Recent sessions of the RBA/Northeastern University Myra Kraft Open Classroom Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Inspiring Places in America series featured speakers from Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City. They described how inclusive design can help build social infrastructure and capital, enabling communities to tackle big challenges such as climate change, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and homelessness. Their comments reinforced the value of visionary leadership, engaging and empowering people, and design thinking—all key themes from previous sessions on Planning Equity, Engaging Communities via Food and Education, and Building Equity with Housing and Parks.
Climate Crisis: The Latest Architecture and News
Sustainable design in the United States is for many a sort of Rorschach test. The construction industry is either making steady progress toward the ultimate goal of a carbon-free building sector, or it’s moving entirely too slowly, missing key targets as the ecological clock keeps ticking. The perplexing truth to all of this is: both are ostensibly true. In recent decades the industry has become significantly more energy efficient. We’ve added building stock but flattened the energy curve. The cost of renewables continues to drop. But way more is required, much more quickly. At the same time, huge hurdles remain. Without a renewable grid and stringent energy codes, it’s hard to see how we can fully decarbonize the building sector in even 20 years, let alone at the timeline suggested by increasingly worried climate scientists. It’s the classic good news/bad news scenario (or vice-versa, depending on your mood).
This article was originally published on Common Edge
In a Common Edge article, I briefly discussed a concept that I call the “Triple Bottom Lie,” which posits that more people, plus more consumption by each person, plus an economic system completely dependent on the aforementioned items, can just keep working forever, without consequences. Historically, the United States has accepted the economic shibboleth of endless growth because it reduced class conflict; a rising tide (supposedly) lifted all boats, rafts and yachts included. We are, however, approaching the limits of growth, from both a resource standpoint (we’re running out of raw materials) and a technological standpoint (our inventions are progressively less revolutionary).
In 2019 CMG Landscape Architecture principal Pamela Conrad launched Climate Positive Design in an effort to help landscape architects design and build projects that can become climate positive. In this interview originally published on The Dirt, Jared Green talks with Conrad about how this approach can make a big difference.
"It’s my hope that things like this can give the next generation hope that there are solutions out there," states Conrad, a recipient of the 2018 Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellowship for the development of the award-winning Pathfinder landscape carbon calculator app and the Climate Positive Design Challenge.
A “floodscape” could be seen as a contradiction in terms: Flood spreads wherever gravity leads it, covering the familiar topography with a dark, gray, and uniform blanket. In that regard, flood is amorphous, as it can distort and temporarily erase forms and features from the visible landscape—nothing that could be described as a “scape” in the sense of articulated and meaningful scenery.
But when the boundaries of a flood are not just defined by the quantity or the velocity of water but also by landforms and structures carefully designed and placed to influence and shape the “disaster,” the result can be considered as a landscape, physically and culturally defined by flood.
Facing the current and accentuated global challenges, we ask ourselves: What should we address first?
2020 was a tremendous opportunity to focus all our efforts and attention on the most urgent issues of architecture. Through articles, interviews, debates, and projects, ArchDaily's Topics presented each month an in-depth response to the most relevant problems - from the climate crisis and emergency architecture to artificial intelligence and How Will We Live Together.
Architect and activist Edward Mazria, FAIA has been honored with the 2021 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. The Gold Medal honors an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. As the jury notes, Mazria is being recognized for his work to combat the climate crisis and motivate the profession to take action.
“When there is a convergence of crises, like we have now, there needs to be a convergence of solutions,” argued Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the 2020 GreenBuild conference. These solutions need to be net-zero in terms of energy and greenhouse gas emissions, regenerative, and reconnect humanity to nature. And while progress towards these solutions is now “irreversible,” we need to move much faster towards a net-zero world.
There’s nothing green about your back-up generator. Manufacturing it released tons of CO2 into the atmosphere; so did shipping it from the factory to the dealership to your backyard. There it will sit, idle, waiting to be deployed only when the much cleaner—but underfunded—public infrastructure fails. At that point, it will fill the air with additional pollutants. There may be perfectly good reasons to buy an emergency generator but being green—that is, protecting the environment—isn’t one of them.
This August, as hundreds of wildfires darkened the sky above my home in Corte Madera, California, thousands of miles away in Florida, my family braced for wind and flooding as two hurricanes barreled towards the Gulf of Mexico. We all hunkered down, anxiously, as climate change-fueled disasters wreaked havoc. For weeks, the air quality in California was too hazardous for us to open our windows or go outside. In Pensacola, the Gulf storm surge was several feet deep around my family’s home and the powerful winds downed mature oak trees in their yard.
3XN/GXN have revealed their design for a new CO2 neutral and climate positive addition to the Hotel Green Solution House (Hotel GSH), in Rønne on the Danish island of Bornholm. Scheduled for 2021, the new wing including 24 rooms, a conference room, and a roof spa, is expected to provide a positive climate footprint when built, a novelty in Danish commercial buildings.
Over the past week, I’ve seen at least two large mainstream press articles on climate migration, and as more people seem to be tossing around their next move locale—something between North Dakota and anywhere else with the word “north” it. Often, in a simplified, single-issue flattening of the full-range of shifts happening around us.
Mask Architects has been named one of ten winning teams in the Cool Abu Dhabi a global design competition. Their proposal, The Oasys, is a system where residents of Abu Dhabi can relax and enjoy outdoor spaces without feeling the heat. Selected from more than 1,570 participants across 67 countries, the project aims to tackle the effects of climate change through a localized solution for the urban heat island effect.
Since its installation in the late 1990s, a large clock in New York City’s Union Square has been counting up to 24 hours in each day with the number of hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds on display. However, the digital screen was recently repurposed as a Climate Clock and now projects the amount of time the world has left to take large-scale action on climate change- and the alarming truth, based on an IPCC Special Report on Global Warming counts down to only a little over seven years left until we reach the point of no return.