Hines College Students Organizations You Should Know: The Architecture Lobby at UH

Advocating for students and preparing them for the profession while championing equity and fairness

by Lyric Iglehart and Nicholas Nguyen • December 6, 2023

After taking a break for the 2022-2023 school year, The Architecture Lobby at UH (TAL@UH) is back at full throttle. The student organization reformed in time for Welcome Day to introduce themselves to the incoming class and have planned events every month to advance their goals and set new ones as a chapter.

While TAL@UH offers social events throughout the fall semester, its primary focus is helping students prepare for careers through interview workshops, learning about firm culture, and how to apply for internships. In addition to these events, the Lobby has also hosted several sessions with faculty, former faculty, and industry professionals allowing students an opportunity to candidly discuss the profession and education. One principle TAL@UH values is transparency, reducing barriers students and graduates face as they navigate their careers.

The group aims to follow the initiatives of The Architecture Lobby national chapter while forging its own path addressing issues students and professionals in Houston face. Here, we spoke with the officers of TAL@UH to understand their goals. Meet the team behind TAL@UH and learn how to join or support the organization.

above: TAL@UH welcoming new students on welcome day; members unwound and connected during halloween social activities this semester

Can you explain the primary goals and mission of The Architecture Lobby at UH and how it advocates for just labor practices in the field of architecture?
Litzy Garcia, President: The Architecture Lobby at UH is an organization dedicated to addressing issues of labor and their sociopolitical intersections at all scales. Within the Hines College, TAL@UH promotes labor-centered initiatives to reform the academic and professional culture of architecture for a new generation of students. We aim to fill gaps in our curriculum and foster critical reflection within our community, both as an educational institution and a discipline.

In Houston, TAL@UH strives to highlight the broad potential influence and responsibility of architecture. We also act as a bridge between students of architecture at UH and labor-related issues in the city at large. On a global scale, we will connect with TAL chapters in other cities and contribute to TAL’s national and international campaigns. As members transition to alumni, we actively work towards establishing a Houston TAL chapter. This chapter enhances the impact of our global-scale efforts, making them more robust and impactful over time.

What initiatives or projects has The Architecture Lobby been involved in to promote equitable environments and labor practices within the architectural profession?

LG: TAL is an organization advocating for equitable and ethical labor practices within the architectural profession. They are committed to addressing issues such as fair wages, diversity, sustainability, and social responsibility within the field of architecture through working groups like:

  1. Green New Deal Working Group: The Architecture Lobby has been involved in discussions and actions related to the Green New Deal, aiming to address climate change, social and economic inequality, and other related issues. Their focus is on the role of architecture in supporting these goals.
  2. Housing Working Group: This group focuses on issues related to affordable housing, gentrification, and the social responsibility of architects in addressing housing inequality. They seek to promote equitable housing solutions.
  3. #NotOurWall Campaign: This campaign aimed to raise awareness about the ethical implications of architects and designers participating in the design and construction of structures such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall. It encouraged architects to consider the social and political impact of their work.
  4. Cooperative Network Campaign: This campaign emphasizes the value of cooperatives and alternative business models within the architecture profession. It seeks to promote collaboration and more equitable working conditions for architects.
  5. Unionization Campaign: The Architecture Lobby has been involved in efforts to support the unionization of architectural professionals. They believe that unions can help protect the rights and interests of workers in the field.
  6. Academia Working Group: This group focuses on issues within architectural education, including the working conditions of educators, the cost of education, and the need for more inclusive and equitable curricula.

How does The Architecture Lobby work to address issues such as fair wages, diversity, and inclusion in architecture firms and educational institutions?

LG: TAL is a grassroots organization advocating for labor rights and social justice within the field of architecture. It seeks to address issues such as fair wages, diversity, and inclusion in both architecture firms and educational institutions through a variety of strategies, though it is important to note that specific initiatives may vary over time. TAL focuses on advocacy and awareness, educational initiatives, promoting paid labor and fair internships, advancing diversity and inclusion efforts, developing research surrounding data on labor practices and issues in the architecture profession, and providing opportunities for networking and collaboration.

