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Resilience and Ethical Imperatives for 2018

January 26, 2018
I would like to wish a happy new year and an exciting Spring semester to all our member schools and their respective academic communities. 2017 provided us with thought-provoking ACSA conferences in Detroit, Marfa, and Albuquerque, and we have numerous opportunities in 2018 for members to share their work through student competitions, journal articles, our annual awards, and ACSA conferences in Denver, Madrid, Milwaukee, and Quebec City. Personally, I have plenty of reasons to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago, after 110 days without power, electricity was finally restored in my neighborhood, and while the Fall semester at Universidad de Puerto Rico will carry over until February, our four architecture schools in Puerto Rico are operating as close to normal as the situation permits.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the dozens of schools that offered Puerto Rico schools support through student and faculty exchanges and other collaborations. Thank you to the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society, which generously contributed financial support to schools on the island. Finally, many institutions and individuals kindly donated to ACSA’s recent Puerto Rico campaign. Originally, the board set a goal of $10,000, and at this moment your generosity exceeded the target by $5,000. On behalf of ACSA and the schools of architecture in Puerto Rico, I thank you very much.

Last year four major hurricanes made landfall in the United States in less than a month, causing enormous humanitarian and economic disasters. Whether we saw the images on TV or witnessed them in person, it is difficult not to question our roles as educators and architects in the design, planning, and construction of cities, buildings, and infrastructure. As the theme to this year’s Annual Meeting makes clear, The Ethical Imperative for architecture faculty, students, and practitioners is to face the material, cultural, and economic effects of architecture.

As we enter 2018 we also face the imperative of designing resilient places. Regardless of this Administration's unfortunate stance toward the Paris Accord, global warming is real; it contributes to the creation and the strengthening of these monster storms. And the science indicates patterns of extreme weather events will increase, possibly becoming a new normal for those of us who live in vulnerable locations. Mother nature is speaking and we must listen.

As an educator, I am convinced that our architecture curricula can no longer treat the city and its sustainable development as elective interests to contextualize architectural objects. The design of cities affects the health, safety, and welfare of residents no less than the design of buildings and interior environments. I believe we should not relegate the urban scale to post-graduate debates that take place somewhere else. This discussion must occupy a central role in our programs.

Finally, it is time to build bridges of collaboration and not walls of segregation. Our discipline is fundamental to designing diverse, habitable, and sustainable environments. As ACSA president, I am committed to providing critical spaces for the creation, deliberation, and dissemination of knowledge, and I look forward to saluting you in person at the 106th Annual Meeting in Denver or during one of our other upcoming events.

- Francisco J. Rodriguez-Suarez, ACSA President

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