Why Green Architecture Hardly Ever Deserves the Name

00:00 - 3 July, 2013
7 World Trade Center / SOM. Image © Ruggero Vanni.
7 World Trade Center / SOM. Image © Ruggero Vanni.

The following article, by Michael Mehaffy & Nikos Salingaros, originally appeared in Metropolis Mag as "Why Green Often Isn't"

Something surprising has happened with many so-called “sustainable” buildings. When actually measured in post-occupancy assessments, they’ve proven far less sustainable than their proponents have claimed. In some cases they’ve actually performed worse than much older buildings, with no such claims. A 2009 New York Times article, “Some buildings not living up to green label,” documented the extensive problems with many sustainability icons. Among other reasons for this failing, the Times pointed to the widespread use of expansive curtain-wall glass assemblies and large, “deep-plan” designs that put most usable space far from exterior walls, forcing greater reliance on artificial light and ventilation systems.

Partly in response to the bad press, the City of New York instituted a new law requiring disclosure of actual performance for many buildings. That led to reports of even more poor-performing sustainability icons. Another Times article, “City’s Law Tracking Energy Use Yields Some Surprises,” noted that the gleaming new 7 World Trade Center, LEED Gold-certified, scored just 74 on the Energy Star rating — one point below the minimum 75 for “high-efficiency buildings” under the national rating system. That modest rating doesn’t even factor in the significant embodied energy in the new materials of 7 World Trade Center. 

What's going on with these supposedly "sustainable" buildings? Read on, after the break...

Bar Oval / FLEXOARQUITECTURA

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© José Hevia
© José Hevia

© José Hevia © José Hevia © José Hevia © José Hevia +12

AD Interviews: LOT-EK

01:00 - 3 July, 2013

Not long ago we sat down with Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK—a New York City- and Naples-based architectural design studio. Known for their work with shipping containers, they discuss the learning curve they have endured by using objects that fall outside of the typical materials specified in manuals. LOT-EK also explains that they have been influenced by the freedom exercised in contemporary art. In their attempt to look at the world through “different eyes,” they find that networking is indispensable since it “makes what [they] do relevant” and opens them up to new opportunities.

Re-born House / DL Design/TL Architects & Associates

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO
Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO
  • Architects

  • Location

    Taipei, Taiwan
  • Architect in Charge

    Dolly Lin
  • Design Team

    Dolly Lin, Fidi Feng, Jimmy Chen, Rock Chiu, Aki Tang, Chloe Chen, Stephen Strugala
  • Area

    750.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO

Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO Courtesy of DL Design/TL Architects & Associates/HY KO +28

Captain Melville / Breathe Architecture

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Andrew Wuttke
© Andrew Wuttke

© Andrew Wuttke © Andrew Wuttke © Andrew Wuttke © Andrew Wuttke +14

Kaluga’s Sports and Youth Palace Winning Proposal / el fabricante de espheras + Espai MGR + A&G Proyectos y Desarrollos

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
Courtesy of el fabricante de espheras + Espai MGR + A&G Proyectos y Desarrollos
Courtesy of el fabricante de espheras + Espai MGR + A&G Proyectos y Desarrollos

The Spanish architecture team, formed by el fabricante de espheras + Espai MGR + A&G Proyectos y Desarrollos, just won the first prize in the Ideas Competition for the new Kaluga’s Sports and Youth Palace in Russia. The project consists of a sports infrastructure, commercial galleries and hotel rooms designed to be based on innovation and high technology architecture. This winning concept is explained as a flower that protects from the cold of the city of Kaluga and contains a set of spaces for sport, leisure, tourism and relax. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Three Firms Shortlisted to Design Prentice Successor

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections
© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections

Shortly after confirming the demise of Bertrand Goldberg’s beloved Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, Northwestern has released a shortlist of three firms competing to design the school’s new biomedical research facility. This comes with the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and despite strong backlash from architects and preservationists worldwide.

The finalists are: 

Plugged / Moscato Schere Todo Terreno + MS + DPF UNLa

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Manuel Ciarlotti
© Manuel Ciarlotti
  • Architects

  • Location

    Universidad Nacional de Lanus, B1826GLC Lanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Architect in Charge

    Agustin Moscato, Ramiro Schere
  • Area

    1000.0 m2
  • Year

    2013
  • Photographs

    Manuel Ciarlotti

© Manuel Ciarlotti © Manuel Ciarlotti © Manuel Ciarlotti © Manuel Ciarlotti +19

Mokumoku Kindergarten / 16A Inc.

