Architecture is more than an aesthetic art of building for human use. Architecture reflects the social, political, and cultural environment - the time within which it exists. As designers we have to confront complex problems, avoid unintended consequences, and understand how to embed resilience, equity, and diversity into our structures. UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design has not only taught us how to construct space but also how to criticize, to analyze, to be a thinker and challenge those that came before us.
Our time at CED began quite normal as any architectural program goes - late nights to Strada, hiking the Fire Trails to escape studio, building human sized section models, studio trips along International Blvd and New York. This quickly transformed into a year of change, of demand, a call for justice within our school and around the world. It became an education with much more depth than I could have ever anticipated. We spoke out and made demands to not only change the academic curriculum and pedagogy, but also to revise the foundational philosophy of CED and ensure representation is visibly seen and heard throughout the halls of Wurster Hall. To say this generation is making an impact, is an understatement.
Graduates, let’s take a moment to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge how much of an accomplishment this is. The year 2020 has truly been historic, a year like no other, to graduate within the midst of a Global Pandemic. It felt like every month something new and major was happening. The year began with a toilet paper shortage to fires blazing across Australia and on the west coast. The blood red colored skies are a testament to the crisis of climate change. The year of chaos quickly accelerated into lockdowns, deaths, and movements demanding change; we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, mourned the death of Justice Ginsberg, and watched white supremacists attempt to overthrow democracy by storming the United States Capitol.
Graduates, this isn’t goodbye. Our journey together has just begun. We have all opened our eyes to the racial injustice that occurs every day and how we can begin to dismantle the structure that upholds white supremacy within the walls of architecture. This was the first of many steps towards a more just and equitable society. Thank you to the administration for hearing our concerns when we voiced it, to our professors for continuing to educate us, to our families that never ceased to support us in our journey. I look forward to creating change across the world with every one of you. Congratulations to us all for overcoming a whole year of zoom school!