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ARCH auction for black women in architecture school

David Adjaye, Forensic Architecture and Daniel Libeskind donate works to support black women in architecture school

David Adjaye's gold sketch of multifaith complex The Abrahamic Family House and Mark Foster Gage's satirical plan for a Trump presidential library are among works for sale in an auction fundraising to support black women in architecture school.

Organised by architectural initiative ARCH, the auction launches today and will run for one week to raise funds for a scholarship programme for black women.

"To tackle systemic racism in the field of architecture and design, we need to make studying these subjects more accessible to aspiring black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) architects, who have historically been underrepresented and under-supported," said ARCH, which stands for Architecture for Change.

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Top: David Adjaye's sketch of The Abrahamic Family House. Above: Daniel Libeskind's drawing of the Jewish Museum is in the auction

Nearly 70 architects and designers have donated architectural works to the auction including Daniel Libeskind, Hector Esrawe, Jennifer Bonner, David Rockwell, Jerome Byron, Sean Griffiths and Perry Kulper.

Among the items for sale is American-Polish architect Libeskind's charcoal sketch of his Jewish Museum in Berlin, which composed of a print with a hand drawing on top.

Also up for auction is Adjaye's drawing of The Abrahamic Family House realised in 24-karat gold leaf, and research agency Forensic Architecture's image of its Triple-Chaser project, which used machine learning to verify objects in human rights violations such as tear gas grenades and chemical weapons.

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Michel Rojkind has contributed a laser-cut MDF model of his firm's concrete concert hall Foro Boca

ARCH will donate 100 per cent of net proceeds from the auction to the Desiree V Cooper Memorial Fund, which was established by the Architects Foundation in memory of the late, black female architect Desiree V Cooper.

Architects Foundation, which is the American Institute of Architect's philanthropic arm, said it aims to address the fact that black women are "hugely underrepresented", citing the statistic that less than 500 black women are licensed architects in the US.

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Other items for sale include Triple-Chaser by Forensic Architecture

Originally founded in 2015, the scholarship was relaunched this year to support black women in their architecture studies at any National Architectural Accrediting Board accredited institution. Each recipient will receive $25,000 towards their education.

"With critical volunteer interest and support, Architects Foundation was able to relaunch fundraising for this award in 2020 and will award our first scholarship in 2021,” said James Walbridge, president of the Architects Foundation.

"Help us continue the momentum and honour Desiree's memory by creating a pathway to equity in architecture."

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Mark Foster Gage created this  floor plan for an imaginary presidential library for Donald Trump

Mexican architect Michel Rojkind has donated a laser-cut MDF model of his firm's concrete concert hall Foro Boca and American architect Foster Gage is giving away a floor plan of an imaginary presidential library for Donald Trump.

Other architects, designers and studios who have contributed to the auction are Leroy Street Studio, Hernan Diaz Alonso, FreelandBuck, Jean Pierre Crousse and FORMA.

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Items in the auction, like Fast Twitch by Perry Kulper, will form part of a digital archive

ARCH has teamed up with London-based Studio Fax and web developer Felix Steindl to create a pared-back aesthetic for the auction.

"The ARCH visual identity is a container, which translates into a platform that is able to gather architectural artefacts from all over the world to help a strong cause, as a community would do,” said Studio Fax founders Dario Gracceva and Aldo D'Angelo.

The platform will serve as a digital archive of works, showcasing the variety and styles of architectural drawings.

"Building the archive means that ARCH is not only creating a platform to raise money to support important causes but it is also providing a research tool for students and professionals," they continued.

"It is the perfect afterlife of an auction platform of this kind."

ARCH auction for black women in architecture school
Mexican designer Hector Esrawe has donated this sketch from his sketchbook

ARCH is led by architectural designers Claire Haugh and Alison Zuccaro, fashion designer Lucy Haugh, architect Miroslava Brooks, editor Eleanor Gibson and digital strategist Sarah Berkman. It was founded this year in the wake of anti-racism protests in the US state after the killing of African-American man George Floyd in police custody.

It is among a number of initiatives that were established in the aftermath to address and improve racial equality in the architecture and design profession.

Earlier this year students and alumni of Harvard GSD also launched an online sale of items donated by architects and designers, including an IKEA chair signed by Virgil Abloh to fundraise for organisations that fight for racial equality.

Other examples to address racism include a Google Docs spreadsheet listing black-owned studios and anti-racism design conference Where are the Black Designers?.