One of our responsibilities as architects is to protect the health, safety and welfare of people through our work. These protections are prescribed through building design codes and standards. Many of our team members and colleagues are also AIA members — and must meet further regulations under the AIA Code of Ethics. These include: upholding human rights, not engaging in discrimination, providing an equitable work environment and many more. As June comes to a close, we sat down with our Director of Operations, David Stone, AIA, NCARB, to reflect upon the importance of PRIDE: Promote Respect, Inclusion, and Dignity for Everyone, Personal Rights in Defense and Education.
“I came out when I was 17. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, I was terrified of coming out in a very conservative state. When I initially told people, I was met with what I thought was a strange reaction. I was told it would be the worst business decision I would ever make in my life. It turned out not to be… I think I’ve had nothing but good experiences in this field,” shared David during a recent AIA panel entitled Building an Equitable Firm: A Dialogue on Pride, Pronouns, and Gender Neutral Spaces. “I recognize however, that my experience as a gay man may be much different than others who identify as LGBTQ+.”
His advice to those who may be part of a workplace not demonstrating equity and inclusion? “It starts with you,” he explains. “There is that old adage: ‘see something, say something,’ and you have to live by that. Do not expect others to be the catalyst for change; you have to be willing to do it yourself. If there are consequences, then maybe that was not the right workplace for you. There is something better out there.”
In 2018, David relocated from Orlando to Los Angeles to join Tim Barber Architects (TBA). As an integral part of our team who works closely with every staff member, maintaining and fostering an equitable workplace is one of his top priorities. “Working for an office that accepts every person for who they are and what they bring to the table can be life-changing and life-affirming. Beyond the social aspects of it, I find it imperative in our industry. As creative people, it is uplifting to work in a place that looks beyond labels, and looks to what a person has to offer. At TBA, we are interested in a person’s skills and abilities, the rest have no merit,” he shares.
While David stays (plenty!) busy managing our studio, he continues to be a dedicated member of many community endeavors. As Chairperson of CANstruction Orlando for six years, he helped lead the effort to organize this local event — which brings together over a dozen architecture, engineering and community group teams to build elaborate sculptures from food cans. The entry fees and cans are donated to Second Harvest Food Bank at the end of the competition. “In Los Angeles, I am in the process of trying to revive the local chapter and build an event here,” he shares. His favorite CANstruction memories? See the images below!
Following the Pulse nightclub tragedy of June 12, 2016, David became involved with the onePULSE Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to: create and support a memorial that opens hearts, a museum that opens minds, educational programs that open eyes and legacy scholarships that open doors. “I worked with the onePulse Board and Foundation to develop a survey evaluating the needs and opinions of the victim’s families, survivors, first responders and the public for a Memorial and Museum. It was imperative to understand what they believed would be the best way to memorialize the tragedy,” David says. After an Interim Memorial was erected, which David helped design along with a team of artists and landscape architects, a design competition for the permanent National Memorial & Museum launched in March 2019. The event garnered 68 submissions from 19 countries. French architecture firm Coldefy & Associates, along with RDAI and Orlando-based HHCP, were selected as the winning design firm. Learn more about the design and construction of the National Pulse Memorial & Museum here.
Top: A rendering of the permanent National Pulse Memorial during the day. Bottom: A rendering of the permanent National Pulse Memorial & Museum. Images courtesy of Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation.
David has also shared his passion for a Los Angeles organization with our staff. My Friend’s Place (MFP) is a non-profit resource center that assists and inspires youth experiencing homelessness to build self-sufficient lives. The TBA team has served lunch, revamped their clothing “shop” and just recently completed the transformation of their parking lot to an outdoor services area. When our team isn’t volunteering with MFP, David also serves as the Membership Chairperson for the MFP Emerging Leadership Council, a group of young professionals dedicated to advancing their mission. “Our involvement consists of mentoring and socializing with the youth, including one of my favorite events, which is an ice cream social on New Year’s Day. My husband Mark and I also led the improvement of the MFP staff lounge to give back to those who work there.”
Top: TBA staff working on MFP’s outdoor services center, which was completed this month. One of the improvements is new artificial greenery on the fence surrounding the parking lot. Bottom: MFP’s revamped clothing shop, designed by TBA. The shop gives homeless youth the opportunity to choose needed apparel and also enjoy the shopping experience.
“The lifelong friends I have made along the way both inside and outside of the organizations themselves,” David explains, is an unexpected personal outcome of his community involvement. While he splits his time between several meaningful endeavors, his devotion to our staff, projects and homeowners is unwavering. At TBA, we’re proud to have David as just one of the many incredible members of our team — all of whom make our studio what it is today.
To support onePULSE Foundation’s mission and contribute to the permanent National Memorial & Museum, explore www.outlovehate.com. And for more information about what it means to work at an equitable firm, visit: Human Rights Campaign and Out & Equal.