Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Deconstructing spaces to include LGBTQ, minority architects
by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Architecture is gaining diversity from women and minority professionals.

In 2016, 36 percent of newly licensed architects were women and 15 percent of new architects and 30 percent of new exam candidates identified as non-white, according to demographics from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) also saw an increase in African-American and women members, according to its 2015 study, "Diversity in the Profession of Architecture."

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) encourages this diversity by promoting community engagement and professional development of its members. It hosted its 46th annual convention in Chicago Oct. 17-20, bringing hundreds of Black, Asian, Latino and LGBTQ architects together to network, share design innovation and deconstruct the industry to for broader inclusivity.

While some groups are still underrepresented, it is growing to encourage future architects that do not represent the heteronormative, white man perspective to be leaders in the industry. One way to inspire them is through education and awareness, which Kathryn Anthony has been doing for almost 33 years. Anthony, a distinguished professor with a Ph.D. at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, created a seminar called "Gender and Race in Contemporary Architecture," which is one of the longest-running courses on diversity in architecture and is looked to as a national prototype from other architecture professionals. It highlights past Black and women architects, educates students on issues minority groups historically faced and how traditionally designed spaces—like public bathrooms—are discriminatory to them, particularly trans and women.

Anthony, who has written three books on design diversity and is published in over 100 publications, came to speak at the NOMA convention along with students currently taking the class to share its benefits, obstacles in creating it and where the discussion on race and gender is today.

"It's improved but we should still go a lot further; I wish we were further than we are," Anthony said,. However, she acknowledging strides by AIA, the Equity by Design movement and research from her 2001 book "Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the Architecture Profession" as good progress.

Designing space for the LGBTQ community is best seen through bathrooms, which Anthony loves to study and takes her students to see different ones on campus. How they invoke comfort and privacy depending on who they are designed for is so obvious that people do not think twice about it, she said. But they are a necessity for some in the LGBTQ community, and Anthony wants the design community to be inclusive of all genders.

"These binary divisions cause a lot of problems for people," she said. "We have seen a lot of improvement on college campuses with gender-neutral bathrooms. The trans community has been very effective in voicing their concerns and getting change."

Deconstructing design spaces like bathrooms and learning about the gender and race divide in architecture has been illuminating to Anthony's students. Anirudhvaradan Kalayanaraman, a second-year graduate student from India, said the topic is scarcely talked about in architecture, which he thinks is disappointing.

"When we are in a profession that deals with shaping human lives and how people live their day-to-day; we need to take into consideration all factors—gender and race are two of the main factors," Kalayanaraman said. "When you slap a gender on a space, you put one gender before the other. That's the main cause of gender disparity in bathrooms."

His classmate Becca Vahldick, who is involved in the LGBTQ community, agreed and said both are now more empowered, more educated and more aware.

"Becoming educated on the topic opens a whole world of opportunities for people because once you know what people go through, you will be able to change it—you want to change it," Vahldick said.

She realized that the course has focused on many women designers but no LGBTQ architects, although Anthony said students have an option to independently study a designer of their choice for a later project.

The class started with one person and now has taught over 250 students, many from minority groups that have said the class' knowledge helped them succeed in their career. Having professors like Anthony in architecture school can shape the way one thinks about the profession and its historical players.

R. Chris Daemmrich, an architect in New Orleans who happens to be gay, started looking at ways to deconstruct and challenge design practice from the white supremacist imperialist patriarchy in American architecture after some college professors opened his eyes to gender disparities and racism in the field. He also presented at NOMA and discussed the oppression architecture spaces put on various minority groups and his involvement in intersectional architectural activism to combat racial and gender inequality.

"Most architectural activism is in spaces led by Black people and other people of color," Daemmrich said. "I have noticed that those spaces are more queer than white spaces—Black, queer people in particular—but I feel more comfortable as a white, queer person in this space because it's more open to these conversations."

He said he normally does not out himself at work or in presentations but he understands what it is like having a marginalized identity as a basis for oppression. He also understands his position of privilege as a gay white man in design.

"I try to emphasize that this work is being done by me and by lots of people who don't look like me," he said.

Daemmrich sees deconstructing oppressive design and changing the way architecture treats minorities and LGBTQ architects from the corporate side and not only activism. Perhaps the most visible LGBTQ architecture is one already mentioned: gender-neutral bathrooms.

"They are incredibly important," he said. "That's a place architects could be more [like] activists when it comes to supporting queer people."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Two Frank Lloyd Wright Trust Sites get World Heritage Desnignation 2019-07-08 - CHICAGO, IL ( July 8, 2019 ) — The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is proud to announce that the Frederick C. Robie House ...

Gay News

CPCA's Painted Ladies home paint competition now open 2019-06-27 - If you have been putting off that home or business exterior paint job, it's time to get started. There is still time to ...

Gay News

LGBTQ architects featured at Pride Month event 2019-06-27 - The national and local LGBTQ architect community celebrated Pride Month with a historical panel hosted by the national chapter of the American Institute ...

Gay News

ARCHITECTURE New UChicago building gets assistance from Theaster Gates 2019-06-16 - An open forum with ample natural light, historic exposed quartz beams and polished woodworked benches greet the eye when entering the new Harris ...

Gay News

Chicago Architecture Center rolls out events for summer and fall 2019 2019-05-24 - CHICAGO ( May 22, 2019 ) —The Chicago Architecture Center ( CAC ) is the city's exciting new cultural attraction which is both ...

Gay News

Restored Frederick C. Robie House house opens to public March 29 2019-03-26 - CHICAGO, IL ( March 26, 2019 ) — The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust announced the reopening of the Frederick C. Robie House on ...

Gay News

ARCHITECTURE AIA Chicago starts LGBTQI+ alliance with reception 2019-03-03 - A packed crowd of architecture professionals celebrated the launch of a new LGBTQI+ alliance by the Chicago chapter of American Institute of Architects ...

Gay News

Endangered building list released 2019-02-27 - Preservation Chicago has released its 2019 Chicago 7 Most Endangered buildings list, covering some of the most vulnerable sites. "This year's threats were ...

Gay News

Lakeview group to create new public art destination, seeks artists for murals 2019-02-06 - Friends of Lakeview—a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and partner of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and Special Service Area (SSA) 27—has announced a call ...

Gay News

2019 Wright Plus Housewalk on May 18 2019-02-04 - The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will present its 2019 Wright Plus Housewalk on Saturday, May 18, in Oak Park. Wright-designed buildings on the ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.