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Open Letter to KSP Architects re_U.S. Embassy plan in Jerusalem

1 March 2023

Please add your signature by completing this form.

Open Letter to Architects Krueck Sexton Partners

Re: U.S. Embassy plan in Jerusalem
Plan 101-0810796 – “Diplomatic Compound – USA, Hebron Road, Jerusalem”


We, the undersigned, are writing this letter in regard to the proposed plan of the U.S. government to double down on Trump’s plan to build a new embassy compound in occupied Jerusalem. The proposed embassy is planned to be built on a plot of land – the “Allenby Barracks” – that was illegally confiscated from its original Palestinian owners. Concerned with the ethical implications of this project for the architecture profession, we are calling on the Chicago-based architecture firm Krueck Sexton Partners (KSP), and other companies complicit in this plan, to immediately withdraw from the Israeli planning process and stop their participation in and endorsement of Israel’s illegal seizures of Palestinian land in Jerusalem.

The Biden administration is following through on Trump’s egregious break with decades of U.S. policy by ordering the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and recognizing the city as Israel’s capital. The embassy plan is a violation of Jerusalem’s special corpus separatum status under international law – meaning that sovereignty over Jerusalem remains undetermined. It is also a violation of the United States’ obligations under the Vienna Convention, which states that any diplomatic mission established must be within the express territorial sovereignty of that state. Because of Jerusalem’s corpus separatum status, this constitutes a clear breach of the Convention and violates Palestinians’ right to self-determination. That the embassy is to be built on the particular site in question, land confiscated from Palestinians under Israel’s discriminatory Absentee Property Law, adds an additional layer of unlawfulness to the plan. As clarified in this letter sent by Adalah and the Center for Constitutional Rights in November 2022 to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, this plan is in “violation of international law, including Article 46 of the Hague Regulations. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have identified the Absentees’ Property Law as a foundational tool of Israel’s oppression and domination of Palestinians within a broader Apartheid system.” As designers, KSP Partners become not only complacent, but active participants in such violations.

The historical ownership of this land is well-documented; notably, through documents from the Israel State Archives, which confirm that most of the Allenby Barracks site is land that belongs to Palestinians forcibly displaced from their homes by the state of Israel in 1948. Several of the owners and their descendants are now U.S. citizens, to whom the U.S. owes additional obligations regarding the protection of their property. The U.S. Department of State has duties both under agency rules to protect the overseas property interests of its citizens and under the U.S. Constitution, whose Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause prohibits the extralegal governmental confiscation of such property. As project architects, Krueck Sexton Partners are complicit in the U.S. State Department’s participation in the violation of the property rights of its own citizens.

Architecture institutions and practices are undergoing a long overdue examination of the profession’s ethical responsibilities and accountability. More specifically, architects and planners at work in the U.S. today are grappling with the profession’s history and ongoing complicity with and benefit from systems of oppression, including Indigenous land expropriation. Krueck Sexton Partners aims to set itself apart within the landscape of architecture practice by “advocating for the future” and providing design outcomes capable of “improving cities and lives” and promoting “healthy, vibrant, and sustainable communities.” The firm claims a commitment to ethical labor practices, and “social innovation, equity, and dignity for all.”

The most recent American Institute of Architects (AIA)  “statement of our values” calls for “fair housing policies, civil rights protections, and accessibility to the built environment for all,” advocates for “policies that invest in well-designed civic infrastructure,” and works to “improve the built environment”. Architectural schools across the U.S. are in the process of transforming their pedagogy in order to address the profession’s role in systemic injustice and harm. KSP Partners Ronald A. Krueck and Mark P. Sexton are affiliated with academic and other institutions in the U.S., including the American Institute of Architects, the IIT College of Architecture in Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Sexton is Co-Chair of the IIT College of Architecture’s Board of Advisors, while Krueck is a recipient of the AIA Lifetime Achievement Award. We call on them to uphold the responsibilities that come with such affiliations and recognition, and consider the ethical implications of their practice, and the precedents they would be setting for generations to come.

