When someone passes, no matter how young or old, sick or well, I am always struck not only with the sadness of loss, but also the reflection of on how that person has impacted my life, and the life of others. As a young person, I remember watching Justice Ginsberg’s confirmation hearings on the news. I remember her speaking so delicately about how all people deserve equality of rights under the intent of our Constitution. The strength of her words seemed juxtaposed with the softness of her voice, and the depth of her heart.
At the Rathbern Lecture “On a Meaningful Life” in February of 2018, Justice Ginsberg said, “But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself, something to repair tears in your community, something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for one’s self but for one’s community.” I saw a lot of myself in Ruth Bader Ginsberg, as I think most women my age do. She was the proof that if you fought hard, you could do anything. I was a quiet girl who sat in the back of the room, studying hard trying to figure out how I could best pursue a career that would use my strengths to make the world a better place. I found my purpose in architecture. I loved the study of design. I found myself enjoying history for the first time, learning how buildings told the tales of what happened before. I enjoy working through all the pieces of the code and putting the puzzle together. Architecture was my profession of choice.
Architecture has the ability to structure change and growth. Schools that that allow all students, despite age, race, gender, ability, or income level, to safely learn and flourish to their best abilities. Courthouses that respect the sanctity of the law but also acknowledge that all occupants of a courthouse have experienced trauma and desire the human need for comfort. Public buildings that not only meet the code requirements but go above and beyond to let all people move without barriers. Office buildings that focus on employee well-being by providing access to high quality indoor air through ventilation system, and selection of materials that are not only harmless in their end product but also in their manufacturing, installation and maintenance.
By using thoughtful and creative approaches to design, building can become a tool in equality. Whether it is an office building, high rise, school, courthouse, power station, or dumpster enclosure the built environment can structure change, embrace nature and enhance the human experience. This is what USA’s “Powered by Purpose” means to me, this is why I am a proud to be an architect, and this is how I will continue to honor the memory of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Written by Marlene Borruso, Director of Sustainability and Wellness, USA Architects