The controversy over the American Institute of Architects’ statement in support of Donald Trump continues. Scott Frank, the organization’s media relations director for over a decade, has resigned over the AIA’s “severe mishandling” of its post-election statement and subsequent apologies, as first reported by The Architect’s Newspaper. The AIA confirmed Frank’s departure to Co.Design.
This latest development comes after three weeks of open letters, statements, social media posts, and discussions around a statement the AIA released hours after the election results were announced on November 9. In the letter, AIA Executive Vice President and CEO Robert Ivy pledged to work alongside a Trump administration and support the president-elect’s plans to commit $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. Though the statement was on behalf of the professional organization’s 89,000 members, neither the members nor the AIA’s local chapters were consulted prior to its release.
The letter sparked a furious backlash from architects and architecture advocacy organizations frustrated with the AIA’s conciliatory tone and blanket statement of support for the president-elect. The AIA released two apologies for the original statement, one in a letter to the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper and another, three days later, in the form of a video. In the latter, Ivy called the original letter tone-deaf and claimed that it “did not reflect [the AIA’s] larger values.”
The editors at The Architect’s Newspaper broke the story on Frank’s resignation, writing that Frank had disagreed with the strategy of the organization. “The AIA reportedly ignored Frank’s advice and, in his view, demonstrated a total lack of accountability,” the newspaper reported.
While the AIA confirmed to Co.Design that Frank is no longer employed there, it declined to comment further. Frank has directed the press department at the national AIA since 2005. Architects have already begun responding to the news of his departure on Twitter:
The AIA apologies have done little to quash the vocal response from architects and local AIA chapters who claim the letter did not support the larger values and ideals of the architecture community. Though the controversy surrounding the AIA had largely died down over the last week, Frank’s resignation signals there is also tension within the national chapter over how the crisis was handled, and suggests that the effects of the AIA’s statements are still shaking out.