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COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

  • 1.  COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

    Posted 8 days ago

    A Quiet Revolution: The Origins of Sustainable Design in the United States. On the 30th anniversary of the AIA Committee on the Environment, Lance Hosey reflects on the pioneers who took up the cause of sustainability when few others would.

    https://www.metropolismag.com/sustainability/origins-of-sustainable-design/ @AIANational

     

    "Throughout its history, COTE has continued to anticipate where the industry should go. The best way to honor its own legacy is to stay focused on a single question: What overlooked issues today will become essential for designers a generation from now?"

    (this piece headlines the March issue of COTE news, due out soon)



    ------------------------------
    Kira Gould
    Principal
    Kira Gould CONNECT
    Oakland CA
    ------------------------------
    Live Course: Business Continuity Planning. March 31 at 12:30 ET. Free on AIAU.


  • 2.  RE: COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks, Kira, for passing along Lance Hosey’s piece. That was indeed an important moment in the development of the sustainable design movement in this country. It shows what a powerful impact a few passionate individuals coming together around a set of shared values can have.

    I would, though, like to take issue with his use of the word “origins”. To me that suggests that these ideas and principles suddenly emerged for the first time without antecedents in earlier eras. Certainly they were a necessary and admirable response to the values and amnesia of the preceding Reagan era as Hosey points out. But I’d suggest they drew much of their inspiration from the work of earlier generations of architects practicing and writing in the nineteen sixties, seventies and early eighties - and indeed to a few lone voices from as far back as the fifties (Victor Olgyay comes to mind).

    By way of example, in December 1978, my Cornell colleague, Ralph Crump and I organized a symposium titled “The Design Connection: Energy and Technology in Architecture” and co-edited a follow-up book with the same title (Van Nostrand Reinhold,1981). It brought together Richard Stein, Ralph Erskine, Ralph Knowles, Sim Van der Ryn, Cesar Pelli and James Marston Fitch. The term “sustainability “ was not mentioned once, yet each in his own way described ideas that have since been subsumed under that word. And the practice work they showed exemplified sustainability principles: Stein originated the concept of embodied energy; Knowles crafted a sun rights zoning code for cities; Van de Ryn demonstrated how state office facilities could be built in an environmentally conscious way; Erskine illustrated how architecture might respond to an extreme cold climate condition.

    There were many other pioneers from those times, many well known today, others forgotten. A few at random: John and Nancy Todd of New Alchemy fame in the late sixties and since; GZ Brown and John Reynolds, longtime writers and teaching luminaries at the University of Oregon; Ed Mazria, author in 1979 of the “The Passive Solar Energy Book” and founder of the “Architecture 2030” movement; the list goes on.

    Certainly AIA’s COTE group helped mightily to raise the stakes to encompass the full range of environmental challenges that today threaten our world. But let’s also acknowledge those who got the profession thinking about the issues earlier amidst much skepticism not only from the general public but from also from so many of their professional peers.

    Here’s to many more years of successful COTE advocacy!

    Best

    Martin

    Martin J. Harms, Ph.D, FAIA, RIBA
    Dean Emeritus Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo

    Sent from my iPad


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  • 3.  RE: COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

    Posted 2 days ago
    I would add Ian McHarg to this list.

    Sent from my iPad


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  • 4.  RE: COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

    Posted 2 days ago
    I agree Mike.  While we're talking Philadelphia, I'd also add Susan Maxman.

    Sent from my iPad



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  • 5.  RE: COTE & the origins of sustainable design in the US

    Posted 2 days ago
    Edited by Kira Gould 2 days ago
      |   view attached
    Thank you for these responses to my post of Lance's article.
     
    I absolutely agree that sustainable design's roots go waaaay back to a number of leaders, many of whom you cite. And some of these, were mentioned in an older "history of COTE" that I wrote documenting the years from 1990 to 2009, which gives credit to the energy and architecture work of the 1970s and what came before. I'm attaching that here; we hope to update that this year, and it may be appropriate to expand the references to earlier efforts. There is no doubt that many people cite many of those you have mentioned as key influences.
     
    But this article really focuses on the history of sustainable design organizations, not sustainable design. In fact, Lance has tuned the article to clarify this focus.

    There is a useful framework in this article that Lance wrote about green building for Greenbiz: https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/09/04/witness-decline-green-buildingCOTE really represents Stage 3: Formalization.
    Thank you for reading the piece and responding thoughtfully. This makes me think that a comprehensive history of all the brilliant threads of design thinking (solar, preservation, and many more) that have flowed into what we tend to call "sustainable design" would be an interesting endeavor.  
    --



    Attachment(s)

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