April 6, 2007
Letters to the Editor

Summary: This week, readers have a lot to say about our diversity series; the ethics of calling yourself an architect; the late Thomas H. Atherton, architect from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; the return of the “Death by Architecture” competition web site; and our doer’s profiles.

Re: Diversity: “The Educators”

The omission of Howard Hamilton Mackey, FAIA as a trailblazer in the recent article by Stephen Kliment can only be the result of thin scholarship and research. The architecture program at Howard University to which Professor Mackey gave nearly 50 years of his professional career is testament to his leadership, his profound impact on the profession, and his nurturing of the Negro cohort of architects. It is inconsistent logic to move from the trailblazers (sans Professor Mackey) to several architecture teachers without a mention of his place in the history of architecture leadership in this nation. This continuation of the "endangered species" (Robert Coles, FAIA) syndrome without dedicated and continuous efforts to overcome same is without value.

—Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA, AICP
James E. Silcott Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Dean Emeritus
School of architecture and design, Howard University
Washington, D.C.

I really find it surprising that the AIA would publish such an article. Architecture is not about one’s skin color nor is it about minorities. This is racist. Why must our culture always highlight the African-American? I have many black friends who are doing just fine and are presented with the same opportunities I have been. The same goes for other friends I have of other races and cultural backgrounds. I am a Cajun. Why has a study not been done representing how many Cajun French Americans are architects, architectural professors, etc? Or for that matter how about Cajun French American Women? There are no programs that help the advancement of the Cajun French American that I am aware of. I find it very racist to single out one due to his/her skin color or background. I find it very disturbing that the upstanding professional organization, of which I am a member, would single out architects by way of skin color or any other stereotypical genre. I think the AIA should promote individuals or groups by accomplishments, etc., they have made without mention of race as an obstacle which to overcome. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. I really hope that you will take the time to understand my concerns and ideas. These are problems that are nationwide, not just with this article.

—Joshua F. Gallet, AIA, Architect
Kaplan, La.

Re: Ethics: Calling Yourself an Architect in a State Where You Aren’t Licensed

I will always be an architect, whether I am licensed in another state or not. I also agree with the ethics decision in this case. Architect A should have gotten his license in the state he was trying to get business in before he started marketing. This has been taken to an extreme in some states where, rumor has it, you can’t even include the AIA designation after your name if you are not licensed in the state you are passing through. This is ridiculous, as I am a member of the AIA no matter what state I am in, even though I shouldn’t try to get projects in the state without a license.

—Timothy J. White, AIA
Integrus Architecture

Re: National Building Museum to Present Inaugural Atherton Lecture and “Framing a Capital City” Symposium

This is a FYI concerning the "architectural" background of the late Charles H.(Henry ) Atherton. He was the son of Thomas H. Atherton AIA, who practiced in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., from c.1915 to c.1950. Col. Atherton served in WWI in the 109th FA, worked with Paul Cret on WWI Battlefield Monuments Commission, practiced solo in Wilkes-Barre & established Lacy Atherton & Davis in W-B in c.1940. He was a founding member of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the AIA (formerly the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Chapter) in 1940. I researched Thomas H. Atherton's career for a talk I gave several years ago, "Inter-War Residences in the Back Mountain" at College Misericordia in Dallas, Pa. I was grateful to Charles Atherton for promptly returning a "blind" call from me, and sharing architectural memories of his father with me for well over an hour.

—Carl J. Handman AIA
Wilkes Barre, Pa.

Ed. Note: Thank you for sharing your information with all of us.

Re: “It’s Alive: Death by Architecture Returns”

I have no idea why you gave Death by Architecture so much press. They glean most of their information from our email announcements, then print them on their Web site. We were the very first to put up a competition Web site, have worked with the AIA over the years, and, after talking with the AIAS, have been giving students a discounted rate for our services—including the magazine. Death by Architecture comes and goes, and there is no guarantee they will be around tomorrow, or that any information on competitions they may list is investigated as to whether or not it is from a serious client. In other words, is the profession properly informed as to the validity of the competitions, or are they simply scams? I realize that you are obviously not very well informed in this area, so I thought I would put in my two cents.

—G. Stanley Collyer, PhD, Hon. AIA,
Editor, COMPETITIONS, Louisville

Ed. Note: For more about COMPETITIONS magazine and online listings, visit their Web site.

In your current issue you have an article about architects misrepresenting themselves as architects in states where they are not properly registered. The point is that an architect should not mislead. I fully concur. But how about you? In the same light I take great issue with the name of the Web site on design competitions, "Death by Design." [sic] What exactly is that supposed to imply, that design competitions are deadly? When I saw it I thought it was some sort of humerous TV program brought back from a previous incarnation. There is a perfectly legitimate competition Web site operated by COMPETITIONS magazine, edited by Stanley Collyer in Louisville. Why promote information that may do as much harm as good?

—Paul Spreiregen, FAIA
Washington, D.C.

P.S. I was the chair of the AIA's Committee on Competitions that produced the AIA handbook on same.

Ed. Note: We had a different interpretation of the title “Death by Architecture.” We took it to mean demise by something that you love so much you can’t get enough of it. Like a “Death by Chocolate” dessert.

Re: Face of the AIA; Doers’ Profiles

Thank for the Doer's Profile each issue. It is something I never grow tired of reading. I was particularly taken by J.M. O'Connor's interview, and wanted to thank you. These type of candid interviews act as a window into experience, our particular experience of being and working in architecture.

—Martin Bacich,Architect-in-Training
HDR, San Diego

news headlines