Good Design

Harvard Magazine:
Good Design, A public interest movement redefines architecture

In June 1968, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) invited civil-rights leader Whitney Young Jr. to speak at its national convention. Just two months earlier, riots had devastated dozens of American downtowns in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. AIA members wanted to know what had happened, and how they could help. But Young, then the president of the National Urban League, offered far more condemnation than comfort. “You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights, and I’m sure this has not come to you as any shock,” he observed. “You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance.”

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