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.
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.
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.
It seems Jacques Herzog is not particularly excited about the opening of the 2015 Expo in Milan later this year. In an interview with uncube magazine Herzog - one half of Herzog & de Meuron, the Expo's masterplanners - explains why they left the project in 2011, along with collaborators Stefano Boeri, William McDonough and Ricky Burdett. In their absence, he says, the Expo will now feature their plan "only as an urbanistic and formal pattern, not as an intellectual concept," and their plan to transform the event into "a radically new vision for a world exhibition" has been twisted so that the Expo "will be the same kind of vanity fair that we’ve seen in the past." Read the full interview here.
William McDonough of William McDonough + Partners has decided to become Stanford University's first "living archive" in an effort to change the way we as humans remember and record our daily lives. Although technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo have made verbal and visual documentation a much larger part of our lives, McDonough has decided to record nearly every moment of his day - every day - for the greater, intellectual good.
Read more on McDonough's archiving process...