Gender and Racial Bias in Design Juries

Mark Paul Frederickson Source: Journal of Architectural Education (1984-), Vol. 47, No. 1 (Sep., 1993), pp. 38-48 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc

This study assesses the participation and interaction of various participants in the design jury process, that is, male and female jurors, male and female students, and racial minority students. Several consistently biased practices and procedures in design juries are identified and statistically examined. The findings presented here have been distilled from one portion of an ongoing comprehensive investigation of the inner workings and educational efficacy of design juries in architectural education. Initial portions of the overall research program were conducted by Mark Frederickson and Marvin Adelson at the University of California, Los Angeles. Investigation of studio education and review processes continues under Frederickson's guidance at the University of Arizona. THROUGH THEIR USE OF THE JURY SYSTEM, DESIGN EDUCATORS IN ARCHI- tecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and several studio arts share a fundamental method of evaluating design projects and render- ing feedback to students concerning their performance and abilities. The jury is a core element in many of these design curricula and a critical educational vehicle in which students verbally and graphically present their design work to an assembly of design teachers, visiting professionals, and student peers. It is a forum for building and com- municating ideas. Although intrajury communications are often flawed, I believe design juries to be rich in educational potential.1 After witnessing and participating in design reviews that were quite wonderful in their in- sight and thoughtful manner of communication, it became apparent to me that these few occasions deserved careful study, especially be- cause most juries appeared rarely to operate at, or even near, their full potential. For the past four years, Marvin Adelson and I have been in- vestigating both the potentials and the defects of jury environments in architectural design curricula. During the conceptual stages of our re- search, we initiated pilot studies as a means of ethnographically ex- ploring the subject.2 Early observations indicated that many problems seemed to be linked to interpersonal communications. One portion of this study revealed particularly destructive prejudicial behavior among and between jurors and students of different gender and race-biased conduct that likely discourages many of our most intelli- gent female and minority students from continuing on in school and the profession. There have been several interesting studies on studio education and the processes of designing and learning to design,3 but our initial literature review revealed little formal research on design juries except that of Kathryn Anthony. Her studies of design juries break new ground by refusing to accept the jury as sacrosanct. Although our study focuses much of its effort on the dynamics of intrajury commu- nications, Anthony's comparisons of faculty, student, and practitioner perceptions of the efficacy of the jury were helpful in establishing the need for more research in this area.

link to complete paper

Anthropology & Design

by Ron Burnett

Design practice is centred on audience(s). It matters little whether the audience is hypothetical, real or imagined, there is always someone for whom designs are created. This is often used as the fundamental distinction between design and art practices. The practice of creating art on the other hand, is seen as personal and evolving out of processes that don’t have an overt goal in mind. Yet, there are audiences for art, perhaps best exemplified by the fact that every major city in the world has an identifiable museum. And, do artists try and understand their audiences and cater to their needs? Let’s leave that question open for the time being.

The challenge of course is how do we understand audience, client and user?—Or, in the digital design world, the agent, interactor or participant? Another way of approaching audience is to create one, just as Apple did with the iPad and the iPod. Notice that irrespective of historical circumstances, projections or perceived needs, the term audience remains abstract. This is because it is virtually impossible to draw a straight line between for example, creating a logo and anticipating the response of groups of people to it—or, developing a product and knowing how clients or users will react to it. This is why designers often develop many alternative strategies to their designs and also work iteratively on various prototypes; all with the goal of creating something that will be closer to the perceived needs of the user.

In anthropology, efforts to understand both contemporary cultures and ancient ones are circumscribed by the challenges of observation, analysis and fieldwork. Prior to the revolution in anthropological thought provoked by George Marcus and Michael Fischer [4] in the 1980’s, there was endless debate among anthropologists about the relationship between observation and subjectivity. Put another way, to what extent does your own cultural, class and ethnic background influence what you see and what you observe? It is clear that your own personal history, desires and orientation will have a big impact on the conclusions that you draw from the observations you make. [5] The challenge therefore is to try and articulate what you know and examine how that may influence your assumptions about other people. It means that fieldwork is essential only if you bring to it a self-reflexive awareness of the contingent nature of the experiences you may have with complete strangers.

Designers are well aware of these obstacles and have developed many different strategies to deal with them. One of the most important is testing designs with users and trying to learn about utility, reaction and aesthetic response. But, how far does the process of learning about response go? To what extent are designers able to test their assumptions about their audiences? These issues are even more complex if as is often the case, designers are now crossing the boundaries into the ways in which people organize their lives (design thinking, design process), and the many ways in which design thinking is applied to businesses and to innovation.

