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Gehry vs LEED

Note: The original title for article was “Gehry vs Sustainability” and it was changed to “Gehry vs LEED” on May 22nd for accuracy.

Frank Gehry can usually spice things up.  And, his recent comments about sustainability prove that the 81 year old starchitect still remains as provocative and shocking as he always was.  In an interview with Blair Kamin from the Chicago Tribune, Gehry basically dismissed LEED and its efforts to make our built environment more eco-friendly.  While his opposition may be targeted predominately toward LEED’s point system, rather than the overall green movement, his comments, like usual, stirred up some controversy.

Check out the interview and some responses after the break.

In the Tribune, Gehry was quoted as saying:

“I think the issue is finally a political one,” Gehry said. Referring to the LEED (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for buildings, which awards points for energy-saving features but has been criticized because some of these features (like bike racks) are superficial add-ons, Gehry said: “A lot of LEED is given for bogus stuff.” The costs of making a green building are “enormous,” he said, and “they don’t pay back in your lifetime.”

Editor of Metropolis, Susan S. Szenasy, fired back with her letter, “You are so wrong, Frank Gehry”.  She feels that architects should take responsibility for doing something about climate change:

“With buildings known to produce more than half of the world’s carbon output, surely those who design and build them have to shoulder some responsibility. But not, apparently, Gehry. He cavalierly called out LEED ratings (and thus the many efforts made every day by architects and designers to make our world less toxic, use available energy and water more carefully, pay mind to the site and its proximity to public transit, etc. ) as “political” and “bogus.” This is unfortunate for everyone concerned, and everyone must be concerned. But I’m not surprised, though I am saddened no end.

“…How would the world look and feel if the stars of architecture decided to stand up for the good of humanity? What if, I kept asking, they admitted that great architecture could also be kind to people and the environment? Would such an act of involvement diminish their star status? I don’t think so.”

Hopefully, Gehry understands the importance of our environmentally conscious decisions and he is purely criticizing the LEED point system.  It would be a shame for, arguably, one of the most well known architects not to see the benefit of the green frenzy that is taking control.  And yet, interestingly enough, Gehry’s controversial statements did do something positive, as the scores of people reacting against his comments prove the strength and support of the green movement has attained these past few years.

Sources:  Lloyd Alter Treehugger

Cite:Karen Cilento. "Gehry vs LEED" 21 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/61209/gehry-vs-sustainability/>