Editor's Note: This story was updated at 6:10 p.m. to include a statement from Peter Marino Architect.
In a statement issued this afternoon, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) Executive Director Benjamin Prosky announced that the organization would rescind two 2018 Design Awards given to projects by Richard Meier & Partners Architects and Peter Marino Architect, citing “allegations of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior” made against the architects.
Prosky tells RECORD that in light of the public allegations of sexual harassment against Meier, the board began looking into all of the other 2018 Design Award winners. Upon discovering two allegations of harassment against Marino (one still pending, another now settled), which Prosky characterizes as “very disturbing,” the executive committee of the AIANY made the unanimous decision that “it would not be the right thing to move forward” with honoring either architect at the AIANY’s awards luncheon, planned for April 20.
In a subsequent statement issued by Peter Marino Architect (PMA), the firm begins by stating that it is “committed to eliminating harassment from the workplace as is any other member of AIA New York,” before going on to say that the AIANY's decision (which PMA refers to as a “new policy”) “goes too far” in barring members from being honored “if there is any allegation pending - regardless of merit.” PMA also says that it has disputed the pending allegation—a hostile work environment claim—and has countersued the claimant. “That dispute with a former PMA employee bears no resemblance to the type of conduct that has garnered much recent public attention,” says the statement. “Nor does it merit any public rebuke from the AIA or any other professional colleague.” Richard Meier & Partners Architects has not issued a statement in response to the AIANY announcement.
When asked whether the group would consider revoking past awards in light of contemporary allegations, Prosky tells RECORD that the AIANY board’s efforts aren’t retroactive. “At this moment, there is not a movement to go back and reassess previous honors,” he says. “Because these awards were going to be bestowed at a forthcoming luncheon, the board had time to reflect and consider the appropriateness of our actions.”
Prosky adds: “We’re not here to judge; these are allegations. But as an organization that cares about the wellbeing of architecture, in order to foster an environment of accountability to the AIA code of ethics, we did our due diligence.”
The AIANY had announced in January that the Leblon Offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by Richard Meier & Partners Architects would receive the Architecture Merit Award, while the Lobster Club in New York City by Peter Marino Architect would receive the Interior Merit Award.
“Our decision does not speak to the design quality of the projects or the contributions from the respective firms’ design teams,” Prosky’s statement said. “Rather we cannot in good conscience confer these awards under these circumstances.”
Read the full statement from the AIANY on their website.