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UC Berkeley Exhibition

ADPSR is proud to have opened our exhibition "Sentenced: Architecture and Human Rights" at UC Berkeley on Oct. 14. The exhibit highlights problematic and little-known spaces within United States prisons and detention centers that house activities deemed to violate human rights: execution chambers, supermax prisons, and juvenile isolation cells. Visitors will have a chance to see rarely available documentation including architectural plans of execution chambers, drawings from people held in solitary isolation, and photographs of the interiors of juvenile detention centers.

The show is open Mon-Fri 10-5 at the Wurster Hall gallery until Nov. 21, 2014. see more on our blog.


CBS news station KPIX featured ADPSR's proposal to ban the design of execution chambers and spaces for prolonged solitary confinement on TV. Please share the story and help more architects, designers, and planners to know about ADPSR's important work!

ADPSR Launches Crowdsourced Fundraising Campaign

ADPSR is one of the first groups to partner with WhyDidX, a unique news and crowdsource funding site that specializes in human rights.

For the next month, ADPSR leaders and other human rights activists will be curating stories on WhyDidXand asking for support of AIA's campaign for Human Rights in architectural ethics. You can find human rights news stories you're not likely to see elsewhere and support ADPSR directly from ADPSR's WhyDidX page and help shape the content of a new sources for news on human rights!

Human Rights Watch, Boston Society of Architects endorse ADPSR proposal

ADPSR has recently received a bunch of endorsements for our campaign, and some opposition.
We received a powerful endorsement from the Boston Society of Architects – the local AIA chapter, and the only chapter with a chapter level Ethics committee, which wrote most of the current AIA National Code of Ethics. Thank you and congratulations to BSA for doing the right thing!

We also we copied on a powerful letter from Human Rights Watch to The American Institute of Architects, urging support of our ethics petition as part of “a broader effort by architects and their professional organization to ensure that their services further the human rights of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with respect for their human dignity.” We couldn’t agree more. See the letter at the campaign endorsements page

Unfortunately, AIA New York does not agree on human rights. Taking the lead from their chapter’s committee of jail / prison /courthouse designers, New York does not want to see Ethics drive potential correctional clients to non-AIA architecture firms. This makes the ultimate decision of the AIA National Board all the more important: will AIA identify itself as a professional association distinguished by high standards, or a pool of self-interested businessmen who like to draw? If you’d like to let AIA know your opinion, sign our petition!

Amnesty International endorses ADPSR proposal

Further support for ADPSR's human rights proposal comes from Amnesty International, which sent a letter to the AIA Board of Directors in support of ADPSR's proposed ethics rules. ""The initiative of the ADPSR would help to prevent architects, designers, and planners from involvement in work which may facilitate violations of the human right not to be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. We strongly support this initiative and we urge you to make such a change to ensure the respect and protection of human rights," said Amnesty Director for the Americas Erika Guevara Rosas. See the full letter on our campaign endorsements page.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture urges support for ADPSR ethics proposal

In a powerfully worded letter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has expressed support for ADPSR's campaign to amend the AIA Code of Ethics. "Architects participate in shaping the experience of people in detention ... The design of prison environments can in general help to meet human rights  standards but, in some extreme cases, design may facilitate abuse.... I again urge AIA to help resolve the human rights problems caused by solitary confinement through prohibiting the design of spaces that would lead to these cruel, inhuman, or degrading conditions." See the full letter on our campaign endorsements page.

AIA Portland endorses APDSR's human rights petition

The Portland, OR, chapter of the American Institute of Architects has sent a letter of support for ADPSR's petition seeking to ban the design of execution chambers and supermax prisons for prolonged solitary confinement to the national directors of AIA. "Some buildings do intentionally lead to human rights violations, and even though this is a very small number of buildings, it is of great concern given the gravity of the outcomes, including cruelty, degradation, and death. We do not enjoy dwelling on these topics, but when confronted with them, we find that a response is warranted," wrote chapter President Stefee Knudsen, AIA. See the whole letter on the campaign Endorsements page. Thank you AIA Portland!

