Members of Chicago's architecture community registered their displeasure after the city chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced that longtime Executive Vice President Zurich Esposito would no longer be in the role. Chapter officials have not publicly disclosed the reason for Esposito's departure.
Esposito, who is gay, did much to raise the profile of LGBTQ members in recent years. He spearheaded the launch of AIA Chicago's LGBTQ architects' group in early 2019, among several other notable achievements for the organization.
A Change.org petition, instigated by architect Mark Schmiedling, is calling for Esposito's reinstatement and had 483 signatures as of Aug. 30. Architects Jim Goettsch, Carol Ross Barney and John Vinci were among the initial signatories.
"Since Zurich's installment nearly fifteen years ago, he has worked diligently to transform the AIA Chicago chapter into one of the most reputable and active chapters in the country," the petitioners wrote. "His unique ideas pushed the chapter forward by creating more programs, forming diverse and expansive interest groups, and producing top rated materials, like the highly regarded Chicago Architect magazine.
"The chapter events have grown to become 'must-attend' by members as well as the design community at large. Design Night has doubled in size. Zurich is like our statesman, building bridges with various government agencies and civic groups and dramatically raising the organization's visibility and stature."
In 2015, Esposito, who is not an architect but has long been an architecture buff, told Windy City Times that he was living his childhood dream in the role.
"Chicago is the epicenter of architecture, [so] my job is always changing and always fresh," he said. "Before graduate school, I worked in a more conservative business and financial environment. After learning a lot and saving some money, I traded it all in for something I liked better."