The J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, is dedicated to the advancement of design practice, education, research and advocacy in ways that build and sustain resilient and just communities, cities, and region.

The JMBC Newsletter is Back!

JMBC Staff
Toni L. Griffin

Director & Professor of Architecture

Esther Yang
Deputy Director

Damon Arrington
2015 J. Max Bond Scholar

Quilian Riano
2015 JMBC Senior Fellow

Christina Bien-Aimé
Office Assistant

J. Max Bond Center 
Spitzer School of Architecture
City College of New York
141 Convent Avenue, Rm 002
New York, NY 10031


The JMBC newsletter is back!  Pardon our absence over the last 18 months, but we've been quite busy launching our Legacy City Design website, publishing The Just City Essays, Volume 1, mentoring students of color interested architecture, and much more.

We have had an exciting three semesters worth of projects since our last newsletter.  We raised over $230,000 for projects and renovated of the Bond Center office.  We awarded two J. Max Bond Scholars, Muhammad Saleh (2014-15) and Damon Arrington (2015-16), hired over 10 student interns and involved nearly 60 student volunteers in our project efforts.  We established new partnerships with Gehl Architects, the well-known Copenhagen design firm, the New York Municipal Art Society, the Nature of Cities and the online urban publication, Next City. And we just published two reports from our signature research initiatives, Mapping Legacy Cities and Inclusion in Architecture, a study documenting the state of African Americans and Hispanics in architectural practice and the academy.

We have also had a great time getting out and talking about our work as well as promoting dynamic conversations about design and the just city.  We've been invited to speak at over 25 conference and university lecture serieshosted the 2013 Structures for Inclusion Pubic Interest Design Workshop, launched the JMBC Talks series, a informal lecture series curated by Spitzer School of Architecture students and faculty, and have been a supporter of the NYCOBA/AIA Diversity Committee annual J. Max Bond Lecture during Archobter events in New York City.
There’s so much to catch up on! We hope enjoy our new online edition of JMBC News and we look forward to continuing to expand the platforms that keep you engaged and informed by our efforts.

The Just City Essays, Volume 1 is Here!

Over the past decade, there have been numerous conversations about the “livable city,” the “green city,” the “sustainable city” and, most recently, the “resilient city.” At the same time, today’s headlines—from Ferguson to Baltimore, Paris to Johannesburg—resound with the need for frank dialogue about the structures and processes that affect the quality of life and livelihoods of urban residents. Issues of equity, inclusion, race, participation, access and ownership remain unresolved in many communities around the world, even as we begin to address the challenges of affordability, climate change adaptation and resilience. The persistence of injustice in the world’s cities—dramatic inequality, unequal environmental burdens and risks, and uneven access to opportunity—demands a continued and reinvigorated search for ideas and solutions.
Our organizations, The J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York, The Nature of Cities, and Next City, have built our respective missions around creating and disseminating knowledge, reporting and analysis of the contemporary city. All three organizations offer platforms for thought leaders and grassroots activists who are working to identify both aspirational and practical strategies for building livable, sustainable, resilient and just cities. Our shared values, together with generous support from the Ford Foundation and Municipal Art Society of New York City, brought us together to produce the first e-book volume of The Just City Essays.

The outreach to our invited 24 authors began with two straightforward questions: what would a just city look like, and what could be strategies to get there? We raised these questions to architects, mayors, artists, doctors, designers, scholars, philanthropists, ecologists, urban planners, and community activists. Their responses came to us from 22 cities across five continents and myriad vantages. Each offers a distinct perspective rooted in a particular place or practice. Each is meant as a provocation—a call to action. You will notice common threads as well as notes of dissonance. Just like any urban fabric, heterogeneity reigns.
Remember, this project began with questions, not answers. We hope this collection will inspire, and also be read as an invitation to imagine a city where urban justice may still be still unrealized, yet is urgently desired in the dreams of so many. The dialogue is only beginning, and much work remains to be done in cities across the world.  Download the e-book at

How Inclusive is the Architecture Profession?

Since starting the J. Max Bond Center, we have been interested in the ways people of diverse ethnic backgrounds have contributed to the field of architecture.  As a practitioner and academic, Max Bond was keenly aware of the minority position he held within the field, and worked to break barriers for himself and others.  At the time of Bond’s passing in 2009, he remained one of the few design partners of color in a major architectural firm and the number of African Americans and Hispanics in the profession generally has not grown much in over 20 years.
In October 2015, JMBC published the report, Inclusion in Architecture, what we believe to be one of the first comprehensive compilations of data recording the state of African Americans and Hispanics practicing in the profession, as well as faculty and students in the academy.  What we found was both eye opening and disappointing.  Here’s just a snapshot of what we discovered: 
  • Of the 105,847 licensed architects in the US in 2012, only 1,694 (1.6%) were African American and 8,362 (7.9%) were Hispanic
  • Only six states have over 100 licensed African American Architects
  • There are 230 architecture programs in the US including 7 Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs)
  • Of the 44,144 students enrolled in architecture schools in 2012, only 2,626 (5.9%) were African American and 6,644 (15.1%) were Hispanic
  • Nearly 50% of all students graduating from architecture programs graduate from one of 7 HBCUs
  • Of the 6,064 architecture faculty in the US in 2012, only 154 were African American and 463 were Hispanic
Another objective for compiling this data was to understand what barriers might be preventing youth of color from considering and pursuing architecture as a career.  Through this investigate we uncovered the following:
  • It can take a minimum of 11 years to become a licensed architecture from undergraduate school to intern development to registration examination
  • The costs for an individual to become a licensed architect, including education and professional development costs, can range from $40,731-$232,436
  • Standardize test scores of admitted HBCU students were three-times lower than a sample of New York State architecture program admitted students
  • In-state college tuition range from $7,757 - $9,137, with out-of-state public schools being 2.7 times higher and private school being 3.9-5.2 times higher