It is crucial to recognize that The Architecture Lobby is not a single, centralized entity, and its initiatives may vary depending on local chapters or the current leadership's focus. However, the common thread is the advocacy for more equitable and just practices within the architecture profession, and its efforts extend to both educational institutions and architecture firms.

above: Meetings and events geared towards discussion about the profession and labor practices

What resources or tools does The Architecture Lobby provide to support architects in advocating for their labor rights and creating more equitable work environments?
LG: They offer various resources and tools to support architects in their advocacy efforts, including the ABC School (an online platform providing free educational resources and discussions for architects), publications and statements, advocacy and networking, workshops and events, and advocacy toolkit, information sharing related to labor rights and equitable work environments, and advocacy for unionization.

Can you share examples of successful advocacy efforts or campaigns led by TAL@UH to pursue just labor practices in architecture?
Amal Khalil, Secretary: Although TAL@UH just re-formed in the fall of 2023 and has not had the opportunity to lead advocacy campaigns, TAL on a national scale has many examples of successful efforts, including:

  • "Not My Intern" Campaign: The campaign is an initiative aimed at ending unpaid internships in the architectural profession.
  • "50-50 by 2020" Pledge: TAL encouraged architectural firms and organizations to take the "50-50 by 2020" pledge, committing firms to achieving gender equity and diversity in leadership positions by the year 2020.
  • Educational Initiatives: Educational initiatives, including workshops, conferences, and lectures, raise awareness about labor issues and promote a greater understanding of social justice within the architectural community, ultimately providing a platform for dialogue and learning.
  • Advocacy for Improved Workplace Conditions: TAL is actively involved in advocating for improved workplace conditions for architectural professionals, including fair wages, reasonable working hours, and adherence to labor laws.
  • Ethical Design and Environmental Responsibility: The organization advocates for ethical design practices and environmental responsibility within the field of architecture.

How does The Architecture Lobby engage with architectural firms, academic institutions, and government bodies to drive change and promote equitable environments?
GJ Hartsfield, Research Coordinator:
TAL continues opening dialogues with students, faculty, and firms, making it clear its advocacy extends beyond architectural labor to encompass all forms of labor. TAL@UH collaborates closely with other student organizations at the University of Houston to join forces in supporting the success of emerging professionals. To this end, we regularly advocate for and petition the introduction of more resources for students, better quality spaces, the importance of mental health, solidarity with all forms of human labor, practical education of students (internships, labor practices, etc.), and radical ideas for a better future.

above: members have a chance to gain insight from faculty, former faculty, and industry professionals at TAL@UH events

What role does TAL@UH see itself playing in shaping the future of the architectural profession in terms of labor practices and equity?
Angela Altamarino, Vice President:
TAL@UH sees itself as a tool and platform for others to learn, express, and advocate. We look forward to being part of architecture students' journeys through their majors, serving not only as a tool but also as a community for individuals to grow personally and professionally by consistently projecting ourselves with honesty and transparency about labor practices.

Are there specific challenges or obstacles that TAL@UH has encountered in its advocacy work, and how does it address them?
Evelyn Huerta, Publicist:
One of the biggest challenges we have faced is the realization that many students aspiring to enter the field of architecture are often unaware of what to expect. The architecture field itself lacks transparency concerning wages and working conditions. As an organization, we have made it our goal to educate and openly discuss the realities of working in the field without filters. Though some may perceive our efforts as deterring emerging architects from engaging in the field, our true intention is to ensure everyone possesses a more informed perspective when searching for and applying for jobs.

In what ways can individual architects and students get involved with The Architecture Lobby to support its mission and initiatives?
Diego Contreras, Social Coordinator:
Getting involved in TAL@UH is as easy as becoming a member. TAL@UH members enjoy a number of benefits:

  • Access to our discussion platforms and to the national TAL platform (, which members can use to connect with hundreds of other members, past and present, and keep up-to-date with events
  • A vote on resolutions and bylaw amendments
  • A direct stake in the actions, projects, and direction of the organization

Individual architects can also support our efforts and get involved by being part of our multiple professional lectures and events throughout the semester at the Hines College.

Follow The Architecture Lobby at UH on Instagram: @archlobbyuh


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