“Professional design is now operating within an expanded and increasingly complex field. Some design professionals take solving complex social issues as their domain, often but not always working in close collaboration with specialists in public services from healthcare to those working with disadvantaged families to policing. Other designers and their ways of working are welcomed into business schools to teach the next generation of managers and leaders. Concepts and language that used to be associated with designers now enter other specialist areas: policymakers are told that public services should be more user-centered (Parker and Heapy 2006); businesses engage with customers by offering new meanings for things (Verganti 2009); the US Army is considering the role of design in warfare (School of Advanced Military Studies n.d.). Professional design, in particular design as practiced within the studio-based tradition of many art schools, is taking a new place on the world stage.” [3]

So much of the knowledge that we share in any given society is tacit. So many of the assumptions we make about ourselves and about others are unconscious. It is easy to say that designers should uncover their cultural bias. [6] But, which methods are best suited to the task? Janet Murray suggests bringing multiple stakeholders into the discussion of the design process “and elicit their different perspectives and needs.” [3]

Creating Economic Value by Design

John Heskett

School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

This paper examines the influence of major economic theories in shaping views of what constitutes value as created by design. It begins by examining Neo-Classical theory, which is dominant in the English-speaking world and underpins the ideology of the so-called “free market” system. Its focus on markets and prices as set by market forces are believed to solve all problems if left free from government interference. The implosion of this system and its emphasis on unrestricted individualism is a crisis of theory as well as practice. There are, however, other economic systems that relate to design in a more positive manner, such as Austrian theory and its belief that users determine value; institutional theory, which examines the influence of contexts and organizations; or New Growth Theory, which asserts the power of ideas as an unlimited resource in economic activity. These offer a window to business activity that enables designers to communicate the value of their work. Moreover, if the practical implications of these theoretical positions are understood by designers, it becomes possible to construct an extension of them that specifically addresses what the economic contribution of design can be in terms that business managers can understand.

Keywords – Design, Value Creation, Innovation. 

Relevance to Design Practice – Communicating clearly the value of design that designers can contribute to any organization is a continuous challenge. Understanding economic theory as it shapes business attitudes and conversely, how design can shape economic value, can be a valuable means of integrating design into business thinking.


This paper is an attempt to summarize work undertaken over several years on the relationship between economics and design. The origins of the project go back to meetings with officials of the U.S. Federal Department of Commerce and the Council on Competitiveness in the mid-1990s. The officials were all economists and it rapidly became clear their concept of design was of something superficial, easily copied and not really capable of generating value. They were educated, intelligent and courteous people, but it was clear that design had no role of any significance in their view of the economic world. 

Obviously for some reason, the discipline of economics does not acknowledge design. To be fair it must also be acknowledged that the discipline of design is deficient in communicating its economic role. Some designers might ask: why bother? My answer to that would be that basically, design is a professional business activity practiced overwhelmingly within business contexts and if designers cannot argue the economic relevance of their practice in convincing terms, the views of the officials I met in Washington will be justified and they will remain what the American designer, George Nelson, long ago termed “exotic menials.” 

The work of Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1978, is a rare exception of design being considered as a factor in economic theory. His starting point was acknowledging that the world we inhabit is increasingly artificial, created by human beings. For Simon (1981), design was not restricted to making material artefacts, but was a fundamental professional competence extending to policy-making and practices of many kinds and on many levels:

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a new sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state. Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. (p.129) 

Implicit in Simon’s reasoning is an emphasis on design as a thought-process underpinning all kinds of professional activities; yet the varied skills through which design is manifested are not discussed. He did indicate, however, why design is so rarely considered in economic theory. Economics, he stated, works on three levels, those of the individual; the market; and the entire economy (p. 31). The centre of interest in traditional economics, however, is markets and not individuals or businesses (p. 37). A serious problem is thereby raised at the outset: two important considerations relating to design—how goods and services are developed for the market place and how they are used—receive scant attention. 


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Resilient design for community safety and terror-resistant cities

J. Coaffee PhD, C. Moore PhD, D. Fletcher PhD and L. Bosher PhD, FRGS, MICDDS

Resilience against an array of traditional and unconventional terrorist threats is increasingly important to the way towns and\ cities are designed and managed and how built environment professionals attempt to enhance levels of community safety. This is particularly the case with regard to crowded public places and transport systems such as light rail or trams, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack. This paper argues that contemporary terrorist threats and tactics mean that counter-terrorism in urban areas should increasingly seek to hybridise hard and soft engineering solutions in order to design and manage the built environment in ways that can reduce the occurrence or impact of a terrorist attack. In particular, it is argued that for counter-terrorism to be successful, inter-professional solutions are required for a wide range of public, private and community stakeholders that are (or should be) involved with the planning, design, construction, operation and management of public places. 


Successful places are safe, well maintained and well managed. Achieving this depends on managing the physical asset effectively and appropriately. With the right structures, people who live and use the place will be able to influence what happens there.1

Community safety is a broad issue that has become central to recent UK Government attempts to create sustainable communities and secure public places. For example, Safer Places: The Planning System and Crime Prevention argued that ‘safety and security are essential to successful, sustainable communities’.2 Not only are such places well-designed, attractive environments in which to live and work, they are also places where freedom from crime—and from the fear of crime—improves the quality of life. This guide identified seven ‘attributes of sustainability’ that should be considered as ‘prompts’ to thinking about promoting community safety.2 These attributes, summarised in Table 1, draw significantly on the ideas of ‘crime prevention through environmental design’ and ‘defensible space’, which have been utilised by built environment professionals and law enforcement agencies since the 1970s.