While the data does not paint a positive representation of the inclusion of people of color in the profession, our main objective is to examine how we might break down some of the barriers and perceptions about the profession, and begin to more actively encourage greater diversity among practitioners, academics and students.  Stay tuned as we report on the next phase of this work where we have begun to engage middle and high school students around New York City in interactive exercises designed to both expose youth to the profession as well as understand what they know about the field, how they’ve been exposed to the field, and what factors are contributing to encouraging or discouraging them from pursuing architecture as a career.
A full copy of the report of findings will be available online December 15, 2015 at


Measuring Design’s Impact on Urban Justice and Public Life

Would we desire spaces more if we put the values of equality, inclusion or equity at the center of our design work?  If a city or community articulated what it stood for, what it believed in, what it aspired to be - as a city; as a neighborhood - would it have a better chance of creating and sustaining as a healthy, vibrant place with more positive economic, health and social outcomes?
In 2012, as part of JMBC’s Design for the Just City initiative, we began an effort to develop an indicator tool that allows communities to use values as a means to evaluate how design contributes to just or unjust urban environments.  Over the past three years, through crowd-source engagement efforts and four semesters of graduate level seminar courses, JMBC has gathered over fifty possible values for the Just City.  
In 2014, in partnership with Gehl Architects, we were awarded grant funding from the Summit and Surdna foundations to test our just city values, indicators and metrics by evaluating New York City’s public plazas.    Gehl Architects, the renown design firm best known for its philosophy of integrating the factors that promote positive public life into the design of public spaces, was instrumental in working with NYCDOT to create the New York City Public Plaza Program

Gehl’s work with NYCDOT resulted in the original World Class Streets 1.0 document and outlined findings from Gehl’s public space-public life (PSPL) survey in detail, using the data to prioritize problem areas and develop solutions. Our collaboration on World Class Streets, 2.0 combines the PSPL methodology with JMBC just city indicators and metrics for measuring design’s impact on the urban justice using the values of equity, choice, access, connectivity, diversity, ownership inclusion, participation, beauty, creative innovation and health and wellness.  We evaluated seven plazas in total, two in Manhattan, three in Brooklyn and two in Queens.  Here’s are a few headlines summarizing what we found:
  1. Equitable investment beginnings, but challenges long term
  2. People choose to visit the plazas and find a mix of different activities to engage in
  3. Plazas as accessible, open and inviting retreats in the City
  4. Plazas are better physical connectors than social connectors
  5. Different people and designs across plaza, but plaza users are not that diverse
  6. Plazas have a shared value and worth among users
  7. Good plaza use seven days a week
  8. Many feel safe and a sense of inclusion
  9. Plazas are considered attractive places in the city
  10. Designed as a temporary intervention, but have long term impacts
  11. Spaces for outdoor activity options, but users not healthy
A full copy of the report of findings will be available online December 15, 2015 at

Staff Spotlight

JMBC Scholar
Damon Arrington (2015)
M.L.A. 2016

The J. Max Bond Annual Scholarship is awarded to an exceptional student enrolled in the CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture and dedicated to advance the Bond Center’s programs through scholarly research, publication, and/or public engagement.
This year’s JMBC scholar, Damon Arrington, a 2016 Masters of Landscape Architecture candidate will be working with JMBC leadership to advance survey and youth engagement efforts in JMBC’s “Inclusion in Architecture” Initiative.

Staff Spotlight

JMBC Senior Fellow
Quilian Riano (2015)


JMBC appoints Quilian Riano as its first J. Max Bond Senior Fellow for the 2015 Fall semester. 

The Fellowship is awarded to a professional with 5-10 years of practice and/or academic experience in the fields of architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, sustainability, urban studies and/or urban planning.  The Fellow is selected based on his or her professional track record for successfully addressing social and spatial justice issues as an integral part of their design practice, research or academic pedagogy.  

This year, Quilian Riano will work with JMBC leadership in the development of JMBC's Design for the Just City Initiative. 



The JMBC talks promotes the exchange of ideas and opinions between  faculty, professionals, 
and students. The Talks are organized through a collaboration between SSA faculty, JMBC staff and student organization's including: AIAS, GAC, ASLA and Informality.

The theme of this semester's talk was Designing Differently, and explored how small interventions can influence greater community change, challenged the role of the architect's ego, and exposed the environmental challenges in urban cities.

Copyright © 2015 J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, All rights reserved.

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