DEI at AMD

Date
2021

Category
Thoughts

Our studio community directs the character of our work. This is our legacy. Reflecting and empathizing with our communities is understood to be instrumental in our effectiveness to address the circumstances of projects, and to shape appropriate solutions that advance their aspirations and visions.

We are collaborators. We embrace the responsibility of engaging all perspectivesWe believe in building an equitable environment for all, one which celebrates our commonalities and diversity. Design is a shared responsibility.

As architects of the public realm, we foster positive influence in society. By exploring and engaging the patterns that inform society, our role is to listen, to translate, to embrace and to challenge. Our work is rooted in objective perspectives and shaped with humane sensitivity.

“You can’t be an architect if you don’t know architects exist.”

Michelle Obama
2017 American Institute of Architects conference

Enabling a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Anderson Mason Dale Architects is deeply committed to diversity, inclusion, gender equity, race diversity and LGBTQ+ representation throughout all levels of the firm. Our founder, John Anderson, established a legacy decades ago of mentorship for and commitment to women and persons of color in the profession of architecture. In 2013, he was awarded the Edward C. Kemper Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects, which recognizes service to the profession including ‘areas as diversity, sustainability, or the mentoring of emerging professionals.’

We recognize diversity as a moral and ethical imperative and acknowledge there are layers of historic and institutional action and intent that underpin the inequities within our society and profession. We also understand and embrace the intangible value of authentically reflecting the communities we serve, as a way of building stronger empathy, understanding and communication surrounding the common lived experiences of the community. Building a studio with a broad range of backgrounds and unique perspectives allows us to offer more nuanced, innovative and culturally responsive solutions.

In 2018 AMD enlisted the services of a 3rd party advisor to assist us in evaluating the firm’s overall structure and operations, including leadership, development, marketing and communications. In 2019 these efforts were expanded to focus, prioritize and formalize an AMD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan to accompany the new generation of firm leadership. While diversity and inclusion have always been at the core of our studio’s values, the DEI plan will serve to drive and measure our efforts towards accountability.


The plan framework focuses on:

CULTURE

  • Mentorship, training and development to support career advancement within our studio

POLICIES

  • Forge relationships with education institutions across the nation
  • Recruitment strategies that enable access to individuals from minority communities
  • Retention of staff to cultivate the character of our studio and our future leadership

ASSOCIATIONS

  • Build and nurture relationships with minority business enterprises
  • Internship programs focused on recruiting minority students
  • Reinforce and cultivate our partnership with CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning

INVESTMENTS

  • Financial support of community groups advocating for DEI values
  • Pro-bono services for underserved communities
  • Scholarships

Today, one-quarter of our firm ownership is held by a person of color and more than a third of our firm Principals and Senior Associates leaders are women. Firmwide, we have also made strides in building gender diversity as part of a 10-year recruitment initiative resulting in over 40% gender diversity. We continue to build cultural, ethnic and racial diversity within our studio, currently reflecting 13% diversity firm-wide. With our anticipated growth and recruiting plans, we are targeting 20% by the year 2025. These ratios mark a shift that we intend to advance through perpetual commitment and evaluation of our AMD DEI plan.

We believe design is about exploration and discovery. As such, our studio space and our process shapes a setting fostering open dialogue and deliberation, and meaningful participation and contribution to the work we do. We are an open studio comprised of many and we offer the brain-trust of our collective people to our clients and communities.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

We acknowledge the regional diversity challenge in the architectural profession, amidst a growing national awareness to empower our children, in our schools, far before it can be effectively addressed as a workplace issue. Michelle Obama said, profoundly, at the 2017 American Institute of Architects conference, “You can’t be an architect if you don’t know architects exist.”

