Postscript to 'When do you say no?

In my last newsletter I stated my unwillingness to design a prison.  A recent Architectural Review has since reported that a US group called Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility(ADPSR) has petitioned the American Institute of Architects to amend their rules as follows:

'Members shall not design spaces intended for execution, or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment including prolonged solitary confinement.'

This would bring the AIA Code of Ethics into line with the UN Declaration of Human Rights and one would think there could be no argument.  But it was rejected by the AIA who argued that the proposals could lead to anti-trust challenges by making architects unable to compete in the market, stating that:

' The AIA Code Of Ethics should not exist to create limitations on the practice by AIA members of specific building types.'

In effect, they are leaving it to individuals to make such moral choices, although ADPSR reported that other professions, such as doctors and nurses, have explicitly disavowed participation in practices such as torture, and their proposal would have aligned architects with their professional peers. 

Correction facilities are a bigger business in the US than here; a considerably much higher percentage of people per thousand of the total population are incarcerated in the US than any other civilised country, and an even higher percentage of those incarcerated are black Americans.

As far as I know the Australian Institute of Architects has not considered such ethical problems, and given the current local attitude of agreeing with the United States in all things without demur (including US torture in Afghanistan and Iraq), action is unlikely. Perhaps these ethical issues are more likely to be taken up by the socially concerned Parlour group?

Don Gazzard LFAIA
November 2015