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Populous wins national award for Target Field design

Target Field, the new Minnesota Twins ballpark designed by Kansas City-based Populous architects, has been named Sports Facility of the Year by a national sports business publication.

The ballpark in downtown Minneapolis, which also has its own light-rail station, completed its first season last year.

The award was announced Wednesday at a ceremony in New York City by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.

In winning the honor, Target Field topped three other Populous-designed sports facilities including the Arrowhead Stadium renovation project. The others were Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic, and Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The New Meadowlands Stadium designed by 360 Architecture of Kansas City, home of the New York Giants and Jets, also was a finalist.

The honor by Street & Smith’s was the latest accolade for Target Field. It was named the number one stadium experience in all professional sport last year by ESPN the Magazine, and also was named 2010 Ballpark of the Year by Ballpark Digest.

“We knew from the outset it would be a great project,” Earl Santee, Populous senior principal, said in a statement.

“It’s nice to receive validation as the best sports facility in the country, one that is a model to be revered and studied for future stadia development.

Source:  Kansas City Star

Direct link to Target Field Website

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Architecture Killed the American Folk Art Museum

Last night, the American Folk Art Museum — that beloved, bedeviled museum on West 53rd Street — confirmed what many of us had feared for years. It is in such deep debt and has such low attendance numbers that it will sell its building and relocate back to a lobby space one sixth its current size near Lincoln Center. Sad as it is to say, this news comes as no surprise, and the culprit is the museum’s physical home.

Despite the many rave reviews the 30,000-square-foot building received when it opened in December 2001, it was immediately clear to many that the building was not only ugly and confining, it was also all but useless for showing art — especially art as visionary as this museum’s. In the past decade, AFAM has mounted shows of some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, including Martin Ramirez, Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfli, and Thomas Chambers. Yet from the outside it looked like a bronzed Kleenex box or a miniature suburban professional building. The inside was worse. Dominated by showy staircases of many scales going in different directions, ill-conceived nooks and niches, the galleries were long narrow corridors or landings, sometimes only a few feet wide, making it impossible to see the art. The largest exhibition spaces had the look of a gloomy cloakroom. The architects responsible for this utter lack of imagination and hubristic mess of starchitectural vanity, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, were praised for their intelligent use of materials. The building was called astonishing, a shrine, a temple, a Zen masterpiece. In reality, every one of their decisions reflected a total lack of feeling for, even a disdain for, art. Before he died, the Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp, who’d said nice things about the building when it opened, confided to me that my loathing was “probably right.”

This terrible building will be sold to MoMA for an undisclosed sum. I can only imagine that MoMA will use the building for office space — perhaps freeing up much-needed room for its own sorely cramped permanent collection — or tear it down and start again.

We may be at the beginning of a long period of undoing, of rebuilding or destroying architectural failures. In the years to come, those who oversaw and built many new museums and museum wings will have much to answer for. During a period when the West accumulated more wealth than at any time in the history of the world, a vast amount of ill-conceived space for art was constructed, as institutions wasted their energy on atriums and useless entertainment areas. Books and dissertations will be written, panels will be convened, ridicule will be heaped, as our descendants look back at these atrocious buildings and wonder how so much went so wrong. The American Folk Art Museum will probably be the first to be razed, and not the last.

Source: NY Mag

[Update: Now read NY Mag architecture critic Justin Davidson’s rebuttal: Jerry Saltz Has It All Wrong About the American Folk Art Museum]

[Update 2:  Now read Architecture Record article:  Tod Williams Worries That Folk Art Museum Will Be Razed Following Sale to MoMA]

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UNStudio Architecture design of Education Executive Agency & Tax offices in Groningen, Netherlands


A new, 92 meter tall complex of soft, undulating curves marks the skyline of Groningen. This asymmetric, aerodynamic construction is set amidst small, ancient woodland, sheltering rare and protected species. The project includes the design, construction and financing of two public institutions; the national tax offices and the student loan administration. The commission from the RGD (National Buildings Service) includes, besides the architecture, the management and building maintenance and care of facilities and services for a period of 20 years. Accommodating 2,500 workstations, parking facilities for 1,500 bicycles and 675 cars in an underground garage, the building will be surrounded by a large public city garden with pond and a multifunctional pavilion with commercial functions.

The architecture aims to present these institutions with a softer, more human and approachable profile. Tall buildings are generally associated with mid-twentieth century modernism. Their harsh, businesslike exteriors contain powerful, inaccessible-seeming strongholds. By contrast, the DUO and Tax offices deliberately cloak a commanding public institution in an organic, friendlier and more future-oriented form.

