Arch527, a group of African-American Harlem architects, claims that its members were shut out of Columbia University’s recent $6.3 billion campus expansion into West Harlem.
While members of the group have backgrounds that include working with world-famous architectural firms, as well as the highest certifications in the American Institute of Architects, they were offered only small projects such as moving a reception desk a few feet.
Columbia is expanding their current campus, as part of a project that’s expected to be completed in 2030. In order to get permission to build, the university promised 25 percent participation by minorities, women and local businesses in the project, as well as 35 percent of non-construction contracts going to minorities, women and locally owned companies.
Arch527 member Mark Barksdale does not feel the university is living up to their part of the agreement.
“This is a $6.3 billion project in our community, and we are not getting to participate,” the architect said.
“It’s like training for the theater and someone offers you a part in your daughter’s school play. It’s insulting work,” said another architect, Zevilla Jackson Preston, who was asked by the university to submit a bid to move a reception desk.
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