Major Architects Group Will Stop Designing Death Chambers Amid Trump's Record-Breaking Executions

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) passed new ethics rules on Friday that will prohibit its members from knowingly designing spaces intended for execution, torture and definite or prolonged solitary confinement.

AIA's Board of Directors took the decision as part of the organization's "ongoing effort to meaningfully address structural racism in the built environment and to uphold our professional values."

The move comes following the much-publicized execution of convicted murderer Brandon Bernard on Thursday. Bernard was convicted as a teenager in 1999 and there were high profile calls for clemency in his case.

"We are committed to promoting the design of a more equitable and just built world that dismantles racial injustice and upholds human rights," AIA president Jane Frederick said in a statement.

"Specifically, AIA members are required to uphold the health, safety and welfare of the public.

"Spaces for execution, torture and prolonged solitary confinement contradict those values. This decision emphasizes AIA's commitment to making a difference on this issue and upholding human rights for our society."

The new rules are a break with AIA's longstanding rejection of calls to censure members who design cells for solitary confinement and executions, though there has been a concerted effort by some architects to see such rules adopted, according to the New York Times.

AIA's code of ethics states that violations can result in admonition, censure, suspension of membership and ultimately termination of membership following a complaint procedure.

Though AIA's statement does not make specific reference to Bernard, it comes as President Donald Trump's administration is set to break records for the number of executions during a president's tenure.

Convicted murderer Alfred Bourgeois was put to death on Friday despite his lawyers arguing he was intellectually disabled. He was convicted of murdering his two year old daughter in 2004.

Three further executions are scheduled before Trump is due to leave office on January 20, 2021 and if all three take place, it will bring the total number of executions during Trump's last year to 13. This will be the highest in more than a century.

The recent executions also violate a 130 year old precedent that sees death sentences held over during the lame duck period so the incoming president can weigh in.

Lisa Montgomery is due to be executed on January 12 for strangling a pregnant woman and then cutting out and kidnapping her baby in 2004. Her lawyers argue she is severely mentally ill. Montgomery will be the first woman put to death by the federal government since 1953. Two further executions are due on January 14 and 15.

Lethal Injection Facility in San Quentin, California
In this handout photo provided by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Quentin's lethal injection facility is shown before being dismantled at San Quentin State Prison on March 13, 2019 in San Quentin, California. The American Institute of Architects has introduced new rules against designing death chambers. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Getty Images