Envisioning and Creating Better Design Through Diversity / by SHOKO SMITH


Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a much discussed topic.  At GSBS, it goes far beyond discussion. 

As part of the on-going commitment the firm has made, students in the University of Utah's “Discover Architecture' program visited the firm recently, as part of the firm's sponsorship.  According to Mimi Locher, Chair of the School of Architecture, 19 students were enrolled this year, including 4 students from White Horse High School thanks to sponsors like GSBS Architects. 

“We understand that well-designed built environments play an integral role in the health and well-being of the people who inhabit them, and we endeavor not only to create buildings and experiences that enrich people’s lives but also to provide access to architecture education for students from diverse backgrounds who otherwise might not have the opportunity to learn about architecture and the value of well-designed environments. We in turn learn a great deal from these students – they teach us about their cultures and life experiences and help us understand new ways of being in the world,” Locher said.


GSBS landscape architect David Garce says the U's program is designed to encourage students of color to consider architecture for a profession.   “We have also been very active in reaching out to Native American populations, including Uintah River High School Seniors on the Ute reservation in Ft. Duchesne in May. 

Garce  returned from Washington, D.C.  at the end of June after participating in the American Society of Landscape Architects (ALSA) 2018 Diversity Summit.  He was the first and only Native American (Catawba) in attendance among 14 participants, and 10 ASLA leaders, including national ASLA President Greg Miller. Garce said that the benchmarks prioritized from the 2017 Diversity Super Summit were reviewed, then, through an intense 3-day working session, explored strategies for developing resources that can assist implementing diversity, and inclusion practices into business practices.

He noted that the support from GSBS Architects for his involvement with Utah High School students, student chapters of the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers, Utah State University Landscape Architecture Department, and the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning Diversity Program provided a relevant yet overlooked perspective to the Summit’s goals.

GSBS President Kevin Miller said, “Great design is the product of broad life experience, an understanding how people live, work and play, and the ability to envision how people will really interact with a design.  More diversity in the design professions can only improve the quality of our buildings, places and spaces and the lives of the people who use them.”