To be accredited by NAAB, an architecture program must address in its curriculum the profession’s role in ensuring “equity of access” to the built environment. How meaningfully and broadly programs comply can hinge on the instructor makeup. “If the faculty who can bring that to the table isn’t being hired, it won’t exist in the curriculum,” says Los Angeles–based ZGF associate Christopher Locke. While studying at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, he was able to travel to Brazil to study the country’s Afrocentric culture and roots in the slave trade. A diverse curriculum that “challenges the traditional practices and education of architecture is necessary for the profession to evolve,” he says.
Students investigating the minority experience also require faculty members with a level of cultural competency. The 2017 NAAB report also finds that design faculty in the U.S. is 71 percent white, 8 percent Latinx, 7 percent Asian, and 3 percent African American. This disconnect in demographics can become clear at crit time when students may “have to work harder to justify [their] ideas,” Locke says