Geoff Manaugh

INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030

by , 05/03/11

ed mazria, 2010 imperative, global teach-in, climate change

Geoff: The 2010 Imperativeis a “global emergency teach-in” scheduled to occur in about three weeks’ time. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Ed

: The teach-in will happen on February 20th. It will be a live webcast from the New York Academy of Sciences, from 12-noon to 3:30. It will have four speakers: Dr. James Hansen of NASA will talk about the science and the implications of global warming, and the urgency for action. I’ll talk about the building sector and what we need to do – and why – and how education is a critical piece of this whole thing. Susan Szenasy will do the introductions, and talk about all the design disciplines. She’ll also moderate the panel at the end. And Chris Luebkeman will give a talk called “Doing Is Believing” – which is pretty interesting – and he’ll talk about Arup’s projects all over the world. That should take about an hour and a half.

Then it will be open to questions and answers – and general discussion – from people typing-in, live, from anywhere in the world. So it’s as participatory as we can get. We’ll also have a live audience of about 300-plus, made up of people from the nine New York City-area design schools.

Geoff: Have universities and institutions outside of New York signed up to participate?

Ed

: The teach-in has been supported by the ACSA, the AIA Committee on the Environment, the US Green Building Council, and a lot of other schools. We’ve received emails now – probably about 15,000 – from people saying that they’re going to log on. We’ve got schools that are going to be canceling classes that day and creating full-day events around the teach-in – so it’s very exciting. We’re getting responses from everywhere: Berkeley, Harvard, Cal-Poly-San Luis Obispo, UW-Milwaukee. 50 to 100 come in a day, including practitioners and architecture offices that are going to get their whole office to participate. Those offices will also get continuing education credits for their architects.

You know, you can give a lecture to 1000 people, or to 500 people, or to 300 people – but this way you’re talking to tens of thousands of people, in one day. It’s a really good way to use the technology to get the word out.

Geoff: Some of these changes are going to require a pretty major conceptual change, I think. You’re moving from an artistic or historical approach to architecture – where architecture is something of an expressive design medium – and you’re shifting toward an approach that treats the built environment as something whose effect is scientifically measurable. Ecologically speaking, a design can literally be good or bad, no matter what it looks like, or whether or not the client likes it. Do you see this as a possible issue down the road?

Ed

: I think you can incorporate both personal expression and aesthetics into ecological literacy. Ecological literacy just gives you another tool with which to design. Architecture is not just pure sculpture; it’s not just pure function; it’s not just pure performance – it’s all of those. And so what must be added and integrated into the design curriculum is this notion of ecological literacy. You cannot design anymore without being literate in this area – otherwise you’re doing more harm than good.

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6 Comments

  1. Patrick McGuinness October 26, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Given this challenge: “That the project be designed to engage the environment in a way that dramatically reduces or eliminates the need for fossil fuels.”

    There is one design that could answer that challenge fully and dramatically: Designing and building safe, non-GHG-emitting nuclear power plants.

    Nuclear power can make the entire electrical energy sector carbon-neutral and de-link total energy usage from global warming. Seventy-six percent of all electricity generated by US power plants goes to supply the Building Sector. Building 300 nuclear power plants would be enough to make that entire portion of our energy consumption non-fossil fuel based, and this is not an impractical goal, as it is merely bringing the US up to where France and Japan are in terms of use of nuclear power for electricity production.

  2. Nikos Karamesinis October 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Actually quite an informative article since I am on the beginning of a project which aims to give as a boost to develop a few houses in a settlement that has near zero or zero carbon footprint. Thank you for all the important information.

    Karamesinis Nikos
    DMU Leicester
    BArch

  3. Sustainable Sean January 29, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Absolutely AWESOME interview and article. Kudos to Mazria and you guys!

  4. Pink Robe January 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Excellent article! We’re meeting with an architect in a couple of days to talk about a reno of our home, and I’m definitely going to be talking to him about these topics.

  5. Geoff January 29, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Just a quick note: somehow, in posting this, all of the interview’s links disappeared! So you’re left with a bunch of fake links that go nowhere.

    However, we’ll be fixing that over the next few hours – so by late afternoon or so those should be fully functional.

    Sorry about any confusion, meanwhile -

  6. Nick Simpson January 29, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Haven’t had chance to read the whole article yet – having to head into Uni, where I’ll sit and read it right the way through – but this is EXACTLY what should be happening over there. What a brilliant guy! And to put it into context, we’ve just been told here in the UK that all housing must be carbon neutral within the next 10 years (and we’ve been one of the slowest of the bigger countries to adopt environmental legislation in Europe). So even with another long-term Republican government (please, please no…) there’ll be plenty of evidence by even 2020 to show that it’s easy to do and there’s no excuses for the government not to go with this.

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