Sometimes referred to as “the leading environmental architect of our time,” in his roles as architect, designer, author, educator and social leader, William McDonough (born 20 February 1951) has provided a renewed look at the things that we make and their impact on both our bodies and the world. Through his Cradle to Cradle philosophy, McDonough’s buildings are designed to function for a predetermined lifespan, after which they can be broken down into their various parts whose core elements can be used anew to solve a different design problem.
William McDonough + Partners
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Must Rethink Carbon (It's Not the Enemy We Face)."
Metropolis editor in chief Susan Szenasy sits down with William McDonough—the designer, author, and developer of Cradle to Cradle design—to understand why we must begin to employ a new language regarding carbon and sustainable design.
Susan Szenasy: Your article in Nature, “Carbon is Not the Enemy,” really caught my attention. You're redefining how we think about carbon, what it is, and what we should be looking for. It seems like a new phase that you're leading us to. How did you come up with this idea, that there needs to be a new language on carbon? Can you trace back your thought process?
William McDonough: [With the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015,] everybody kept saying, "Oh, we have to do this, to reduce our carbon 20% by 2020." Well, when you think about that Susan, it's absurd. What you're telling us is what you're not going to do. You’re going to reduce your badness by 20% by 2020? That would be like getting in a taxi and saying to the driver, "Quick, I'm not going to the airport." It doesn't tell us what you're going to do.
William McDonough + Partners and GXN together with 3XN Architects, BCVA and Urland have teamed up to develop a master plan for the Agro Food Park (AFP), a hub for agricultural innovation near Aarhus, Denmark. Aiming to serve as a benchmark for future global food industry development, the project will combine urban density with agricultural test fields in a collaboration of academic and commercial business.
Over the next 30 years, the current AFP—which was opened in 2009 and spans 44,000 square meters with nearly 1,000 employees—will expand by an additional 280,000 square meters.
We are privileged to have been chosen by GXN to collaborate on what will become an entrepreneurial ecosystem for addressing the future of food and plant resources, said William McDonough, founder of William McDonough + Partners and co-author of the text, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
In the face of global doomsday predictions, sustainability has become one of the most crucial aspects of the 21st century, now playing a huge role in everything from politics to the way you dispose of your trash. Fortunately, most architects understand sustainability implicitly, and have adopted it into their lives and work. Or have they? In this article, originally published on Common Edge as "Why Architects Don't Get It," green building expert Lance Hosey highlights the failures of the architecture community in reaching their stated sustainability goals, and argues for a new conception of architecture in which good design and sustainable design are integrated.
A few years ago, the American Institute of Architects, the self-declared “voice of the architecture profession,” announced that "AIA members will no longer need to complete the sustainable design requirement to fulfill their AIA continuing education." Why? Because “sustainable design practices have become a mainstream design intention.” Hooray! If sustainability is “mainstream” now, and knowledge about it is no longer necessary “to maintain competency” and “to advance and improve the profession”—the purpose of continuing education, according to the AIA—then the profession must have met its environmental goals, and there’s nothing left to improve. Mission accomplished.
Designer William McDonough has unveiled the next step in cradle-to-cradle manufacturing: The Innovation for the Circular Economy house (ICEhouse) in Davos, Switzerland. The ICEhouse aims to show the “positive design framework described in the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, and the reuse of resources implicit in the circular economy."
The house was used as a place of gathering and discussion for the World Economic Forum annual meeting. After being used for the week, the building will be disassembled and reconstructed elsewhere.
As an idea that was developed fairly early on in the movement for sustainability, and picked up significant traction a few years into the new millennium, "Design for Deconstruction" has been around for some years. Yet still, considered on the scale of building lifespans, the idea is still in its infancy, with few opportunities to test its principles. In this post originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Recycled Buildings or Bridges? Designing for Deconstruction Beyond Adaptive Reuse," Timothy A Schuler looks at the advances that have been made, and the challenges that still face, the design for deconstruction movement.
This summer, the Oakland Museum of California announced a new public arts grant program. Except instead of money, selected artists would receive steel. Tons of it.
The Bay Bridge Steel Program emerged out of a desire to salvage and repurpose the metal that once made up the eastern span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, originally constructed in 1933 (it was replaced in 2013). The steel in question, sourced from “spans referred to as ‘504s’ and ‘288s’ (in reference to their length in feet),” according to the application material, would be available for civic and public art projects within the state of California.
The program represents a unique opportunity to adaptively reuse infrastructure, upcycling what might have been waste. And yet any instance of adaptive reuse is inherently reactive because the design process is dictated by an existing condition.
"What I'm trying to look at is how do we make humans supportive of a natural world, in the way that the natural world is supportive of us?" In the latest installment of Arbuckle Industries' Archiculture interviews, architect, educator, environmentalist, and author Bill McDonough discusses some of the challenges and themes he has seen in our built environment. He focuses on environmentalism in architecture through the lens of carbon neutrality and the problems with that principle. He goes on to address some of his solutions, including a Cradle to Cradle design approach which changes the way environmental problems are tackled.
William McDonough + Partners has been selected to design Method’s first U.S. manufacturing facility on a brownfield site in Chicago’s historic Pullman community. The company, known for producing environmentally conscious cleaning products, commissioned McDonough to design an ultra clean, LEED Platinum facility constructed from Cradle to Cradle Certified materials and powered entirely by renewable energy.
LocationMoffett Field, California
Architect of Record / Landscape Architect of Record / MEP / Structural / Civil EngineeringAECOM
Landscape ArchitectSiteworks Studio
Daylighting / Lighting / Energy ConsultantLoisos + Ubbelohde
Materials AssessmentMcDonough Braungart Design Chemistry
ClientNASA Ames Research Center
General ContractorSwinerton Builders