The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has announced Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) Urban Design and Planning Partner Philip J. Enquist, FAIA, as the recipient of the inaugural SAH Award for Excellence in Design, Planning and Sustainability. The recognition honors Enquist’s leadership on the Vision for the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River Region, a pro-bono initiative that sets forth a 100-year vision for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin is one of 263 watersheds that spans national boundaries and Enquist believes that planning must address the basin comprehensively.
“It’s humbling that the SAH is honoring us for this future-oriented project,” Enquist says. “We have a responsibility to be stewards of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin, which represents 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water. We must design our cities and region to eliminate waste, relying on innovative and sustainable strategies. We can and must ensure fresh water for all future generations.”
The Great Lakes currently face pollution threats from coal-fired power plants and nutrient and pesticide runoffs from agriculture that disrupt ecological function. Cities cause further damage to water quality with combined sewer outflows and pharmaceutical wastes. Many Great Lakes cities, both American and Canadian, are depleting groundwater resources. In addition, the region is dependent on fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.
Despite these threats, Enquist believes that the strategies in the Vision for the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River Region can create prosperity with environmental stewardship. The project defines strategic principles that support broad-based, bi-national dialogue about how to strengthen the region. It outlines strategies for cities, mobility and clean energy and proposes the first “international park” to celebrate the vast but vulnerable watershed.
The Vision for the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River Region Century has effectively focused attention on the opportunities and challenges associated with the future of the Great Lakes. SOM has engaged scientists, politicians, environmentalists, businesses, and public policy advocates from over 35 organizations and presented the vision in over 20 speaking engagements. The idea was unanimously approved by the 74 mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
“The SAH mission of making man-made structures and landscapes relevant to contemporary cultural life is increasingly important,” SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga says. “Our inaugural SAH Awards for Excellence celebrate pivotal contributions to design made in the fields of architecture, media, urban planning, and preservation. We are delighted to honor Phil Enquist for this innovative design work.”
Philip J. Enquist, FAIA, will be presented the award at the SAH Awards Gala in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2012.
For more on this important initiative, read our previous coverage:
- SOM announces Urgent “Call to Vision” for the Great Lakes
- Vision for the Great Lakes at TEDxTalks by Philip Enquist of SOM
News via SOM