The AIA|LA Board of Directors named Joshua A. Foster, Assoc. AIA and USC Architecture alumnus, the recipient of the Robert Kennard, FAIA-Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Award. This prestigious award recognizes Joshua's outstanding advocacy for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) values and his unwavering commitment to fostering meaningful connections with all communities in support of the architectural profession.

From his early focus on the design and construction of affordable and market-rate housing projects in Los Angeles County, to his education in real estate development, Joshua transformed his experiences into founding JAF Creative Solutions (JAF), a community impact-focused strategic partnership and engagement consultancy firm.

AIA|LA recently had a sit down with Joshua and gained insight into his perspective on this well-deserved recognition. 

Q. Your recognition with the AIA|LA Board of Director's Award underscores your leadership in advancing equity and inclusivity within architectural practice and community outreach. Can you share examples of how your work has directly engaged with communities to promote equitable design principles and foster meaningful change? 

A. The core values and mission of my firm, JAF, is founded in the vision of building communities to the height of their potential by leveraging the resources of the partners in and around these communities while celebrating the unique and beautiful culture within. Through JAF, we've built an efficient process of authentic engagement outcomes and tangible community impact returns that extends beyond the design and development world through intentional grassroots communication strategies and active implementation. I believe that authentic and intentional engagement and partnerships lead to equitable design, construction, and development. This has been seen through our work on community centers, office spaces, educational buildings, masterplans, and more. 

Q. Equitable design is pivotal in addressing the diverse needs of communities. Could you discuss some of the initiatives or projects you've been involved in that have effectively addressed these needs, and how your leadership has played a role in championing these efforts? 

A. Beyond my day-to-day work through my firm JAF, I have a deep focus, passion, and purpose for promoting equitable design, development, and construction through the empowerment of design professionals. This is seen through my commitment as an educator, speaker, and board member of multiple non-profits focusing on that very mission. As Adjunct Architecture Faculty at East Los Angeles College, a Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI), I teach Introduction to Architecture classes in a way that focuses on what the student can bring to the profession rather than what the profession can do for them. Furthering an emphasis on higher education, I was elected to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) as their first ever community college faculty Board Director in an effort to strengthen the pipeline and pathway from community college students into accredited architecture programs. As a member of the NOMA National Board as the National Historian, I focus my efforts on bringing awareness to and preserving the forgotten history of architects of color who were the foundational figures of equitable design. Lastly as a board member for Architecture + Advocacy, the USC Architectural Guild, and the Long Beach Community Design Center, I have leveraged my network to bring the resources of the building industry to nonprofits that focus on the equipping of youth with the tools to make impactful change.

Q. Architects have a unique role in shaping the built environment. In your view, what are the most effective ways for architects to lead conversations and initiatives that prioritize equitable design, both within the profession and when collaborating with communities? 

A. It's simple. Just start by listening. Too often, architects and building professionals rely on their own expertise to set the foundation for design. While that expertise is important in the full picture of a project's success, if the foundation is not grounded in the voices of the experts of the communities that we are building in then no amount of design excellence can lead to true equitable projects. Jacqueline Novogratz, the author of Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, eloquently stated that "When we fail to listen to those the world excludes, we lose the possibility of solving problems that matter most to all of us. But when we succeed at listening with all our attention and empathy, we have a chance to set others and ourselves free.” I believe this is truly the key to equitable design. When we listen first, then we can begin to lead conversations of equitable design within our profession.

Celebrate Joshua Foster and other award recipients at the upcoming AIA|LA Design Awards on November 30th. 

This announcement was published on AIALOSANGELES.org


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