Aug '08 - Jul '09
I realized rather late in the semester that I had forgotten to give you our lecture series schedule. By the time I realized it, in fact, half of them were already done, so I didn't bother.
In the absence of that I'd like tell you about one of the speakers that I think was quite different than a typical architecture school speaker: our guest last night, Steven Strong.
Steven runs an office in Massachusetts called Solar Design Associates and has devoted his career to the objective of using solar energy instead of traditional fossil fuels to power our built environment, to spreading the word about solar technology, and generally to making buildings greener. He was animated, folksy, and downright unequivocal in his proclamations, as evidenced his slide show, which I captured on iPhone below:
That slide shows a graph, which depicts the availability of oil (white line) with the projected world population (red line) on the left; on the right, it shows the scene from Thelma and Louise where they drive off a cliff, which is what Steven supposes we're doing if we keep relying on oil.
The thing is, I know most of what Steven spoke about last night. I've based my future career off of it, in fact. But when he talked about this stuff in relationship to architecture, he was very clear: "the economy and the profession as you know it are gone. None of what we had before is going to come back. Everything is going to be different now." ...I'm paraphrasing but I think I knew that already too. I wonder how many others realize it?...
Steven told us a story about a project he was working on with a University where they had hired a big-name design architect who, after 3 months of working when the University approached him and said "we have money to make this a green building" he said, "not on MY building." Steven didn't tell us who this was but you can imagine any number of old-school type people saying this. And maybe in the old way of doing things, that architect, despite it being the will of the client and the right thing to do, might have gotten his way. But here, in the 21st century, the University pulled out of its contract with that design architect, and got a new one who respected its wishes and designed them a good-looking AND greener building.
Sustainability and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive. In this brave new era we're entering, anyone who doesn't understand that and adjust may as well try to look for a job in 1985.