The A+D Museum in Los Angeles recently hosted a panel discussion for their new sci-fi inspired “SOUPERgreen” exhibit. The architects involved wanted to challenge conventional sustainable design trends by adopting an aggressively technological approach to LA’s urban landscape. The featured designs were futuristic visions of how green design can radically transform a user’s experience through city infrastructure, and nature itself. The result is a “souped up” vision for green development where technological innovation is embraced as an extension of the earth’s natural cycles and human imagination.
The discussion provided fascinating insights into the architects’ visions, their critiques of the current state of green design, and the future direction of sustainable architecture. The panelists included ARUP principal Erin McConahey, David Hertz of Studio of Environmental Architecture, Lance Williams of the USGBC, Wes Jones of Jones Partners, Doug Jackson of Doug Jackson Design Office, Randolph Ruiz of AAA Architecture, and Steven Purvis of APLSD design. Topics raised by the panelists and audience ranged from how to push beyond the limits of prescriptive green architecture (which lead to some heated discussion about the LEED rating system), to how the commodification of the housing market estranges homeowners from greater responsibility to their community’s environment. The panelists were passionate, and wildly intelligent individuals whose experience on the frontier of green design made for an engaging, and thought provoking discussion.
Doug Jackson kicked off the night by explaining that the goal of the exhibit wasn’t to create a “technicality-based architectural vision,” but rather to bring the viewers into an imagined reality that expands conceptions of architectural function and aesthetic. David Hertz emphasized that hiding or discreetly integrating the green components of a building is a timid architectural stance, and that these materials should be embraced and even dictate the design itself. Erin McConahey added that the function of exposed building mechanics should be “immediately understood” by viewers. This exaggerated showcasing of green technology would serve as a catalyst in the process of encouraging the spread of sustainable design. Wes Jones likened the concept of the exhibit to a “souped-up hotrod,” where existing components of urban architecture and infrastructure are repurposed to better serve the user and the surrounding environment.