Right off the top, I want to give credit where credit is due: I got the idea for this column from one Mary Louise Schumacher, the wonderful art and architecture writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote on Friday about the lack of diversity in renderings for the new Lakefront Gateway Plaza.
It’s especially timely because of the release by the Milwaukee Bucks of the renderings of the interior of their new arena.
Renderings are very popular in the world of architecture. You see them all the time when organizations release the plans for what they are going to build. They normally include the structure, surrounded by green spaces and people.
Schumacher wrote, "'They (the renderings) are so photorealistic that they have enormous persuasive power in the culture at large,' said Dianne Harris, an architecture and urban design historian at the University of Utah. 'They look like a snapshot of what is as opposed to what might be.'"
The point of Schumacher’s article is that the renderings of the lakefront development are almost exclusively a rendering of white people enjoying the development. You can see those renderings here.
That story sent me to the renderings of the Bucks’ arena, where I saw that almost all the people in them were white. You can see those renderings here.
Now, neither the Bucks nor the City of Milwaukee can be blamed for creating these renderings, which were prepared by architects. But, both the Bucks and the City knew these were going to be released to the public.
I think the failure to notice that it was mostly white people who were having all this fun is an example that the language of diversity doesn’t always meet reality.
In August, the Bucks named Alicia Dupies, a white woman, to the position of Vice President of Community Relations. In the release announcing the move, the Bucks said that the "former Mortenson executive joins a talented and diverse Bucks management team."
That diversity the Bucks talk about is interesting.
In the media guide, they list and feature pictures of almost 150 people, ranging from the owners to dozens of sales associates. Eight of the people pictured are black. All the top-level executives are white. All their vice presidents are white, except for one. By any measure, that is not a diverse population.
This is not to fault the Bucks. There are few organizations that can match the commitment to diversity the Bucks have. They do as much or more with minority communities than anyone else I know.
"We are now going to go back to the architects and come back with a new rendering that better reflects our community," said Bucks spokesman Jake Suski after I brought this to his attention. "We have a real commitment to diversity from our ownership on down. Our attendance is about 50-50, and we want these renderings to reflect that."
Going back to fix this is an admirable move by the team, since it’s abundantly clear that nobody noticed this before the renderings were released to the public.
It would be good if every organization in Milwaukee that is going to release renderings paid attention not only to the buildings but also to the people they think are going to use those buildings.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.