From Talking to Taking Action

Jensen Architects
Our recent experience working in the Chinatown and India Basin neighborhoods of San Francisco has heightened our commitment to designing for justice and equity in the built environment. Last fall, our studio undertook an initiative to expand our role in fostering more just processes and outcomes.

Each quarter at JENSEN, our team takes a deep dive into an important issue affecting our practice. Last fall, we delved into justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) and the potential of our work to contribute to a more just and equitable built environment. As a prompt, we turned to Justice in the Built Environment, a guide published by the American Institute of Architects. Our goal was to move beyond talking and identify specific actions we can take as an office. Here are the goals and actions we identified. 

  • Expand our impact through the work we take on: Formally incorporate social and environmental justice criteria into our evaluation of new project opportunities. 
  • Expand the impact of our work: Revise our approach to project visioning, planning and programming to engage all available expertise (professional and community-based knowledge), facilitate more fruitful conversations, and broaden our understanding of social and cultural contexts. 
  • Capture lessons learned: Elevate justice-related measures in our project close-out evaluations, and identify opportunities for improvement. 
  • Grow our knowledge: Provide ongoing education for our team to deepen our insights and improve our practices.
  • Hold ourselves accountable: Meet regularly to assess progress made, identify strategies for improvement, and update our goals.

By taking an incremental approach and starting with small yet tangible steps, our hope is to build the momentum needed to carry this long-horizon initiative forward. We’ll provide updates as our efforts unfold and, as always, welcome opportunities for knowledge-sharing and exchange.