New COTE Advisory Group Member: Kira Gould, Allied AIA
This month, we share the voice of the fourth of the four new COTE Advisory Group members for 2020, Kira Gould, Allied AIA. See past stories to learn about Julie Snow, FAIA; Billie Faircloth, AIA; and Billie Tsien, AIA.
Kira Gould is an Allied AIA member; she is a communications professional and principal of Kira Gould CONNECT, a consultancy that helps people and firms with storytelling and thought leadership. She worked in-house at William McDonough + Partners and Gould Evans, and before that as an editor at Metropolis. She co-authored, with Lance Hosey, Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design (Ecotone, 2007), and today co-hosts, with Lindsay Baker, the Design the Future podcast on Acuity’s Women in Sustainability platform.
Why did you seek to join COTE leadership now and what do you hope to do while on the Advisory Group?
I had the honor of serving as COTE chair in 2007 and have remained engaged since that time. I applied to the Advisory role again because I continue to believe that architects have a key role in climate action and climate justice, and I want to help shape that opportunity (and the role of COTE at 30 years of influence), as the AIA and the industry evolve. Climate crisis challenges and opportunities, for designers and for us all, are rooted in communications.
The AIA’s move to a practice transformation for climate action is significant. In that context, I am interested in 1) advancing innovation and accelerating progress on climate action and climate justice through design 2) clarifying COTE’s role as a champion of the leading edge; 3) empowering the COTE community; 4) inspiring architects to transform their practices and be visible and vocal leaders; and 5) collaborating with other groups -- such as the Centering Equity in Sustainable Building Sector and the Carbon Leadership Forum.
Where is the climate conversation now?
For years, many of us have talked about climate, systemic injustice, and other problems, as public health problems. But now, when we are experiencing the public health dimensions of a pandemic, we are getting a taste of what climate impact will feel like, including the inexorable nature of it.
This year of “upside down” seems disorienting, but I hope it could also become what COTE founder Bob Berkebile once anticipated, a year of perfect vision. While American individualism and exceptionalism seem to be bringing our democracy to its knees (and letting the virus go uncontained), there is also mutual aid and a clarity of vision about our weaknesses laid bare, about systemic injustice, and about the climate realities we face as a species. It will take a cultural change of heart and intense persistence toward innovation, but we could still reverse warming. The role of design has never been so clear.