Perspectives on Justice: John Spencer on Learning What Fair Really Means

Equity, diversity, and inclusion have been adopted into workplace culture and studio programming. But, justice — as a principle and directive — has catalyzed the effort for fundamental awareness and evident change within architecture. Why is justice a necessary design ethic? Virginia’s preeminent voices in equity, diversity, and inclusion weigh-in on why this question matters. As part of this series, Noland Medalist John Spencer, FAIA, says that justice is only achievable if individuals can accept fairness and practice it. “Subjects we talked about 50 years ago were not considered part of architecture, and subjects we’re talking about now are sometimes not considered to be part of architecture,” he says. “While talking has gotten easier, we still have to address the problem.”

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Perspectives on Justice: Kendall Nicholson on Goals and Processes

Equity, diversity, and inclusion have been adopted into workplace culture and studio programming. But, justice — as a principle and directive — has catalyzed the effort for fundamental awareness and evident change within architecture. Why is justice a necessary design ethic? Virginia’s preeminent voices in equity, diversity, and inclusion weigh-in on why this question matters. As part of this series, educator, researcher, and member of AIA Virginia’s J.E.D.I. Committee, Kendall Nicholson, Assoc. AIA, talks about empathy and responsibility as the foundations of justice. “My hope,” he says, “is that architects and designers continue to develop their senses in the area of racial equity and advocate for the reallocation of resources based on history and systems.”

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Design for Student Health and Wellbeing at UVA

UVA SHW Exterior facing South West
The building design connects to a new academic mixed-use district along Brandon Avenue. Image courtesy of VMDO Architects.

As students return to campus amid continued pandemic uncertainty, awareness of the importance of good health — physical, mental, and emotional — is intensifying. Attending college can be stressful under any circumstance. Aside from the rigors of academic life, it is often a student’s first time living away from home. For universities looking to develop health programs to address the needs of today’s students, the new Student Health & Wellness Center at the University of Virginia presents a model that expands traditional health services and facilitates a new approach to student wellness with preventative practices and strengthened community connections.

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New Community Health Center Transforms a Kigali Community

Masoro Health Centre by GAC
Masoro Health Centre by General Architects Collaborative (GAC) is a regional campus that contributes to Rwanda’s status as a “beacon” for healthcare in central Africa. Photograph courtesy GAC.

Just outside metropolitan Kigali, the Masoro Health Centre by the nonprofit General Architecture Collaborative (GAC) is part of a multi-decade push by the Rwandan government to improve its healthcare system, which includes clinics in underserved regions. GAC’s center administers curative and maternity services, as well as preventative care, for more than 20,000 residents within a 10 square-mile area in the foothills of the Virunga Mountain Range that define the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The center spreads across multiple buildings, all modest in scale, separated by services and functions to facilitate queuing and create a restful campus atmosphere. In addition to community health, the center’s architects also addressed the ecological and economic health of the region by identifying local materials and training laborers and students from the University of Rwanda in building trades to complete the 1.3 acre campus.

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A DC Rec Center Where Blue and Green Infrastructures Meet

Before the advent of air conditioning, Washingtonians endured hot summers as the northernmost southern American city. They coped by moving a little slower for a few months and hopping the trolly to some of the glades dotting the city’s periphery like Glen Echo, Hains Point, Oxen Run, or along Sligo Creek. That periphery is still marked by 40 boundary stones, the nation’s oldest federal monuments, and a network of forts, parks, and recreation centers that serve as neighborhood hubs. Marvin Gaye Recreation Center is the newest public facility in the District, completed in 2018 and situated just 1,000 feet from the easternmost boundary stone.

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