Architecture professors join ADPSR in telling AIA to support human rights

A new petition sponsored by ADPSR allows architecture professors to urge the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to amend their code of ethics to support human rights. Architecture faculty play a unique and central role in transmitting the ethics and culture of the profession of architecture, and the AIA Code of Ethics is an important point of reference in that discussion. Having a ban on the design of execution chambers and spaces intended for prolonged solitary confinement would improve the way that professors teach ethics and will help to improve the understanding of human rights within the field of architecture. The petition is available here.


Metropolis magazine picks ADPSR as Activism and Design highlight of 2013!

In a ringing endorsement of ADPSR's efforts to raise awareness of -- and help end -- the human rights abuses of executions and prolonged solitary confinement, Metropolis magazine listed ADPSR in the 2013 Year in Review of "the most important buildings, products, or events of 2013 that have ramifications for the future."


Critic Mark Lamster writes: "Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility are doing incredibly important work on the ethical implications of building solitary confinement cells and prisons. America has to address this issue... because it doesn’t work and it’s morally indefensible." Thank you, Metropolis - we couldn't agree more!

PS - for more from Metropolis, see their Q&A with ADPSR President Raphael Sperry.

ADPSR Ethics campaign at California legislative hearing!

A special California legislative hearing on solitary confinement heard "Many major national non-governmental organizations are now involved in the challenge to solitary confinement ... an effort is underway to amend the American Institute of Architects’ Code of Ethics to prohibit the design of facilities intended for prolonged solitary confinement.”


read more on the ADPSR blog.


DesignCorps Endorses ADPSR Petition, CBC Radio covers story

Design Corps is a non-profit organization that works to create positive change in communities by providing architecture and planning services, and a leader in the Public Interest Design movement. DesignCorps leader Bryan Bell is a Loeb Fellow and Latrobe Prize winner.  "We believe that full protection of human rights is necessary for positive change to occur in communities and for equitable decision-making to be possible" he writes. Read the full letter here.

Growing support also includes over 1,000 signatures on ADPSR’s online petition, and recent national news coverage from the CBC.

ADPSR Campaign featured in Design Podcast

ADPSR's campaign to ban the design of execution chambers and spaces intended for solitary confinement got a boost May 28 when the popular design podcast 99% Invisible dedicated their show to covering the story. The podcast features interviews with ADPSR President Raphael Sperry, psychologist Terry Kupers, and Pelican Bay prisoner Robert Luca. The episode was co-produced with legal podcast Life of the Law. Together these podcasts have an audience of over 13,000 fans. Check it out!

ADPSR Petition Endorsed by AIA San Francisco

The AIA San Francisco chapter has endorsed ADPSR's petition urging AIA (National) to amend their Code of Ethics to ban the design of execution chambers and supermax prisons -- buildings that violate human rights. See their latest newsletter for the details.

ADPSR sends a big shout-out and thank you to AIASF for taking the time to consider our proposal and for understanding the profound ethical implications those buildings raise for our profession. AIASF represents more than 2,000 members in San Francisco and Marin County. We are honored to have their support.

If you haven't signed our petition urging AIA National to make the change, now is a good time to do so (button to left)  If you have signed it, please let a friend know about it, or get in touch with ADPSR to get your AIA chapter on board.



ADPSR launches AIA Ethics Reform Petition

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) is asking the American Institute of Architects to amend its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to prohibit the design of spaces for torture and killing. In the United States, this comprises the design of execution chambers and super-maximum security prisons (“supermax”), which inflict torture through long-term solitary isolation. As people of conscience and as a profession dedicated to improving the built environment for all people, we cannot participate in the design of spaces that violate human life and dignity. Participating in the development of buildings designed for torture and killing is fundamentally incompatible with professional practice that respects standards of decency and human rights. AIA has the opportunity to lead our profession in upholding human rights.

