A Naive Dream or the New Reality?

It’s time to connect the practice of architecture to society’s needs.

This item just flashed on my computer screen: LiUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, will soon be airing ads on CNN and MSNBC, in the Washington D.C. area. The ads are obviously targeted at lawmakers and the campaign, “Build America So America Works,” focuses on our desperate need to upgrade and build anew such essentials as schools, bridges, and dams. The ads’ underlying message: jobs for LiUNA members (500,000 out of America’s 10 million construction workers).

Ordinarily I would have clicked the delete button on such a press release. But these are not ordinary times. Having attended the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) convention in Boston this spring, I was led to believe that the organization embraced its convention’s theme, “We the People”; and that connecting the practice of architecture to society’s needs is its genuine goal. Furthermore, the AIA public outreach gave me hope that a strong and even collegial relationship could be possible between all building trades and that this collaboration—at a time when we need to talk to one another desperately—would take the place of adversarial jeering.

Now I wonder if we’ll see ads from the AIA pushing its own message about the value of architecture. That tact, of course, would be business as usual—everyone doing their own thing and wasting a lot of resources in the process. But we can no longer think of such fragmented efforts. Instead, wouldn’t it be more sustainable if the AIA, LiUNA, and other alphabet-soup organizations came together for the health, safety, and well-being of our built environment? Call me naïve. (I’m used to it.)

Click below to watch LiUNA’s new ad campaign:

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