We have made commitments to build awareness, opportunities, pathways, and educational resources for local K-12 communities as a long-term commitment to fostering a more diverse regional design community:

  • Yearly participation in the Denver Architecture Foundation - Cleworth Architectural Legacy Project since 2005, providing students and teachers insight into our profession;
  • Partnership with the Gold Crown Foundation C2C Pathways Program, which includes supporting an internship for recent high school graduates preparing to matriculate with a local university;
  • With our service on K-12 projects, we collaborate with school administration and instructors to tailor a specific project related to the actual work that is undertaken, typically coordinated with the course being delivered to students to reveal real-world relationship and impact;
  • Supporting specific community programs, such as the La Napoule Art Foundation Visiting Artist Program for Denver Public Schools Hallett Academy, where AMD hosted a silent auction showcasing student artwork and raising funds to sustain a school-wide six-week art program shepherded by local artist Rochelle Johnson, followed by a student show in her gallery.

We see these efforts as critical in securing our profession’s relevancy and resiliency as stewards and servants of our communities.

MBE/ WBE/ SBE/ DBE COLLABORATORS

Subconsultants play an important role in the process and are equally responsible and accountable for the project’s success. With a focus in the public sector and embracing diversity and inclusion as a driver in formulating our interdisciplinary design teams, AMD is committed to a processes that has proven to be effective in assembling the right team:

  • Shortlist and Interview: to ensure the best firms are engaged AMD conducts a shortlist and interview process to identify the best candidates for collaboration. At the same time, the selection process is a valuable experience for diverse businesses that can be applied to other pursuits.
  • Co-locate staff to ensure continuity: our experience suggests co-locating staff from diverse business enterprises in our studio facilitates training and processes that help these firms move to the next level.
  • Create distinct work scopes for collaborators: we typically give key participants responsibility for a distinct scope of work and allow them to track that scope from start to finish.
  • Engage key diverse business principals with clients and stakeholders: we seek opportunities for these principals to engage with clients and build relationships beyond the design team.
  • Continue the relationship after the work is complete: to ensure we build on the experience of recent projects we collaborate in pursuit of other projects.

Swansea Elementary School, Denver Public Schools

For this major school transformation, AMD invited three MWBE architectural enterprises to co-work in our studio to deliver design services for the project as a unified team. AMD provided management and actively mentored the participants in the program, whose participation ranged from field reconnaissance of existing conditions, preparation of the digital Building Information Model for site and building, construction document preparation including specifications and construction submittals review and field reports. The achievements of this project were significant, addressing the client's aspiration of maximizing participation by diverse business enterprises. 

"Strange Continents" by Mindy Bray, Westin Lobby

Hotel and Transit Center, Denver International Airport

With a major role in the development of the new $350M Hotel and Transit Center, AMD was keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities of a community-based project in Denver. Through years of experience, the firm has shaped a mentoring program for diverse collaborators that gives them direct exposure to AMD’s successful practice concepts so that they can implement them in their independent endeavors. For the DEN project, AMD put together a team to serve as Architect of Record for the Hotel & Transit Center that included nearly 32% participation, exceeding the city’s 20% goal. AMD conducted a qualifications-based selection process and interviewed several candidate firms. The collaborators have raved about this selection process as an unusual and valuable mentoring experience.

Westwood Recreation Center

For a historically underserved neighborhood in southeast Denver, AMD is delivering the design of a new $23M recreation center that has been years in the making. In response to the City’s request for a 30% diverse business participation plan, AMD intricately assessed the scope of work required for the project to assemble a team structure comprised of primary consultants integrating sub-consultants within their operations to serve portions of the project consistent with the project needs and the capacity of their abilities; this includes AMD’s recruitment of a small, MWBE architecture enterprise focused on recreation center renovation projects who will participate in the development of the interior landscape of the new building.

Anderson Mason Dale Architects is an equal opportunity employer. The firm does not discriminate against persons because of their age, sex, pregnancy, color, race, religion, creed, ancestry, sexual orientation, transgender status, national origin, physical or mental disability, or marriage to a coworker. The firm is committed to complying fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and all applicable state laws to ensure equal opportunity in employment for qualified persons with disabilities. All employment practices and activities are conducted on a non-discriminatory basis.

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