Their participation in the plan for the US embassy in Jerusalem stands in direct opposition to above-mentioned values, and the values of leading architectural practitioners, scholars, and organizations in the U.S. and worldwide, as demonstrated by the list of signatories below. Ethics do not cease to be applicable across borders. Palestinians cannot inhabit, sustain livelihoods, nor plan for and improve their environment without access to their own lands due to illegal land confiscation. The plan for the US embassy project in Jerusalem is a clear ethical case that demands the refusal of architects to participate in the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

We call on Krueck Sexton Partners to immediately withdraw from the U.S. Embassy project in Jerusalem and refuse to be complicit in a project that will cause irreparable harm to Palestinian people and Palestinian rights.

Please add your signature by completing this form.

The signature list will be updated daily, please allow some time for your name to appear below.

Signatures (updated March 11, 11am EST)

  1. Jumanah Abbas, Qatar Museums
  2. Sarah Abdallah, Columbia University
  3. Ross Adams, Bard Architecture
  4. Emanuel Admassu. AD—WO / Columbia University
  5. Menna Agha, Carleton University
  6. Zena Agha, Non-Resident Scholar, Middle East Institute, Washington DC
  7. Rahel Aima, Independent Critic
  8. Nora Akawi, The Cooper Union
  9. Esra Akcan, Cornell University
  10. Iyad Aljabi
  11. Maria Aljabi, Physician
  12. Noora Aljabi
  13. Malak Al-Faraj, Urban Designer
  14. Hanouf AlFehaid, Columbia University
  15. Farah Alkhoury, Columbia University
  16. Sean Anderson, Cornell University
  17. Dulce Arambula, Architect
  18. Marian Arwa Al-Hachami, American University of Sharjah
  19. Alia Al-Sabi, New York University
  20. Liane Al Ghusain, New York University Abu Dhabi
  21. Laura Albast, Institute for Palestine Studies USA
  22. Syed Abrar Ali, ISE
  23. Hicham Awad, The Cooper Union
  24. Reem Awad, PhD Student – Carleton University School of Architecture and Urbanism
  25. Nick Axel, e-flux Architecture / Gerrit Rietveld Academie
  26. Tizziana Baldenebro, SPACES
  27. Merve Bedir, Hong Kong University
  28. Bahar Behbahani, City University New York
  29. Omar Berrada, writer
  30. Virginia Black, Columbia University
  31. Caitlin Blanchfield, Columbia University
  32. Hiba Bou Akar, Columbia University
  33. Brian Boyd, Co-Director, Center for Palestine Studies
  34. Tei Carpenter, Agency Agency
  35. Jordan H. Carver, Yale School of Architecture
  36. Toby Chai, University of the Arts London
  37. Xiaoxi Chen, Columbia University
  38. Esther Choi
  39. Alex Clark, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University
  40. Madelynne Clark, PORT
  41. Mariana Costa Lima, Central Saint Martins
  42. Jeff Dardozzi, Living Structure LSO
  43. Ivi Diamantopoulou, New Affiliates
  44. Nicolay Duque-Robayo, Columbia University
  45. Keller Easterling, Yale School of Architecture
  46. Hayley Eber, The Cooper Union
  47. Zvi Efrat, Efrat-Kowalsky Architects / Bezalel Academy of Art and Design
  48. Kristina Eldrenkamp
  49. Rima Ezzeddine, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture, Paris-Malaquais
  50. Nadine Fattaleh, NYU, PhD student
  51. Leslie Forehand, Long Beach City College
  52. Nathalie Frankowski, WAI Think Tank  / Iowa State University
  53. David Gissen, The New School
  54. Cruz Garcia, WAI Think Tank / Iowa State University
  55. Jenan Ghazal, University of Toronto
  56. Aaron Goldstein, Registered Architect
  57. Michael Gordon, AWH Architects
  58. Charlotte Grace, Royal College of Art
  59. James Graham, California College of the Arts
  60. Hassan Hamed, CMH
  61. Isabella Hammad, Writer
  62. Mina Hanna
  63. Calvin Harrison, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  64. Tarek Hassan, Foster + Partners
  65. Sarah Hejazin, Columbia University
  66. Kayli Hendricks
  67. Samia Henni, Cornell University
