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Leonardo DiCaprio, Eco-Tourism, and Blackadore Caye: Has Green Building Jumped the Shark?

09:30 - 12 January, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio, Eco-Tourism, and Blackadore Caye: Has Green Building Jumped the Shark?, Blackadore Caye, a luxury eco-tourism resort proposed for Leonardo DiCaprio's island off of the coast of Belize. Image © McLennan Design via The New York Times
Blackadore Caye, a luxury eco-tourism resort proposed for Leonardo DiCaprio's island off of the coast of Belize. Image © McLennan Design via The New York Times

In early April 2015, the New York Times reported on Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent purchase of Blackadore Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize that has faced significant environmental degradation and erosion. A patron of several environmental projects, DiCaprio is partnering with Paul Scialla, CEO of the Delos real estate and wellness platform, to create an eco-resort intended to serve as the latest model of cutting-edge, environmentally-responsible tourism development. The development plans include a row of floating guest suites built over the water, 48 private villas (ringing in at $5-15 million), human health and anti-aging wellness programs, and a conservation area. The project is advertised as meeting the ambitious green building standards of the Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard®.

Many Times readers in the comments section sardonically noted that the private jets and the shipment of building materials and daily resources for island development come with large environmental and social price tags that far outweigh the conservation efforts associated with the resort. On the other hand, a few commentators pointed out that the development will employ local labor and save the island from complete degradation. The discussion surrounding the pros and cons of “eco-tourism” development is not a new one, and not one that is easily settled.

But beyond the (important) discussion of the impacts of eco-tourism, the development raises questions about the emergence of alternative green building market standards, which ostensibly aim to transform the building industry by setting measurable targets for the environmental and social effects of the places we live and work.

Four Renowned Practices Battle it Out to Design Sydney's Next "Masterpiece"

01:00 - 18 February, 2013
Four Renowned Practices Battle it Out to Design Sydney's Next "Masterpiece", Artist impression for Barangaroo Central’s current master planning competition (click image for more) © Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Artist impression for Barangaroo Central’s current master planning competition (click image for more) © Barangaroo Delivery Authority

Four of architecture’s finest has been shortlisted to design what Australian businessman James Packer hopes to be the most iconic building in Sydney since the Opera House. Italian Pritzker Prize-laureate Renzo Piano will compete against Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects to design a $1 billion, six-star Crown Sydney resort on a 6000 square meter site in the inner-city waterfront precinct of Barangaroo. 

"Sydney deserves one of the world's best hotels and with these amazing architects I'm confident we will see the most iconic building constructed here since the Opera House," Packer told The Daily Telegraph. "I want this hotel resort to be instantly recognizable around the world and feature on postcards and memorabilia promoting Sydney. That's how you attract international tourists, create jobs and put Sydney on the map."

More after the break...

4 Islands in Maldives / OFIS arhitekti

07:30 - 14 April, 2009
Island 2 - Hadahaa
Island 2 - Hadahaa

Architect: OFIS arhitekti Location: Maldives Islands Project Leaders: Rok Oman, Špela Videčnik Design Year: 2004-2006 Further Development: 2009 Design Team: Nejc Batistic, Martina Lipicer, Marisa Baptista 3d Animations & Realisations: David Lozej, Jaka Zvan, Rok Jereb

Island 4 - Randheli Island 1 - Funamadua Island 3 - Konotta Island 2 - Hadahaa +93

Monterey Bay Shores Eco Resort

21:00 - 4 February, 2009

Our green friends  at Inhabitat just featured a stunning new development set to break ground this month that will convert a desolate disused sand mine into a thriving environmental preserve and eco-resort. Replete with living walls and a five acre green roof, the development boasts an impressive list of green design elements and is working towards LEED Platinum certification. Now, saying that you’re the “Greenest Eco Resort” is quite a claim, but if the Resort builds out all that they have promised, it really will be the most environmentally friendly resort in the US, and possibly in the world.