement, I am sorting out my feelings Bruce Weston puts it, "for surrounding that experience and realizing that I may yet have a low-education African-American contribution to architecture that is men, prison has become a common not SO destructive to other people and SO professionally life event, even more common than humiliating Joel Miller, Randolph Center, VT employment or military service." Dangerous criminals should be segregated from society
This poster is a design with a purpose: to educate viewers about the United States Prison-Industrial Complex and to prompt viewers to take action to fight against the social injustices of the system.
“The concept and issue were relatively unknown to me. After doing some research, I wanted to capture the same emotion and power I felt when I first discovered the statistics. I feel that the imagery along with the text achieves that.”
ADPSR convened a selection panel of architects, artists, educators, and prison activists to review the competition entries, which came from across the United States and other countries including Australia and Canada. The winning entry came from Miguel Bermudez, a student at the University of Michigan. His statement about this design read as follows:
INCARCERATION RATES PER 100,000 POPULATION
The incarceration rate in the United States is more than 8-10 times that of industrialized countries. It is even worse than the incarceration rate in Apartheidera South Africa, with a legal system based on racism and injustice. Increases in crime are not the main reason behind the U.S. experiment in mass incarceration. Instead, primary factors are: - Bad laws: three strikes, drug laws, and mandatory minimums have greatly increased the average length of time served for minor offenses.
U.S. POPULATION White 69.13%
- Prison–industrial complex: Prison suppliers, manufacturers, guards, and private for-profit prison operators have a deep vested interest in profiting off the business of incarceration. - Available prison space: “If you build a prison, you are going to find people to put in it.” -- Reginald Wilkinson, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, quoted in Christian Science Monitor, June 20, 2005
Thank you for taking a stand on the issue of "Prisons" I suddenly find a great deal of pride in being an architect once again Rather than "Prisons" what about affordable housing, rebuilding cities, schools, hospitals, etc , etc In other words, lets get back to dealing with the positive solutions to ills of this society Joseph Raggio, Architect, Delmar, NY
Black 12.32% Hispanic 12.55%
CULTURE OF FEAR
ABOUT ADPSR Established in 1981, Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) works for peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities. We believe that design practitioners have a significant role to play in the well-being of our communities. The goals of our programs are to: 1. raise professional and public awareness of critical social and environmental issues;
The increased separation between the haves and the have-nots is leading to a growing climate of fear. Regardless of how safe communities actually are, middle- and upper-class members of society feel their that security is threatened by stereotypical "criminal types" they do not know. Media representations of crime and criminals play into a set of social stereotypes picked up by pandering politicians: between 1990 and 1998 the murder rate declined by 20%, but coverage of murder stories on network newscasts increased 600%.
We need residential programs for at risk kids, drug users,
Claudia Cleaver, Principal, Petaluma, CA
Black 43.91% Hispanic 18.26%
3. honor persons and organizations whose work exemplifies social responsibility.