  68. Miriam Hillawi Abraham
  69. Jeffrey Hogrefe, Pratt Institute
  70. Anne Holtrop, Studio Anne Holtrop
  71. Elise Misao Hunchuck, Columbia University
  72. Bogdan Ionescu, Architect
  73. Elisa Iturbe, The Cooper Union
  74. Julius Jääskeläinen, Ark Brut, Finland
  75. Emily Joseph, Parsons / The New School
  76. Lydia Kallipoliti, The Cooper Union
  77. Ali Kamal, Columbia University
  78. Frederick Kannemeyer, Architect
  79. Rana Kashlan
  80. Emily Kellogg, PORT
  81. Isabelle Kirkham-Lewitt, Columbia Books on Architecture and the City
  82. Jaffer Abbas Kolb, New Affiliates / Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  83. Lindsey Krug, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  84. Adrian Lahoud, Royal College of Art
  85. Léopold Lambert, The Funambulist
  86. Dr Ruth Lang, Senior lecturer, Royal College of Art, London
  87. Emily Licht, Architect
  88. Alma Lope
  89. Marcelo López-Dinardi, Texas A&M University
  90. Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Cornell University
  91. Deon Lucas, Beehyyve
  92. Elsa MH Mäki, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  93. Khaled Malas, Sigil / New York University
  94. Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Assistant Professor, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)
  95. Elis Mendoza, Princeton University
  96. Andrew Economos Miller, Kent State University
  97. Jennifer Minner, Cornell University
  98. Terrence Mkhwanazi, Architect
  99. Samaneh Moafi, Forensic Architecture
  100. Jacob R. Moore, The Avery Review
  101. Thomas Modeen, Architects Independent
  102. Michael Moynihan, Cornell University
  103. Naheed Murtaza,
  104. Mohamad Nahleh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  105. Jennifer Newsom, Dream The Combine / Cornell Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)
  106. Korynn Newville, Triple N Construction
  107. Soo Ok Han
  108. Ana Ozaki, Princeton University
  109. Andrew Phyfer, Future Firm
  110. Maria Pillet
  111. Gabrielle Printz, Yale School of Architecture
  112. Walid Raad, The Cooper Union
  113. Eduardo Rega Calvo, University of Pennsylvania
  114. Pedro Rivera, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  115. Kyara Robinson, Princeton School of Architecture
  116. Miguel Robles-Duran, The New School
  117. Mireille Roddier, University of Michigan
  118. Rebecca Rodrigo
  119. Anders Rubing, University of Bergen & Bergen School of Architecture
  120. Mahdi Sabbagh, Columbia University
  121. Ozayr Saloojee, Carleton University School of Architecture and Urbanism
  122. Zoé Samudzi, Rhode Island School of Design
  123. Ivonne Santoyo Orozco, Bard Architecture
  124. Yara Saqfalhait, Columbia University
  125. Francesca Savoldi, Technical University Delft
  126. Akil Scafe-Smith, RESOLVE Collective
  127. Maciek Schejbal, Afro-Polka Productions
  128. Felicity D. Scott, Columbia University
  129. Tamar Shafrir
  130. Seher Shah, Artist
  131. Sultan Sooud Q
  132. Scott Sorli, University of Waterloo
  133. Dima Srouji, Royal College of Art
  134. Aaron Stone, PORT
  135. Ian Svilokos, PIE
  136. Amjad Syam
  137. Bisher Tabbaa, Columbia University
  138. Yara Taha, Beehyyve
  139. Roisin Tapponi, University of St. Andrews
  140. Nader Tehrani, The Cooper Union
  141. Iba Tony, University of the Arts London
  142. Jacqueline Tran, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney
  143. Julia Udall, Sheffield Hallam University
  144. Melis Ugurlu, The Avery Review
  145. Sumayya Vally, Counterspace Studio
  146. Laura Vargas
  147. Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture
  148. Ines Weizman, Royal College of Art, London / Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna
  149. James Wheeler, Public Design Exchange
  150. Jen Wood, AD—WO
  151. Michael Young, The Cooper Union
  152. Margarida Waco, Royal College of Art / The Funambulist
  153. Wolff Architects, Cape Town
  154. Bz Zhang
  155. Rula Zuhour, PORT