Sign the Petition (link to left).

Read more here


The Housing Question:  ADPSR participates in a Roundtable Debate on Foreclosed:  Rehousing the American Dream

MOMA_Foreclosed.jpgNew York's Museum of Modern Art is currently hosting an exhibition exploring new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis, http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1230.

They asked 5 teams to envision new housing and transportation infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation,  The exhibit drew quick criticism, and there is a continuing debate with exhibit co-organizer Rheinhold Martin, ADPSR President Amit Price Patel, former President Raphael Sperry, IDEO fellow Liz Ogbu, and Professor Tom Angotti. 

Read the fascinating and important discussion about the state and future of public housing: http://places.designobserver.com/feature/foreclosed-exhibition-roundtable/34578/


ADPSR Volunteers work with local organizations on Prison repurposing project

Press Contact:  

Debbie Reyes, California Prison Moratorium Project, 559-367-6020

Frank Fontes, California Prison Moratorium Project, 559-593-2436




On June 2 in Chowchilla, CA,  twenty ADPSR architects and activists joined the California Prison Moratorium Project to imagine a new purpose to the Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW).  The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation has proposed converting the facillity to a men's prison, which is widely opposed in the local community.  ADPSR was invited to conduct a charrette with the objective of finding new uses for this facility that would benefit the local economy and environment.


There were morning presentations by local activists about the conditions of both the prison and the local community.  Like much of the Central Valley, Chowchilla faces a number of challenges:  extremely poor air quality, including particulates from diesel trucks and pesticides from agricultural spraying; groundwater tainted with a variety of contaminants, including arsenic; economic stress from high unemployment; and a variety of social stresses including high dropout rates, domestic violence, and poor quality health and health care.  Former ADPSR President Raphael Sperry also gave a presentation on how similar facilities has been converted around the world.


In the afternoon groups strategized alternative uses.  Options discussed included:

  • a sustainable agriculture research and operations facility, possibly including a processing facility for locally-grown food
  • an energy production facility
  • a bonding warehouse for imported products
  • a construction and maintenance facility for future high speed rail
  • a training facility for wildfire fighting personnel


Several options were developed by breakout groups.  More information about the charrette is available at http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/chowchilla.


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ADPSR 2014
Lewis Mumford Award Winners

Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) is pleased to honor its 21st annual Lewis Mumford Award recipients:

Peace: Ethan Zuckerman & the MIT Center for Civic Media, for their innovative work through creating global communications

Environment: Slow Money, Maine, as representative of Slow Money, National, for changing how money and investing work in a sustainable world

Development: Ken Smith & Youth Build Boston, as a representative of Youth Build National, for rebuilding community and self-respect

more at adpsr.org/home/mumford_awards

ADPSR presents:

ADPSR's Better
Envelope Solutions Showcase

March 19, 2014
San Francisco

Health and High Performance
in an Overheating World

Join us for an exceptional day of discovery as we explore green and low impact strategies for meeting the highest standards in energy efficiency. 

Click here to read more.

ADPSR 2013
Lewis Mumford Award Winners

Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) is pleased to honor its 20th annual Lewis Mumford Award recipients:

Peace: The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York

Environment: The Foundation for Green Future, Inc., Boston

Development: The Center for Urban Pedagogy, New York

more at adpsr.org/home/mumford_awards

OccupyOaklandGA-72.jpgADPSR Supports Freedom of Assembly

1. We support the right of citizens to peaceful protests and freedom of expression.
2. We support the principle of non-violent actions for social change.
3. We support the use of public space for political expressions and dialogues.
4. We stand in solidarity with communities and activist organizations around the world seeking democracy and economic, environmental and social justice.
5. We call architects, designers, landscape architects, and planners to support the Occupy Movement through individual and collective actions.

Read ADPSR's full support statement.