Architects Won’t Censure Members Who Design Solitary, Execution Chambers


The American Institute of Architects has rejected a petition to censure members who design solitary-confinement cells and death chambers, says the New York Times. “It's just not something we want to determine as a collective,” said Helene Combs Dreiling, the institute's former president, who put together a special panel that reviewed the plea. “Members with deeply embedded beliefs will avoid designing those building types and leave it to their colleagues,” she said. “Architects self-select, depending on where they feel they can contribute best.”

Architecture requires a license, giving architects a monopoly over their practices. Raphael Sperry, a San Francisco architect who spearheaded the petition, believes the public deserves more in return for that monopoly. Sperry and his organization, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, wanted the institute to adopt a rule similar to the American Medical Association's, which prohibits doctors from participating in execution or torture. The AIA said that it doesn't regulate building types. It also said the rule would be hard to enforce.

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