Friday, April 27, 2007

the ceiling to the heavens

photo by Wolfgang Wackernagel

this was too cool to not pass on, since the pantheon is one [if not the one] of our favorite buildings.

pantheonic astronomy

via bldgblog

Thursday, April 12, 2007

so it goes

image from nyt

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
perhaps from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,

“It is done.”

People did not like it here.

rest in peace, Kurt Vonnegut


Friday, April 06, 2007

climate [of] change

on a particularly moody day with rain and sleet here in the rockies, we find it appropriate to call attention to the recently released document:

Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

as much as attention as this topic has gotten lately, it's hard to say anything new without the same apocalyptic cliches.

the things that analysts, scientists and soothsayers haven't done a very good job of is relating these finds to the common man through specific circumstances. sorry guys, you are in the unfortunate position of being in politics too [we architects know what that is like]. one could speculate that most of the analysts cannot relate to the demographic who will be suffering the most from climate change, RE: the world's poor.

what we got here is... failure... to communicate.

our cynicism here about corporations embracing the green movement [it's sooo fashionable to be green nowadays] and the mediocre sustainablity standards...*ahem*->LEED...won't come out to play as long as we keep the topic tight.

and maybe it's because there's too much ground to cover in one blog post. how can we focus on the individual resposibility of the architect? george monbiot [uk] has some seemingly drastic solutions [if because of the timetable] including the following:

->Introduce a new set of building regulations, with three objectives.

A. Imposing strict energy efficiency requirements on all major refurbishments (costing £3000 or more). Timescale: comes into force by June 2007.

B. Obliging landlords to bring their houses up to high energy efficiency standards before they can rent them out. Timescale: to cover all new rentals from January 2008.

C. Ensuring that all new homes in the UK are built to the German passivhaus standard (which requires no heating system). Timescale: comes into force by 2012.

his comments about the turnover rates are intriguing:

"These timescales might seem extraordinarily ambitious. They are, by contrast to the current glacial pace of change. But when the US entered the second world war, it turned the economy around on a sixpence. Carmakers began producing aircraft and missiles within a year, and amphibious vehicles in 90 days, from a standing start. And that was 65 years ago..."

so what are we really talking about? responsibility? acountability?
how about: morality.

"Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it’s happening and that its results will be catastrophic; but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it."-monbiot

architects' decisions are directly linked to some of the worst pollution on the planet. construction waste; scraping 15-year old homes; suburbian mcmansions; gated communites-these are not new topics. rather than kicking a dead pig, let's focus inwards. there are actions within the design process we could engage. metropolis magazine editor-in-chief Susan S. Szenasy has a few suggestions worth noting.

1) You—designers—should get out of your darkened rooms with their big, flashy images and figure out how to talk about design in the sunlight. In fact, just try talking about design once in a while without showing anything.
PowerPoint presentations have killed thinking in the late 20th Century. We’re living in new times now. Stop using PowerPoint for everything. Give others credit for being able to follow your argument without the aid of bullet points for every factoid you flash.

2) This shift of world-views is a complex and serious business. It needs all kinds of expertise and it needs every one of you, and more. Many of you are already involved in education. Turn your involvement into something significant, relevant, and timely.

3) If you teach at a university where there’s a teachers’ college, infiltrate that teachers’ college with your design ideas by making friends with the professors there. While it’s great that some designers do wonderful programs with public schools, these efforts are few and far between. We have an urgency here.
It would be more productive to educate the educators.

4) Become citizen designers. When architect Beverly Willis and I launched our civic group, R.Dot, in those heartbreaking days after 9/11, we didn’t know we could attract politically savvy designers who’d want to attend regular meetings and work very hard pro bono. As it turns out a graphic designer, Roland Gebhardt; an industrial designer, Brent Oppenheimer; and an architect, Ron Schiffman, became the guiding lights behind several of our detailed and comprehensive position papers on managed streets, culture zones, and housing.

The citizen designer is on the ascendant, especially post 9/11.

5) Find collaborators in whatever area of expertise your project requires. Become a design detective, a forensic designer: the path has been cut for you by others, make it wider.

now about money [we've reached the bottom line]. what is the cost of going "green"?
in the same monbiot article, george argues:

" would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it...I hope it doesn’t mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds."

have a good weekend...