Open Letter to the Princeton School of Architecture Faculty and Administration

Princeton School of Architecture Undergraduate Class of 2020

The letter begins by emphasizing that the current calls for anti-racist change in the School of Architecture are not new, highlighting the school’s continuous failings to diversifying both faculty and curriculum in the past. Its authors admonish the school’s complicity in an educational system that has largely ignored the political and racial dimensions of architecture. Notable issues pointed out in the undergraduate architecture program include the continued elevation of a narrow Euro-centric “canon” and the financial barriers associated with the profession, including studio supplies, travel, and unpaid or low-paying internships in cities with high costs of living.

The letter makes the following demands:

  1. Pedagogy: Demands that the PSoA introduce classes on race and architecture as requirements of the program, and that such courses be considered foundational rather than supplementary. Other demands ask for curricular changes that challenge the notion of “canon” as a predetermined and unchanging body of knowledge, and instead focus on the ways in which it is intentionally “constructed, reconstructed, preserved, and perpetuated.”
  2. Faculty: Demands that faculty conduct an examination of past syllabi and restructure courses to “account for a history of architecture that is true to our world’s diversity of opinions and experiences.” The demands also encourage collaboration with faculty in other Princeton departments and programs, such as those in African American, South Asian, and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
  3. Administration: Demands additional support to address financial and logistical barriers in architectural education and practice, particularly for the unique challenges that BIPOC face in the field. The demands emphasize that the PSoA has a responsibility not only to attract new students and faculty, but to support and retain them.

Princeton University is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Lenapehoking and the Lenape people. We pay respect to Lenape peoples past, present, and future and their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora.