Student Design Competition: Call for Entries
Our world has shifted. Just over a year ago, campuses across the U.S. shuttered in response to a pandemic that disproportionately impacted vulnerable pockets of our population: the elderly, the disabled, those with compromised immune systems, and underserved racial and ethnic minority groups. With the pandemic as the backdrop, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others focused another spotlight on the racial profiling and police brutality that has pervaded society in the United States. It has jarred us awake to systemic inequities and highlighted disparities within our communities. College students were, and still are, at the forefront of a wave of people demanding justice and lasting change.
Increasingly, students seeking higher education are non-traditional: minorities, working adults, immigrants, first-generation students, part-time students, and students with physical, social, and emotional learning differences. As our learning spaces grow more racially diverse, socio-economic disparities are widening on our college campuses. Institutions are scrutinizing their policies and subtle structural inequalities. Concerns around admission, financial aid access, and the controversy over the origins of standardized testing are swirling. Institutions have recently opened Wellness Centers to address both the physical and emotional needs of students. Schools are working to carve out space and assistance for students with neurodiversities. Schools have renamed buildings to remove mentions of Confederate sympathizers and have created memorials to recognize the contribution of enslaved laborers. Additionally, many institutions have conducted ADA accessibility evaluations to understand how students with physical disabilities navigate their campus environments. There is a genuine urgency and call to action to create inclusive and equitable spaces in higher education.
Architects, planners, and designers contribute to the fabric of a place. We create campus spaces where students learn, grow, and discover their authentic voices as citizens of society. A physical commitment to equitable and inclusive environments fosters integrity and student success. Creating an equitable environment involves careful consideration of furnishings, environmental factors, and identity to nurture a sense of belonging and authenticity. What values can we instill in our work to contribute to a more welcoming, inclusive, and thriving place for students to learn?