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Masaya Yoshimura
© Masaya Yoshimura

© Masaya Yoshimura © Masaya Yoshimura © Masaya Yoshimura © Masaya Yoshimura +23

Aimé Césaire Media Library / G+ Architectes

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri
© Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri
  • Architects

  • Location

    58 Rue des Jonquilles, 63112 Blanzat, France
  • Principal Architect

    Paul Gresham
  • Associate Architect

    Stéphane Barbotin
  • Project Architect

    Michaël Neri
  • Area

    1400.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

    Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri

© Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri © Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri © Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri © Christophe Camus & Paul Gresham & Michaël Neri +40

Administrative Office Building of South University Of Science And Technology Of China / Zhubo Design Zstudio

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio
Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio
  • Architects

  • Location

    Guandong Province, China
  • Architect in Charge

    Li Jing
  • Design Team

    ZhongQiao
  • Area

    6500.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio

Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio Courtesy of Zhubo Design Zstudio +44

Seguin / Agence Bernard Bühler

00:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Vincent Monthiers
© Vincent Monthiers

© Vincent Monthiers © Vincent Monthiers © Vincent Monthiers © Vincent Monthiers +28

House in Isfahan / Logical Process in Architectural Design Office

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© F. Nasrabadi
© F. Nasrabadi
  • Architects

    Logical Process in Architectural Design Office
  • Location

    Isfahan City, iran
  • Architect in Charge

    Ehsan Hosseini, Elham Geramizadeh
  • Design Team

    Amirali Poorkian
  • Contractor

    Mehdi Hasan Nezhad
  • Area

    640.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

    F. Nasrabadi

© F. Nasrabadi © F. Nasrabadi © F. Nasrabadi © F. Nasrabadi +20

Music City Center / tvsdesign

01:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Brian Gassel
© Brian Gassel
  • Architects

  • Location

    201 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
  • Associated Architects

    Tuck-Hinton Architects, Moody-Nolan
  • Client

    Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
  • Area

    1200000.0 ft2
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

    Brian Gassel

© Brian Gassel © Brian Gassel © Brian Gassel © Brian Gassel +19

SO? Celebrates the Opening of 'Sky Spotting Stop' in Istanbul

00:00 - 3 July, 2013
© Muhsin Akgün; Courtesy of Istanbul Modern
© Muhsin Akgün; Courtesy of Istanbul Modern

Though temporarily postponed due to the Gezi Park protests, SO? Architecture and Ideas has celebrated the opening of their winning entry - Sky Spotting Stop - for the 2013 Young Architects Program (YAP) at Istanbul Modern in Turkey. Offering refuge from the historic city’s busy streets, the fragmented canopy of reflective circular discs invites visitors to “sit, rest, gather, play, or skyspot” while overlooking the mouth of the Bosphorus. 

Caneças High School / ARX

01:00 - 2 July, 2013
© FG+SG - Fernando Guerra
© FG+SG - Fernando Guerra
  • Architects

  • Location

    Caneças, Portugal
  • Principals in Charge

    Nuno Mateus and José Mateus
  • Work Team

    Ricardo Guerreiro, Fábio Cortês, Ana Fontes, João Dantas, Sofia Raposo, Mariana Sá, Emanuel Rebelo, Diana Afonso, Miguel Torres, Filipe Cardoso, Bruno Martins, Marc Anguill, Gaia Pelizzari, Rodrigo Henriques
  • Area

    11600.0 sqm
  • Photographs

    FG+SG - Fernando Guerra

© FG+SG - Fernando Guerra © FG+SG - Fernando Guerra © FG+SG - Fernando Guerra © FG+SG - Fernando Guerra +36

South Molton Street Building / DSDHA

01:00 - 2 July, 2013
Courtesy of DSDHA
Courtesy of DSDHA
  • Architects

  • Location

    75 Davies Street, London W1K 5JN, UK
  • Area

    1227.5 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of DSDHA, Courtesy of Bosideng, Dennis Gilbert

Courtesy of Bosideng © Dennis Gilbert © Dennis Gilbert © Dennis Gilbert +19

The Prince: Bjarke Ingels's Social Conspiracy

00:00 - 2 July, 2013
© DAC / Jakob Galtt
© DAC / Jakob Galtt

A version of this essay was originally published in Thresholds 40: “Socio-” (2012)

Few architects working today attract as much public acclaim and disciplinary head-scratching as Bjarke Ingels. Having recently arrived in New York, this self-proclaimed futurist is undertaking his own form of Manifest Destiny, reminding American architects how to act in their own country.

While his practice is often branded by the architectural establishment as naïve and opportunistic, such criticism is too quick to conflate Ingels’s outwardly optimistic persona with the brash formal agenda it enables. In the current economic climate, there are any number of gifted purveyors of form languishing in New York City. Despite this, Ingels has somehow managed to get away with proposing a pyramidal perimeter block in midtown New York, a looped pier in St. Petersburg Florida, and an art center in Park City, Utah massed as torqued log cabin while maintaining a straight face. Why, then, is his mode of operation considered unsophisticated by so many within the discipline?

Clearly, Ingels has figured something out about harnessing and transforming “the social” that American architects would do well to identify. So, in the manner of any good conspiracy theorist in search for the hidden method, let’s go to the chalkboard, or rather, the diagram...

Part of the answer may lie with Ingels’s brand of populism, which is as much about being social as it is about the social.