Move Over, Green Walls: Living Canopy Comes to West Vancouver

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Imagine walking beneath an illuminated canopy of lush greenery, in the form of inverted pyramids sculpted to perfection. In early August 2014 visitors were welcomed by this succulent living roof to the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Guests were guided through the fairgrounds beneath the 90-foot long canopy, creating an immersive sensory experience befitting the interdisciplinary creative arts festival. Designed by Matthew Soules Architecture and curated by the Museum of West VancouverVermilion Sands was created as a temporary for the ten day festival.

Submerge yourself in Vermilion Sands with photos and more info after the break.

Introducing the DEAD Prize: Recognizing the Worst in Design

Numerous awards recognize innovative, forward-thinking and environmentally-friendly design, yet there is no way to recognize projects that are harming the environment or detrimental to the planet – until now. Created by Cameron Sinclair, one of the co-founders of Architecture for Humanity and current Executive Director of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, the recently launched “DEAD Prize” seeks to highlight projects that have a negative impact on the planet, with the aim of inspiring designers to “see these failures as a challenge to create something new, to correct the mistakes of the past or to find the antidote for the project in question.” Tweet your nominations for the prize to @deadprize by November 1 and learn more about this tongue-in-cheek award at the DEAD Prize website.

San Francisco Apple Store Passes “Avian Risk” Analysis

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Apple’s signature glass design has come with its fair share of mishaps – from errant snowblowers to, of course, dying birds. To determine the risk posed by Apple’s latest approved store to ’s protected bird population, Apple hired avian collision risk consultants (really) who determined that the risk is “acceptable” (for non-avian species at least). Read the full bird analysis here.

VIDEO: Liz Diller on the High Line, A Mile of Respite in the City that Never Sleeps

Liz Diller, one of the three partners of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, discusses the history of the High Line and the active design decisions which led to its success.

The elevated railroad, which was designed to penetrate city blocks rather than parallel an avenue, saw its last delivery (of frozen turkeys) in 1980. By 1999, a “very strange landscape had formed, with a whole eco system around it,” says Diller. Advocacy for the site’s preservation began with two local residents, and culminated in its reclamation with the multidisciplinary collaboration of city officials and impassioned designers (namely James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planting designer Piet Oudolf). “The project couldn’t have happened without the right people, the right time and the right administration.”

Today, thirty-feet above the hardscape in the canopy of the New York City jungle, the High Line pauses for a meditative mile. “The high line, if it’s about anything, it’s about nothing, about doing nothing. You can walk and sit, but you can’t be productive,” comments Diller.

Australia Plans for Greener Cities by 2020

The Goods Line proposal. Image Courtesy of ASPECT Studios

As cities continue to attract more people, naturally vegetated areas slowly wither, leaving little to no green spaces for city dwellers to escape to, no to purify the air and enhance the environment. plans to change this. The 202020 Vision is a concerted effort from the government, academic and private sectors to create twenty percent green areas in ’s urban centers by 2020. “Urban heat islands, poor air quality, lack of enjoyable urban community areas are all poor outcomes when green spaces aren’t incorporated into new developments and large scale building projects.” Read about the 202020 initiative here, “More green spaces in urban areas, says new national initiative.”

Architects Tackle LA’s Water Scarcity

Arid Land Institute Geo-spatial Model. Image © Arid Land Institute

scarcity is a profound challenge for designers of the built environment. Beyond looking for sources and creating sustainable ecosystems, how can we begin to create cities and buildings that will help us to celebrate and mitigate hydro-logical concerns? Hadley and Peter Arnold, co-directors of the Arid Land Institute (ALI) at Woodbury University, have decided to tackle this problem around Los Angeles. With the support of the World Water Forum and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern , they recently developed a high-resolution geospatial model to strategically identify and quantify the potential for improving storm water capture within urban areas.

2013 ONE Prize Finalists Announced

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The finalists of the 2013 ONE Prize, a competition exploring the social, economic, and ecological possibilities of urban transformation, have just been announced. The 2013 competition focused on severe climate dynamism, calling for innovative and thoughtful design proposals and urban interventions that intend to alleviate storm impact and answer the question: “How can cities adapt to the future challenges of extreme weather?”

Southern States Outlaw LEED Building Standards

1315 Peachtree, in Atlanta, achieved LEED Platinum Certification. However, will newer buildings in Georgia be held to the same standards? . Image Courtesy of Perkins + Will

The US Green Building Council’s federally adopted LEED certification system has come under legislative siege with lobbyists from the timber, plastics and chemical industries crying out, “monopoly!” Mississippi, Georgia and have lead efforts to ban LEED, claiming the USGBC’s closed-door approach and narrow-minded material interests have shut out stakeholders in various industries that could otherwise aid in the sustainable construction of environmentally-sensitive buildings.

Most recently, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, slipped in a last minute amendment to both the and Department of Transportation appropriation bills stating no tax money may be used to require implementation of any green building certification system other than a system that:

Where is LEED Leading Us?…And Should We Follow?

CityCenter, a Gold Building in Las Vegas, demonstrates the irony of a Certified, sustainable, building in the unsustainable context of the desert.

At this point, it’s fairly uncontroversial to say that the Earth is under siege. From us, from our resource-consuming ways, ultimately, from our thoughtlessness.

Green Design is not just a catch-phrase, but a mindset. As Architects, implementing the principles of Green Design means putting thoughtfulness back into our actions, conscientiously considering our built environment, and reversing the havoc we have wreaked on our resources.

To do that, we need to know what Green Design means, and be able to evaluate what it is and isn’t. Using Earth Day as our excuse then, let’s examine the single most influential factor on the future of Green Design: LEED.

To its credit, LEED has moved a mountain: it has taken the “mysticism” out of Green Design and made Big Business realize its financial benefits, incentivizing and legitimizing it on a grand scale.

But as LEED gains popularity, its strength becomes its weakness; it’s becoming dangerously close to creating a blind numbers game, one that, instead of inspiring innovative, forward-looking design, will freeze us in the past.

Read the 10 Pros & Cons of LEED, after the break…