Did you know?
The buildings where we work and live are constructed with the inescapable use of forced and child labor. Consumers and corporations have become more aware about the use of forced labor in agriculture, the garment industry, and in electronics manufacturing. But our awareness about slavery’s imprint on the buildings we work in, the stadiums we are entertained in, and the homes we live in, are not part of our awareness and global conversation.
Architecture and construction are risky business if you consider how many common building materials are produced through labor exploitation. While few items are exempt from the chance of any exploitation in their supply chain, a number of inputs consistently are raising red flags in the fight against modern slavery. These global materials listed below are at risk of being made with forced and child labor under the most horrific and dangerous conditions. With awareness we can initialize change that can lead to the elimination of such pernicious practices.
“The ability to wipe out modern slavery in the built environment when it happens–will have been largely driven by the ability to aggregate big data and truly track–for the first time–the impact of modern slavery on product and labor markets in design and construction.”
Nat Oppenheimer, Executive Vice President, Silman
Working Group Participant
What can we do?
The path forward begins with awareness. By convening a cross-section of leading industry experts and principals to collaborate and share information, industry leaders can integrate slave-free criteria at intervention points within the ecosystem including contracts, specifications, procurement, documentation, auditing of construction materials, mobilizing the full ecosystem of the global design and construction industry. The steps to confront slavery in the built environment could include how we incentivize the industry to collect data and develop industry-wide standards and best-practices, including company-wide education on ethical procurement policies and closing legal and policy loopholes that perpetuate the illegal use of forced labor.
“But as consumers become more concerned with where their pants are being made, who grows their coffee beans, and their electricity use, it’s reasonable to expect them to demand that the architecture they inhabit is realized without slave labor, too.”
The work we are starting
Grace Farms Foundation takes a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to advance good in the world. This approach continues as we build awareness about forced labor in the built environment supply chains. The Working Group first met in November 2018, formed in collaboration with The Architect’s Newspaper and participants from Grace Farms’ construction and design team. As we look to the future, we are taking initial steps to increase awareness about the industry’s historical and current relationship to modern slavery.
- September 4 | Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group (GFF-A+CWG) meeting, held at the Center for Architecture, hosted by Hayes Slade (AIA NY, President-elect & Slade Architecture) and Benjamin Prosky (AIA NY, Executive Director).
- September 5 | At the 2019 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Congress (IABSE) in New York City, participants of Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group (GFF-A+CWG) presented the abstract – Designing Freedom: Ending Modern Slavery in the Built Environment. The abstract was presented by Nat Oppenheimer, Executive Vice President at award-winning structural engineering firm Silman, and Amb. Luis c.deBaca, Senior Justice Advisor at Grace Farms Foundation.
- October 6 | Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder of GFF, participated on a panel at the Top1000Funds Fiduciary Investors Symposium held at Harvard University. The discussion focused on Can the Finance Industry Help Impact Modern Slavery?
- November 15 | At Grace Farms, the Designing for Freedom panel discussion provided an opportunity for the public and industry professionals to learn more about the use of modern slavery in material procurement in the built environment with Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder of GFF, Amb. Luis c.deBaca, Senior Justice Initiative Advisor at GFF, Nat Oppenheimer, EVP, Silman Associates and structural engineer for Grace Farms, and Hayes Slade, President of AIA New York and Founding Partner and Principal of Slade Architecture. Speakers are part of GFF Architecture + Construction Working Group.
Upcoming Engagements + Projects
- May 21, 2020 | Grace Farms Foundation and Pratt Institute School of Architecture at Venice Biennale.
- Spring 2020 (TBD) | Dean of Yale’s School of Architecture, Deborah Berke, is scheduling a lecture series to address exploitation in the building materials supply chain.
- Pilot projects are under consideration.
“Men, women, and children are kept in involuntary servitude to produce materials that range from gravel to rare earth minerals, from glass to fiber. The same integrated sourcing advances that allow you to specify a particular Brazilian hardwood or Turkish marble are also bringing the underlying conditions of the workers into your project.”
Here is a snapshot from our suppliers of the raw and composite materials that went into our award-winning River building. Now consider there are 400 to 600 raw materials and 75 to 100 composite building products, representing 95 percent of materials that can go into creating any one structure. This snapshot provides a glimpse into the complexity of the building environment supply chains.
Designing for Freedom
Working Group at the AIA NY | Center for Architecture
A Convening of the Architecture + Construction Working Group
To receive more information on the GFF Architecture + Construction Working Group, please submit your information here.
Architecture + Construction Working Group Participants
Adams, Kenyon Victor | Grace Farms Foundation, Arts Initiative Creative Dir.
Baxi, Kadambari | Barnard, Professor, Who Builds Your Architecture?