Black 43.91% Hispanic 18.26%
I'm not saying that no one should go to jail If you break law then you should have to pay But when you see the sa people going in and out of overcrowded jails you have stop and think that there is something going on tha wrong I am no where near being qualified to say that I h an answer to the problem as I am a student and have had any experiance except for design studio I do not th that design is the final solution We will eventually have work with politicians, pyshcologists, and many other peo sso we can finally get this problem un ccontrol Its sad to see someone tthrown in jail for a petty crime and co out worse than they were in o b beginning In a society that seems tthink that they need to set an exam ffor the rest of the world they are doing a good job Because the syst d tthat was put in place to reform b breakers only seems to make p problem worse We will eventually h tto combine many different professi o cure this problem Not just design JJustin Newcomb, Student, Houston, T
IInspiring in it's stand for humanity, ccampaign inspries my imaginat toward a collective voice of "No!" to a whole range oppressive institutions Robert Riman, Student, Cambridge, MA
It may sound too simple but I strongly believe that if we inv the money spent on prisons on education instead we wo all be much better off Let us invest in education and cultu programs to inspire our youth and fellow citizens to fin fulfilling role in society This will be for the benefit of a l Shawn Berry, Cabinet Maker, San Francisco, CA JOB TRAINING EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION Ilaria Salvadori, Designer, San Francisco, CA
Prisons just hide [people] from the opportunities they co have had and the next person could just as well be behind those bars Stella Tan, Designer, Victoria, Australia
Provide free education and job training, free health c adequate funding for schools, free child care, decimmina drug use but provide counseling, provide living wage jobs everyone, then lock up only dangerous violent offendors A George Beeler, Architect, Petaluma, CA
Our responsibility is NOT to build mere warehouses that the politics of prison gang ife and force prisoners to rem or even regress deeper into survival mode Our responsib is to PREVENT the problems that lead to prison Mike Cohn, Hayward, CA Take responsibility Our creations help direct society better or worse Alan Moring, Designer, Norman, OK
you have to stop and think that there is something going on that is wrong I am no where near being qualified to say that I have an answer to the problem as I am a student and have not had any experiance except for design studio I do not think that design is the final solution We will eventually have to work with politicians, pyshcologists, and many other people so we can finally get this problem under control Its sad to see someone get thrown in jail for a petty crime and come out worse than they were in the beginning In a society that seems to think that they need to set an example for the rest of the world they are not doing a good job White Because the system that was put in place to reform law 34.72% breakers only seems to make the problem worse We will eventually have to combine many different professions to cure this problem Not just designers Other Justin Newcomb, Houston, TX
I have felt very strongly about this issue ever since th prisons started popping up everywhere Its obvious that is a very short sighted decision being made We should building schools and low income housing that sustainable and healthy and generating a healthy,a productive population of people instead of using th draconian projections and breaking down segments population This has been a nightmare that must end a allow architects of depth and breadth to create spaces t ennoble the human spirit or in the least respect the hum condition and its need to pursue life, liberty and the pursui happiness Those words almost seem like they where utte in a fairy tale with the present state of affairs instead of be the very words this country was founded upon This i tragedy of the human spirit and it must change Leslie Peretsky, Edmonds, WA
It is time to move away from isolated strategies of planning and design and towards more systemic principles that can integrate our communities' physical, cultural, social, educational, organizational, and economic resources to enhance equity and justice for everyone Steven Bingler, Architect, New Orleans, LA
Join the hundreds of professionals who believe in a better world and refuse to design prisons:
Membership in ADPSR is open to architects, designers, planners, and all others interested in social justice and the built environment:
Education is less expensive than incarceration Educate f and lessen incarceration If they are incarcerated th educate Society cannot tolerate the expense incarceration, the compromised safety or the loss of educated mind Educate, not incarcerate! Ron Bishop, AIA, Architect, Oakland, CA
Other the law then you should have to pay But when you see 3.11% the same people going in and out of overcrowded jails
I'm not saying that no one should go to jail If you break
Sources: - U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs - The Sentencing Project: www.sentencingproject.org - Justice Policy Institute: www.justicepolicy.org - American Institute of Architects: www.aia.org
The most effective way for us to address the prison problem is to work for social equity This is not to say that prisons are at all necesary; it is only to say that the problems of criminal behavior are best dealt with through prevention, and this is done by caring for all members of our society David White, Designer, Guilford, CT
White mental health patients, people leaving prisons, homless, and the poor This will reduce the need for more prisons 34.72%
2. further responsive design and planning;
Drug users should not End this stupid "drug war" and start using our resources for the good of society, not the good of the hard line politicians Stephanie Willoughby, Teacher, Catawba, VA
As long as America maintains these staggering levels prison population, construction, and drain on our resour we cannot truly be called free This disturbing trend, inde makes us all prisoners of a sick system Brad Will, Architect, Stone Ridge, NY
Sustainable Design is as much about creating a healthy a just society as it is about creating a healthy and dive environment We need to "daylight" the forces that putting so many vital and potentially productive you people in prison and get to work creating a better wo while we have time Mark Rylander, Architect, Charlottesville, VA
Dues ra Individual: $ Student: $ Steward: $ Contributor/Small Firm: $1 Sustainer/Large Firm: $ Patron: $5 Donor: $1,0
Membership includes subscription to DESIGNER/Builder Magaz