A Letter From Jacob R. Moore

The League's new executive director Jacob R. Moore reflects on the institution's past, present, and future.

Jacob R. Moore addresses the room at First Friday hosted Marvel in Tribeca. September 8, 2023. Photo courtesy Marvel Architects

Dear League community,

It’s an honor to be writing to you from the desk of the executive director here at The Architectural League of New York. This past week—my first in the role—has been filled with many warm welcomes and inspiring conversations, which have thoroughly energized me for the months and years to come. I couldn’t be more grateful. Nor could I be more excited to celebrate with you all at our upcoming Beaux Arts Ball!

Driven by our dedicated board and staff, and building on the incredible leadership of the previous executive director Rosalie Genevro, the work of the League is more important now than it has ever been. When it was founded in 1881 by a group of young architects committed to supporting one another and their community of professional peers, the Gilded Age was in full swing. The context for their creative and intellectual pursuits was a roaring, fossil-fueled economy with extreme stratification by race, gender, and class. Representative politics were strained, as more and more power was accumulated in fewer and fewer hands. Today, echoes from that era are uncomfortably loud. Even with more resources and attention dedicated to it than ever before, climate change proceeds at breakneck speed. Worker power is at once diminished and reawakened, putting pressure on insufficiently representative democratic systems from both the left and the right. Calls for justice from marginalized communities increase in direct proportion to the violence perpetrated against them.

Importantly, the League has changed dramatically since those early, gilded days. Rather than foregrounding a narrow definition of architecture at the expense of all else, we seek to emphasize all of the disciplines that undergird the imagining, making, and management of the built environment. No longer a high society boys club, we endeavor to involve and support practitioners with a wide variety of life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. And instead of focusing primarily on built work alone, we aim to better understand those works’ processes, impacts, and lessons. These transformations, however, are far from complete, and they require renewed commitment.

A locally situated, internationally oriented organization like the League must constantly strive to remain rooted, porous, and accessible to the communities it serves. The elitism of architecture and its allied fields is pernicious, and it has enduring effects. Changing this reality, and the built world with it, requires diverse, politically engaged coalitions committed to this cause.

In the coming months, we will be redoubling our commitment to developing, hosting, and collaborating on programs and initiatives with these goals in mind. If you’re able to support these efforts financially, please join us for our Beaux Arts Ball—an amazing opportunity (tickets are going fast!) to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, experience an awe-inspiring space with a custom installation by CO Adaptive, and to dance!

Beyond the Ball, other opportunities for connection include membership, attending one of our many public events, receiving our weekly newsletter and special announcements, immersing yourself in recent writing on Urban Omnibus, or simply reaching out. Ultimately, in these collective efforts for a more just, sustainable, and beautiful built world, it’s your involvement, ideas, and energy, in whatever forms they may take, that we seek to draw out and support. A sea change is underway; we hope to experience and shape it together.

Finally, personally, I want to emphasize how much I’m looking forward to meeting each of you as our work ahead unfolds. I’m so happy to be here, with you.

Jacob R. Moore
Executive Director