As Californians we are most fortunate to live in a state where broad imperatives and statutes reflecting accessible and sustainable goals in building codes and standards as well as in education, housing and social services are a demonstrable and enduring legacy which is generational.
Looking back and then forward, the unification of California building standards into a single code within the California Code of Regulations, designated as we know it, as Title 24 California Building Standards Code, held an implicit promise of equity and access to the built environment and resources. Enacted in 1978, 12 years before the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, incorporating both accessibility regulations and minimum energy efficiency standards, and inculcation of the California Energy Commission, it’s fair to recognize Title 24 as a model reach code for disabled access and energy efficiency, among the first such statutes in the country.
As the largest component of the AIA, AIA CA aspires to continued leadership in policy and practice to meet the shared goals of equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as climate action, by example—in policy, in legislation, and in practice. This is reflected with particular focus by the formation of an EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Committee by AIACA President Debra Gerod in 2019, and with strategic goals and objectives EDI developed and adopted by the Board last year in the AIACA 2022-25 Strategic Plan.
In my view, the generous, hopeful and pro-active vision of AIA’s new EV, Lakisha Woods, in her published interview with AIA Architect Magazine captures the importance and hope of our work here an California and by our colleagues nationally:
From the text, we hear Woods’ voice speaking from personal, hands-on experience and from her professional career positions as a design and construction industry executive. She expresses the opportunities and constraints for architects and our industry partners, and how we can tackle those challenges.
Her words speak to me in particular, regarding the potential for inclusive architectural education at every level, the promise of our participating as teachers, mentors, and colleagues to work with as wide a variety of diverse talent possible, perhaps outside our own experience or comfort level, and then reaching out, including supporting, advancing and cultivating diverse architects in many career paths including practice, and supporting architecture students and professionals in all sectors.
February is Black History Month. This is an opportunity to recognize the contributions to our country and our state by Black Americans in particular, and to celebrate the contributions of African American architects as well as the enormous potential of exceptional people across genders, generations, demographic and cultural backgrounds, races, and physical abilities.
The shared vision of equity and inclusion reminds us of the boundless potential in our profession and how we can cultivate that collectively and individually in our work through AIA California and our own careers.
As leaders in our profession and a voice for our large state, I know you will join me in making sure equity, diversity and inclusion is realized at every level as both a promise and a reality.
Rona Rothenberg, FAIA
2022 AIA CA President