Ethics and the Practice of Architecture

Ethics and the Practice of Architecture

Ethics and the Practice of Architecture

Ethics and the Practice of Architecture


From theory to practice a unique, well-rounded guide to ethics for today's architect

How does an architect assist a community in evaluating alternative designs? Resolve a dispute with a contractor? Take into account a project's impact on the natural environment?

When it comes to questions like these, making decisions about what ought to be done or what is the "best" or "right" solution requires more than sound technical knowledge and strong design talent. It demands a solid understanding of the ethical issues that lie at the heart of architectural practice.

Ethics and the Practice of Architecture offers a complete, broad-based introduction to this crucial subject. First, it examines basic ethical theories and their application to architecture, and discusses different ways of identifying ethical content in architecture. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, the second part of the book surveys different professional settings and building project processes that frequently hold ethical concerns, and charts the ethical mandates that arise from them.

In the final section of the book, thirty case studies explore a wide range of ethical dilemmas encountered in architectural practice, with useful guidance on how to work through them effectively. Arranged by topics that span the key phases of a project from pre-design through post-occupancy evaluation, these case studies allow a detailed look at ethical concerns in real-life situations where multiple issues are often at stake.

Providing a practical framework for the exploration of ethical issues in architecture today, Ethics and the Practice of Architecture is an excellent resource for present and future architects in all areas of the field.


This book had its genesis with the receipt of an AIA Educators/Practitioners grant from the AIA Education Committee to develop a course on ethics for use by practitioners in their offices and educators in their classrooms. That original grant was awarded to Barry Wasserman, FAIA, and Patrick Sullivan, FAIA, both on the architecture faculty of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), and Thomas Payette FAIA, president of Payette Associates of Boston. The subsequent course material, “Awareness, Understanding, Choices: Ethics and the Profession in an Ever Changing World,” was completed in its basic form in 1989. Its three-tiered iterative learning approach of Awareness, Understanding, and Choices suggested the use of participatory learning processes whenever possible.

As this work was completed, its basic premises were presented in discussions of ethics at the initial AIA/ACSA Summer Practice Institutes in Sante Fe in 1992 by Barry Wasserman and Patrick Sullivan. Subsequently elements of the material were utilized in courses taught at Cal Poly Pomona by Professors Wasserman and Sullivan. Additionally the course premise, outline, and some of the Choices element with initial case studies were presented in workshops at AIA national conventions in Minneapolis (1996), New Orleans (1997), and Dallas (1999), and at the AIA California Council Monterey Design Conference (1998).

Over the ensuing years, it became apparent to Professors Wasserman and Sullivan that there was a need for a comprehen-

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