“We paid a great deal of attention to how people would move through the building. The office spaces are designed in such a way that they do not create simple linear corridors leading to dead ends, but instead each corridor has a route which introduces a kind of landscape into the building. You can take endless walks through the building, where there is a great deal of transparency, also towards the surrounding landscape.”

The governmental office complex is built as part of a far-reaching form of public-private partnership (DBFMO) that is designed to effectuate on a more efficient use of public funds. The design, construction, financing, managing and maintenance of the building was hosted by one consortium consisting of Strukton, Ballast Nedam and John Laing. This consortium won the competition for the project on the basis of a combination of esthetic, technical and financial criteria. UNStudio, as the architect of the project, collaborated with Lodewijk Baljon for the landscape design, Arup for the engineering and Studio Linse as the interior advisor.

The life-cycle approach of a DBFMO contract requires that all relevant experts (designers, lawyers, installation specialists, financial specialists, facility specialists) are involved from the start of the project in order to find the best, most cost effective and environmentally-friendly solutions for the continued use and maintenance of the building. This working methodology stimulates not only creative and innovative ideas, but facilitates a reduction of total costs over the entire contract period compared to the traditional means of contracting. In PPP projects contracts are not awarded to the lowest bidder, but to the party with most effective solutions providing the best value for money.

“In a PPP-construction you have to consider all the details concerning maintenance and the sustainable use of the building from the very early stages. It is a unique way to gather all the specialists and the end user around the table from the very outset of the project.”

View additional photos and project details

Source: Architizer

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‘Why Architecture Matters’ gets behind the facades

“It’s all architecture.” So said master designer I.M. Pei some years back, when an interviewer asked him to distinguish between the different styles then prevalent on the American landscape. Pei’s good-humored evasion is true enough. In simplest terms, architecture, as the design and construction of buildings, legitimately includes everything from Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia State Capitol and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater to a prefabricated barn outside Dallas and the Shell station at the end of my street. But in the popular imagination, and to most architects and builders as well, architecture is very much more than simple shelter. It is art, and when it is done well, it can inspire the soul.

It is to this conviction that Paul Goldberger addresses his latest book, “Why Architecture Matters” (Yale, $26). In his introduction, Goldberger, architecture critic for the New Yorker since 1997 and prior to that for The New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer, elaborates that his purpose is to “explain what buildings do beyond keeping us out of the rain.” To do so, he divides his analysis into chapters with titles like “Meaning, Culture, and Symbol,” “Architecture as Object,” “Architecture as Space,” “Buildings and Time” and so on. These categories are general enough, and the architectural masterpieces he writes about significant enough, that many of his examples could comfortably fit into any number of slots. For example, the Parthenon, highlighted in the chapter “Architecture as Object,” could just as easily be included in “Meaning, Culture, and Symbol.” Goldberger’s aim in making these choices isn’t to present definitive judgments but rather to illuminate specific aspects of the craft.

Though average Americans may not think about architecture in the abstract very much, if at all, they certainly deal with it on a daily basis, from their own homes, businesses and offices to their kids’ schools. As Goldberger declares: “To be engaged with architecture is to be engaged with almost everything else as well: culture, society, politics, business, history, family, religion, education. Every building exists to house something, and what it houses is itself part of the pursuit of architecture.” And, he contends, all those houses, businesses, office towers and schools that we thread our way through, around, into and out of say something about us and our culture. Goldberger’s intent is to help the reader to understand this and learn how to read the built environment and the society that produces it based on some of the best that has been constructed down the ages.

Even so, the finest buildings still have to be practical. After all, if they leak, what good are they? Goldberger is surprisingly forgiving on this score. “It is churlish to complain that Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses leak or that Le Corbusier’s weather badly or that Frank Gehry’s are difficult to construct,” he writes, “all of which may be more or less true, but what of it? That leaky roof is not our problem, and neither is the fact that we might not wish to live in such a building ourselves.” Except, of course, when the leaky roof is our problem or we do live in a mediocre building inspired by some flawed original that was praised by the aesthetic community and whose disastrous knockoffs now inconvenience thousands. Goldberger doesn’t dwell much on design failure and its consequences in this volume, but perhaps that is another book.

