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Legislation: The Latest Architecture and News

Playing the Housing Game for Profit: the British Volume Housebuilding Project

In his essay "Figures, Doors and Passages", the architectural historian Robin Evans described how "it is difficult to see in the conventional layout of a contemporary house anything but the crystallization of cold reason. Because of this," he asserted, "we are easily led into thinking that a commodity so transparently unexceptional must have been wrought directly from the stuff of basic human needs." His words, which highlight the passive approach of designers, developers and dwellers when it comes to the vast majority of British housing being built today, were first published in 1978 – two years before the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher introduced the 1980 Housing Act.

Los Angeles Rids Itself of Helipad Requirement, Opens City to “Bolder” Skyline

Helicopter landing pads will no longer be required atop new buildings in Los Angeles, California. The rule’s elimination, which was announced yesterday by the city’s mayor and fire chief, allows architects the freedom to break away from LA’s “boxy” skyline. “I want to see innovative design,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I want to see good design, but we’re going to take the handcuffs off of you when we ask you to do that. I want neighborhoods to look good, and I want our buildings to look iconic.” You can read more about the change, here.

Southern States Outlaw LEED Building Standards

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 Alabama 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 Housing and Urban Development 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:

Groups Urge Congress: Keep Energy Conservation Requirements for Government Buildings

The American Institute of Architects today released a letter from more than 350 different associations and companies expressing opposition to efforts by special interests to gut energy conservation requirements for federal buildings.

The letter, which is addressed to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was released one week ahead of the scheduled mark-up of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee May 8.

That legislation, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would promote greater use of energy efficiency technology in commercial and residential buildings and by manufacturers.

More information after the break...

AIA's 2012 Legislative Agenda

© 2010 CAST architecture
© 2010 CAST architecture

The AIA recently unveiled their 2012 legislative agenda, and has made it clear that creating jobs in the design and construction industry are a priority. We have been covering the numerous initiatives that the AIA has been implementing over the past year ranging from the Stalled Building Index, the regularly updated Architectural Billing Index and their update of the 2030 Commitment Reporting Tool. Of particular importance, especially for those of us who are running small firms or contemplating breaking into this fragile market as a sole proprietor, is an emphasis on fostering our growth. With the bulk of firms falling into this category – 95% of all firms in the US employ 50 or fewer people – this initiative should put some pressure on the political machine that has the authority to reign in the tax rates on small entrepreneurs and stimulate growth through the reevaluation of private sector lending. In tandem with this concerted effort by the AIA, it is practically imperative as a small business owner, that we take control and become much more fluid in an increasingly amorphous and uncertain environment. Whether it is by seeking out non-traditional design opportunities, or introducing new initiatives that are unique to your firm, we as a design community are certainly up to the task. (See Jennifer Kennedy’s recent article on the topic here.)