Increasingly, these are also attributes that are entering current discourse on countering terrorism in urban areas, although such attempts to reduce terrorist risk are by no means unprecedented. 

During the 1990s, the experience of UK authorities in attempting to ‘design out’ terrorism was largely confined to efforts to stop car bombing (or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices
( VBIEDs)) by the Provisional Irish Republican Army ( PIRA) against the economic infrastructure in London. More recently, concerns about the likelihood and impact of terrorist attack on crowded public places using a variety of novel and experimental deployment methods (e.g. the failed attacks in central London and a partially successful VBIED at Glasgow airport in 2007) has heightened the sense of fear in many urban locations as future attacks against ‘soft targets’ appear more likely. Such forms of terrorist attack also have echoes of a spate of PIRA bombings in the mid-1970s against soft targets such as pubs and restaurants.

In short, over the last five years, the threat of terrorism has evolved rapidly; new approaches to countering terrorism are needed in response. Terrorism is understood here to mean one of many operational methods deployed either singularly or as part of a campaign so as to affect one or more targets, thereby affecting political, social and economic life.3

Crowded public places (e.g. shopping areas, transport systems, sports and conference arenas) in particular are at high risk. Furthermore, they cannot be subject to traditional security approaches such as searches and checkpoints without radically changing public experience. The creation of an environment that is inherently more resilient and less likely to suffer attack through ‘designing in’ counter-terrorism to physical and managerial urban systems, offers hope of improving security in an acceptable as well as effective way.

Within this context, this paper sets out the challenges for municipal engineers, built environment professionals and security agencies to increase the terror resistance of our cities through physical intervention and managerial measures—the hardware and software of ‘resilient planning’.4 The approaches described form the basis of ongoing research by the authors (Fig. 1).


Before the events of 9/11, threats of terrorism predominantly came from VBIEDs targeting major financial or political centres. In response, attempts to counter terrorism often utilised planning regulations and advanced technology to create ‘security zones’ or ‘rings of steel’ where access was restricted and surveillance significantly enhanced.5 9/11 made such counter- terrorist tactics appear inadequate, and security policy began to 

shift to proactive and pre-emptive solutions based on ideas of resilience—defined here as ‘the ability to detect, prevent and if necessary handle disruptive challenges.This includes but is not limited to disruptive challenges arising from the possibility of a terrorist attack’.6 This has forced a rethinking of traditional emergency planning and counter-terrorist tactics given the increased magnitude of the threats faced—especially those from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) sources which many terrorist groups have expressed significant interest in utilising in attacks, and which, in the words of the UK prime minister, could hit ‘anywhere and from any place’.7 Equally, however, the threat posed by person-borne explosive devices in crowded public places (e.g. the Bali pub bombings in 2002 and the Madrid train attacks in 2004) is setting new challenges for professionals involved in providing security in crowded places, especially in light of the suicide attacks on the London transport network in July 2005 and the London and Glasgow attacks in July 2007.

Although debates on the relationship between new and traditional threats continue, the methods and tactics adopted by terror groups are novel, innovative and increasingly focused on mass casualty strikes or multiple coordinated attacks. Such attacks, often conducted by suicide attackers and tactically aimed at ‘soft’ targets and more generally crowded places, have led to considerable ongoing and multi-disciplinary research.8 Crowded areas have features in common (such as their lack of access control), but may be bounded (e.g. a stadium or train) or unbounded (e.g. a shopping area). Some policy-related work has helped to understand the changing nature of the threat in relation to evolving groups such as Al Qaeda.9 Nevertheless, much of the academic work post-9/11 fails to offer the truly multi- disciplinary and inter-professional approach needed to develop strategies to maintain community safety by deterring terrorism in public places while ensuring public acceptability of the security measures. While iconic buildings and specific hubs such as airports have long been identified as targets for terror attacks, a more general reading of public places is also required if resilience is to be enhanced. For example, public places such as shopping centres, pubs, clubs and markets may be especially crowded at specific times of the day or year. Depending on their social and cultural function, public places may be fixed, but they may also be cordoned-off due to events and subject to impromptu queuing and crowding. Although public places such as shopping malls or train stations serve a community, they may be simultaneously linked to the private sector, and accordingly, they could be crowded at peak shopping or travel times. Together, this blend of changing terror methods and targets, especially those directed at crowded places in urban centres, provides a challenge for security professionals and practitioners.

National policy makers and the security services now perceive attacks against crowded public places as one of their key priorities in the ongoing fight against terrorism.  

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