What he does emphasize are the principles of good design, and the numerous accompanying, clear, black-and-white illustrations, heavily tipped toward more recent decades, help make his points. In architecture, as in perhaps no other field, is the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” so true. Among the buildings illustrated are the Pantheon in Rome, the Lincoln Memorial, Penn Station, the glass pyramid at the Louvre and the Seagram Building in New York. Goldberger’s prose is admirably jargon-free and straightforward but, alas, lacks the sparkle and pepper that Ada Louise Huxtable, his predecessor at The Times, was so famous for. Still, “Why Architecture Matters” is a good introduction to a fascinating subject that should indeed very much matter to everyone.

Source: al.com

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Architects, experts discuss past and future of Chinese architecture

National Grand Theater

Architecture is still a fledgeling industry, whose recent successes mustn’t be allowed to obscure endemic problems of appreciation and organization. Such were the conclusions of “China Architecture 10 Years (2000-2010): Architecture & Society,” a series of forums (held in Beijing and Shanghai, with another scheduled in Guangzhou) inviting local architects and government officials to discuss China’s past and future relationship with architecture.

Rise of the modern

Throughout history, China has contributed architecure styles such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Suzhou gardens and the Shanghai Shikumen, innovations with typically Chinese characteristics. But where are the modern styles?

In the past 10 years, a series of events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2010

Guangzhou Asian Games, have seen China’s cityscapes enjoy worldwide coverage as a modern showcase of rapidly rising, large concrete buildings.

Nowadays, if Beijing and Shanghai are mentioned, constructions such as the National Grand Theater, the new China Central Television headquarters, the National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest), or Shanghai World Financial Center (until now, the highest building in the world) and Jin Mao Tower immediately come to mind. Their common features are that they are large, tall and modern.

At the Shanghai forum, Yang Ming, the director of the East China Architectural Design and Research Institute, declared that the achievements of the past 10 years are so huge that one could effectively ignore any construction done in the first 20 years of reform and opening-up.

“At present, when you go outside, 80 percent of the outstanding buildings you can see in China were built during the last 10 years,” Yang observed.

Yang pointed out that since the National Grand Theater project was designed by French architect Paul Andreu and began construction in 2001, more and more domestic construction projects in China have opened their doors to foreign architects and Sino-foreign cooperations are rapidly emerging here. “It is really a very good opportunity for the future of Chinese architecture,” Yang said.

Big is better

Most of the architects and experts involved in the forums agreed with the analysis and thought that the recent success was closely related to events in China during this time.

According to Hu Yue, director of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and Research, there is a correlation, unique in China, that when grand events take place, large buildings always appear.

“Throughout the history of world architecture, large buildings were not always related to big events,” Hu said, “Of course, China has the largest population in the world, with plenty of reasons for big buildings, but whether it’s necessary or worthy to invest so much human and material resources into them is worthy of consideration.”

Hu wondered, “What on earth is good architecture?” In his opinion, there seemed to be two criteria in China for judging.

“One is from the government and is the ‘official’ one, which usually thinks that ‘large’ and ‘important’ symbolic buildings are good …The other is repressing the public and the media, who seem always to have the opposite view and judgment to the official criterion,” said Hu.

Zhuang Weimin, director of the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University, expressed his helplessness as an architect when facing this “offical” dilemma. In order to meet the deadlines of large events like the Olympic Games and the World Expo, he said, of design projects always have to be finished within a very short time. “The years of working experience of the architect cannot be well-matched with the design and the construction. We are always pitched into designing,” he complained.

“Moreover, once finished, are there any [buildings] that really have architects’ own care and thought inside? I’m not sure.”

Duty of an architect

For critic Wang Mingxian in Beijing, the problem was different. Although he conceded the foreign and Chinese success of the last decade, in Wang’s opinion, “this period has not raised a mature, worldly, influential and contemporary Chinese architecture team. [Their] force is dispersed and scattered.”

Yu Ting, a Shanghai architect, and Sun Jiwei, head of Jiading district, had their own views. Yu pointed out that procedures and approvals beyond the ability of architects have always been needed in China. Yu thought that, for most of the time, it is enough that an architect carefully finish the task.

Sun disagreed, stating that architects had a different duty. “They must learn how to examine their own problems,” Sun said. “As long as the architect really has his own personal pursuits and ideals, the government will always need and support them.

“Not just something unconventional,” he further explained. “But [someone who] can really supply good, especially environmental friendly, designs with limited resources – not very avant-garde or conceptual – but requiring a large amount of human and financial resources.”

As Wang said at the very beginning, the past 10 years may have been brilliant for Chinese architecture but have also produced the most problems. These are ones not only architects, but also everyone involved in Chinese architecture, need to think about and consider deeply.

Source Global Times
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The American Institute of Architects select the 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects

Projects showcase excellence in sustainable design principles and reduced energy consumption

Photo credit: Casey Dunn

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The projects will be honored at the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition in New Orleans.

The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program, now in its 15th year, is the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.

The 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects jury includes: Joshua W. Aidlin, AIA, Aidlin Darling Design; Mary Guzowski, University of Minnesota School of Architecture; Kevin Kampschroer, General Services Administration, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings; Mary Ann Lazarus, AIA LEED AP, HOK; Jennifer Sanguinetti, P.E. LEED AP, Smart Buildings & Energy Management, BC Housing; and Lauren Yarmuth, LEED AP, YRG New York.

Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

This urban infill, mixed-use, market-rate housing project was designed to incorporate green design as a way of marketing a green lifestyle. The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy. Together with high-efficiency LED and electric lighting, photo and occupancy sensors, and natural daylighting – energy use was minimized. 100% of the total regularly occupied building area is day lit and can be ventilated with operable windows. A combination of cool roof covered in solar panels, green roof, and blown-in cellulose insulation complete an efficient building shell exceeding California Title 24 by 47%.

First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, WI
The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.

The 20,000-square-foot addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark Meeting House is approximately 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. The new building design features recycled-content and locally-sourced materials. CO2 sensors trigger a ventilation system that provide energy savings when spaces are unoccupied. 91% of regularly occupied areas are daylit though Individual lighting controls are contained in all building areas. The addition nearly doubles the building footprint but a vegetated roof and a reduction in parking spaces actually increases the percentage of pervious vegetated surface on the property.

Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS
BNIM Architects

Following the devastating tornado that destroyed their town and schools, USD 422 chose a bold strategy to combine their schools into a single K-12 facility that would align with the town’s sustainable comprehensive master plan. The facilities design optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation in all classrooms, which increases student academic performance/potential and focus. The site and building design reduce the urban heat island effect on Greensburg through open area allocation and diverse landscaping. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine provides a portion of the electricity needs while the remaining power is generated at the wind farm located outside of town.

High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, CA
Studio E Architects

This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 with an approach rooted in project-based learning uses a building management system which integrates a weather station, and monitors and controls the lighting and mechanical systems of the facilities, in addition to the irrigation and domestic water systems. This optimizes thermal comfort, indoor air quality, lighting levels, and conserves energy and water. The facilities reflect the school’s guiding principles of personalization, adult-world connection, and common intellectual mission. These principles permeate every aspect of life at HTH: the small school and class sizes, the openness and transparency, sustainable design attributes, and showcasing of student work in-progress.

LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

The adaptive reuse of a 1950’s built warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building to provide a multi-functional office space for the staff of 62. 88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse were recycled and used in the new design. In order to allow for the most engaging open office environment, the team replaced the roof’s center bays with north facing clerestory windows that harvest ample diffused daylight for the core workspace. No toxic chemicals are used in or around the building in accordance with green housekeeping and landscape procedures adopted by the Foundation. Achieving LEED Gold certification, the project reflects the LiveStrong mission “to inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, WA
The Miller | Hull Partnership

While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Olympia. Different strategies were utilized to control solar heat gain, improve the energy performance of the building, and introduce daylight and provide views. Methane generated from the plant’s waste treatment process is used in a cogeneration plant to generate electricity and heat. The heat is used directly in the building through a low temperature water loop connected to water source heat pumps, thus eliminating the need for a boiler, cooling tower, or geothermal field.

OS House, Racine, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Occupying a narrow infill lot in an old city neighborhood at the edge of Lake Michigan, this LEED Platinum home demonstrates how a small residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new urban constituent. The local climate, with its very cold winters and hot, humid summers, required a careful mix of active and passive design strategies to ensure proper interior conditioning. Taking advantage of the lake breeze and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms were created to reduce the house’s depth, allowing for maximum natural cross-ventilation and daylight to wash the inside. The house features a compact structured plumbing system with low-flow fixtures throughout and an on-demand hot water circulating pump, significantly reducing water consumption.

Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO
RNL Design

With the goal of creating the largest commercial net-zero energy structure in the country, the building is meant to serve as a blueprint for a net-zero energy future and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy and net-zero energy performance. NREL and Department of Energy’s goal is to transform innovative research in renewable energy and energy efficiency into market-viable technologies and practices. Many of the integrated passive design strategies such as daylighting and natural ventilation strongly support both energy and human performance. An open office plan resulted in a higher density workplace reducing the building footprint per person.

Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, CA
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

This mixed-use project provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The density of the project is 258 dwelling units/acre, which exceeds the average density of the Manhattan borough of New York City by more than 10%. The building is located in a transit-oriented location with access to community resources and services, providing a healthy living environment for residents and using resources efficiently. Based on California Title 24-2005 published by USGBC on this building is nearly 50% more efficient than a conventionally designed structure of this type.

Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British Columbia
Design Architect: LMN Architects, Prime Architects: DA/MCM

As the world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, this project is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment, embellishing their inter-relationships through architectural form and materiality. The living roof, at 6 acres it is the largest in Canada, hosting some 400,000 indigenous plants. Free cooling economizers can provide cooling for most of the busy seasons for the convention centre. The heating and cooling is provided by very high efficiency, sea water heat pumps powered by renewable hydro electricity. The interior is fitted throughout with CO2, VOC, and humidity sensors, which can be monitored in conjunction with airflow, temperature, and lighting controls to optimize air quality on a room-by-room basis.

Visit www.aia.org.

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Rafael Viñoly Architects The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building

UCSF, San Francisco, California

A beautifully sinuous, serpentine building that makes use of every foot of available space.

The Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building is designed to foster intensive collaboration and a cross-pollination of ideas among scientists representing a broad spectrum of labs and disciplines. Located on a steeply sloping urban hillside, the building presented the design team a unique challenge: executing a horizontal structure on an uneven site.

The main floor functions as one continuous laboratory divided into four split levels, each stepping down a half-story as the building descends the forested hillside slope, and each level is topped by an office cluster and a grass roof with wildflowers and plants. Exterior ramps and stairs, taking advantage of the temperate climate, provide continuous circulation between all levels, and the facility connects to three nearby research buildings and UCSF Medical Center via a pedestrian bridge.

To further promote collaboration, the laboratories occupy a horizontal open-floor plan, with a flexible, custom-designed casework system that enables the rapid reconfiguration of the research program. Abundant south-facing glazing fills the open laboratories and offices with natural light and views of the wooded slope of Mount Sutro nearby.

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Campus Shuffle in Greenwich Village

New York University to spread over two million square feet around I’M Pei’s Silver Towers site.

Aerial View Of NYU’s Expansion Plans With The Silver Towers On The Left.  Courtesy NYU

On March 16, NYU announced updates for their latest expansion plan, part of NYU 2031, that seemed to say the University had heard the public’s criticism and was ready to be a nicer neighbor. Previously, the school proposed a 400-foot tower on the Silver Towers site, where three concrete towers designed by I. M. Pei and completed in 1966 currently stand; two are owned by NYU while the third is a is a middle-income cooperative. In the new rendition, the proposed fourth Silver Tower is gone. This hotel/residence raised an outcry before being scrapped in November and has now been replaced in part by something called the Morton Williams tower, a 14-story building structure for the site on the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place currently occupied by a Morton Williams supermarket. This will be a two-tiered building with a seven-story public NYC school below and seven stories of dorms above.

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Obama appoints Schlossberg to federal arts panel [that oversees architecture]

President Barack Obama has appointed Edwin Schlossberg, an interactive media designer and husband of Caroline Kennedy, to serve on a federal panel that helps oversee the architecture and design of the nation’s capital.

The White House announced the appointment Tuesday night for the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts among other diplomatic and cultural posts. Schlossberg has a design firm in New York.

Members of the arts panel play a key role in shaping Washington architecture, including the design of new memorials or museums added to the National Mall or other parts of the city. Seven commissioners appointed by the president serve four-year terms without compensation.

Past members have included architects, landscape architects and artists, including Daniel Chester French who sculpted the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.

Hat tip Associated Press

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The Better Way to Know if a Building Is Green

An exhibit at the American Institute of Architects headquarters shows off the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system

The architecture firm Farr Associates, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the U.S. Green Building Council have produced a fantastic exhibit on how to create green neighborhoods. It opened in Chicago last year and is now on display at the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington.

This carries some symbolism. When it comes to sustainable communities, the architecture profession has been both hero and villain. It has been a hero because many of the early (and continuing) leaders of smart growth and sustainability in our built environment have been architects, from William McDonough to Peter Calthorpe, from Andres Duany to David Dixon. Frankly, in my opinion, architects were way ahead of the environmental community in forging solutions to sprawl. And it’s a good thing that they were, because they gave us environmentalists something positive to advocate.

Continue with article via The Atlantic

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