Berke, Deborah | Yale School of Architecture, Dean
Bernstein, Phil | Yale School of Architecture, Assoc. Dean
Blackstock, Kaley | Gensler, Sustainable Design Specialist
Bradley, Paul | Lendlease (U.S.), Global Supply Chain Manager
Bronet, Dr. Frances | Pratt Institute, President
Bucher, Alissa | Rogers Partners, Partner
Burke-Vigeland, Madeline | Gensler, Principal
Califano, Mark | Nardello & Co., CLO and Regional Managing Director of the Americas
c.deBaca, Luis | Grace Farms Foundation, Ambassador & Senior Justice Advisor
Coppedge, Susan (Amb.) | Nardello & Co., Managing Director
Crawford, Jill | Type A Projects, Partner
Darling, Diana | The Architect’s Newspaper, Co-founder and Publisher
Denison, Dirk | Dirk Denison Architects, Founding Principal and MCHAP Director at IIT
Dixit, Laura Diamond | Columbia, Ph.D., Who Builds Your Architecture?
DuBois, Bill | Gensler, Construction Specifier
Gans, Deborah | GANS Studio, Founder
Gilbert, Jared | CookFox Architects, Dir. of Communications
Green, Michael | MGA, Founder
Guilliams, Gabe | BuroHappold, Principal Lighting Specialist
Harriss, Dr. Harriet | Pratt School of Architecture, Dean
Hernandez-Eli, Jhaelen | NYC Economic Development Corp., SVP
Idenburg, Florian | SO-IL, Founding Principal
Kaiman, Elliot | Wiggin and Dana, Construction Attorney
Khattabi, Rod | Grace Farms Foundation, Chief Accountability Officer & Justice Initiative Dir.
King, Leslie, Esq. | Carlton Fields, Shareholder, Construction Litigation
Klemmer, Andy | Paratus Group, Founder & President
Liu, Jing | SO-IL, Founding Principal
Lynch, Brad | Brininstool + Lynch, Founding Principal
MacDonald, Shawn | Verite, CEO
Malekshahi, Mark. M | Zubatkin Owner Representation, LLC, Senior Project Manager
Maloney, Kate | Grace Farms Foundation, AD of Global Partnerships & Research
Marroquin, Diego | The World Around, Co-Founder, Developer
McGuigan, Cathleen | Architectural Record, Editor-in-Chief
Menking, Bill | Architect’s Newspaper, Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Miller, Peter | Palette Architecture, Partner
Mizzi, Joe | Sciame Construction, President & COO
Moote, Kilian | Know the Chain/Humanity United, Project Director
Natke, Patricia Saldaña | UrbanWorks, Founding Principal
Oppenheimer, Nat | Silman, Executive Vice President
Prince, Sharon | Grace Farms Foundation, CEO and Founder
Ricks, Alan | MASS Design, Founding Principal
Rillosi, Antonio | Extra Vega, Founder & CEO
Rogers, Rob | Rogers Partners, Founding Principal
Rolland, Ann | FXCollaborative Architects, Partner
Schaeberle, Carolyn | Pratt Institute, Dir. Center Sustainable Design
Sharples, Chris | SHoP, Founding Principal
Short, Annabel | Institute for Human Rights and Business (NY), Leading Built Environment
Slade, Hayes | Slade Architecture and AIA NY, Immediate Past President
Thatcher, Chelsea | Grace Farms Foundation, Chief Marketing Officer
Trubiano, Franca | University of Pennsylvania, Mellon Faculty, Humanities, Urbanism, Design
Ulicny, Dr. Brian | Thomson Reuters Labs – Boston, Founding Member
Walker, Darren | Ford Foundation, President
Weisz, Claire | WXY Studio, Founding Principal
Yoshida, Shohei | Shohei Yoshida and Associates, Principal
*Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.
American Institute of Architects
Dodge, Sarah | AIA, Senior VP of Advocacy & Relationships
Prosky, Benjamin | AIA NY, Executive Director
Seidel, Paula | AIA, Senior Director, Industry and Int’l Relations
Yao, Kim | AIA NY, President
- Leslie P. King and Luis C. de Baca | An Ancient Problem, A New Awareness: Slavery in Construction Materials Supply Chains
- Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation | On the Coalition to End Slavery in the Built Environment
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Modern Slavery In Construction
- Building a Fairer System: Tackling Modern Slavery in Construction Supply Chains
- US Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor
- Know the Chain | Forced Labor in Forestry
- World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS) by World Bank
- Global Slavery Index
- TFTEA | Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015
- Building Responsibly | Worker Welfare Principles
- Who Builds Your Architecture? A Critical Field Guide
- Grace Farms Foundation Expands the Effort to Disrupt Modern-Day Slavery by Focusing on the Supply Chain for Building Materials Worldwide