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Message - The Ethics of Architecture

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Posted by  Richard Ellmyer on November 25, 2002 at 01:52:57:

The architectural firms of Robertson Merryman Barnes* (Portland) and Mithun** (Seattle) have just been awarded a contract to design the next generation of Oregon's largest low-income housing ghetto.

Canon II of the American Institute of Architects Code of Ethics: Obligations to the Public***
Embrace the spirit and letter of the law governing their professional affairs, considering the social and environmental impact of their professional activities.

Canon II of the Seattle, Washington (Portland, Oregon has no published code of ethics) chapter of the American Institute of Architects Code of Ethics: Obligations to the Public****
Members should embrace the spirit and letter of the law governing their professional affairs and should promote and serve the public interest in their personal and professional activities.

The questions then arise:
Has Robertson Merryman Barnes and Mithun considered the "social and environmental impact" of designing buildings intended to herd an overwhelming number of low-income people into the single neighborhood which already has the highest number of HAP***** low-income clients in the city of Portland, Multnomah county and the state of Oregon while ignoring neighborhood stability and community balance?

Do Robertson Merryman Barnes and Mithun believe that they are in fact "promoting and serving the public interest" by supporting a public policy which says that low income clients are best served by gathering as many of them as possible into a single compound of government owned buildings. This policy supports the herding of an overwhelming number of low-income people into the single neighborhood which already has the highest number of HAP low-income clients in the city of Portland, Multnomah county and the state of Oregon. It acknowledges that neighborhood stability and community balance are irrelevant to its purposes?

The president of the Portland chapter of the AIA******, John Blumthal, has not yet asked his membership to vote on competing public housing policies (concentration versus dispersion). Portland AIA members MUST make that choice because they are represented on a sham committee which was designed to rubber stamp policies of the Housing Authority of Portland. Until such time as the AIA takes a stand it remains a HAP puppet.

Students and teachers of architecture and urban planning as well as practicing architects and planners around our country will be interested in the behavior of both the Portland AIA and Robertson Merryman Barnes and Mithun architects.

* http://rmbarch.com/
** http://www.mithun.com/mithun.html
*** http://www.aiasb.com/ethics.html
**** http://www.aiaseattle.org/code_of_ethics.htm
***** http://www.hapdx.org/
****** http://www.aiaportland.com/index.htm

Richard Ellmyer
Portland, Oregon

For more detailed information on the controversial $200 million Columbia Villa remodel project go to: http://www.goodgrowthnw.org .

Articles related to this subject by and about Richard Ellmyer
Community activism - Getting involved to make a difference by Gayla Whitman, The Review of North Portland, September 13, 2002.
http://www.goodgrowthnw.org/Review.html

Columbia Villa faces transformation by Gordon Oliver, Oregonian, July 24, 2002.
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news/1027511760296551.xml

Zoning issue handled badly by Richard Ellmyer, Portland Tribune, July 9, 2002.
http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=12383

Measure tips balance away from citizens by Richard Ellmyer, Portland Tribune, May 7, 2002.
http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=11325

People, like gardens, need help to act right by Renee Mitchel, Oregonian, March 13, 2002.
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/renee_mitchell/index.ssf?/xml/story
http://www.goodgrowthnw.org/RMitchel.html

Housing boon or blight? by Cristine Gonzalez, Portland Tribune, October 9, 2001.
http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=6899

 
 
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