Tablets are revolutionizing how people interact with information. We can now walk around with libraries in our knapsacks and the touch screen interface has enabled us to bridge the physical-abstract divide. The universe is now pushed and prodded, and just as the universe is expanding, so is our access to digital information.
A new app by Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, called Ecological Urbanism, is the start of a deep dive into innovation research, with real prospects for finding urban sustainability treasure.
Our last post, The Preservationist Perspective, addressed a key issue we typically face regarding the value of mid-twentieth century modern buildings and their reuse. Here we examine the issue of owners and occupants.
To preserve their sizable real estate investments, to enhance the value of their properties, and to ensure that their occupants/tenants continue to lease their spaces, owners must maintain and operate their buildings to suit all these demands. This is a growing challenge for many owners and operators of mid-century modern structures. As the call for the demolition and replacement of these buildings heats up, the root animosity towards them may go deeper than aesthetics alone.
Henry Moss, Bruner/Cott principal and preservation expert, discusses the exterior of Gund Hall at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design with the client team.
As buildings age, even if maintained properly, they frequently become less acceptable in our culture of “the new.” Recent history is quick to go out of vogue. Styles change and historic design, even when it’s fairly new, is seen as antiquated in form and function. Often we begin to appreciate a particular style only with the passage of time. The same is not true of function. We expect more comfort in our environments today: consistent heating and cooling, better lighting, and convenient access. As occupancy standards become more stringent, building owners face a growing challenge from their tenants who demand such comforts in return for the rent they pay. And, if those occupants dislike “modern” materials, particularly concrete, they may become even more vocal about creature comforts.
As building owners face the rising costs of such out-of-the-ordinary maintenance as material failures of glass and concrete, they begin to ask, “Do I continue throwing good money after bad? Do I replace this structure?”
Spalling concrete, a readily apparent indicator of building deterioration, on a Josep Lluis Sert building at the Boston University School of Law.
Sustainability ratings systems are all the rage, with hundreds of versions out there addressing various aspects of building practices, industry standards, and beyond. But is this diffusion of good intentions really the most efficient way to “green” our world?
Two prominent creators of sustainable infrastructure rating systems have recently joined forces to capitalize on their joint expertise, avoid redundancy, and hopefully develop the most comprehensive sustainable infrastructure rating system available.
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), based in Washington, D.C., and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, launched the Envision™ Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System on April 3rd in D.C.. The new system’s goal is to create a holistic framework focusing on five key rating areas: Quality of Life, Resource Allocation, Natural World, Climate and Risk, and Leadership.