This blog is dedicated to advancing the ideas of sustainable architecture and urban design. The idea is to share the research and experience we are engaged in as an architecture and urban design office, as well as provide a platform for accelerating the dialogue of how to best achieve higher levels of design and building performance.
Since having been involved in the green building industry since the mid 1990′s, I have been working to understand and implement better practices and questioned the status quo methods of building and development. The slow pace by which the majority of the United States has reacted to calls to rethink our development patterns is especially distressing. We need to be more resourceful, smarter and sensitized to our environment and the impact we are having.
I grew up in a neighborhood where children could ride bikes or walk to the park, to friends’ houses and to many community amenities. And although my hometown was a densely populated and well established suburb of New York, there were many green places to explore, from the old orchards to the beaches and woods. When our family relocated to a suburb developed in the 1950′s around a golf course, I was unbelievably bored. My friends and I could no longer go to the downtown shopping district without a ride from parents. Spatially isolated, trapped and removed from a sense of the greater community, this post war suburb made me very aware of the community I had lost. Living in and continuing to create more “neighborhoods” that rely soley on cars for transportation is underserving our youth, elderly and handicapped populations, not to mention that it is simply not sustainable for many reasons that I will continue to elaborate on…
A new, interdisciplinary approach to design thinking is being advanced – Ecological Urbanism, tangentially related to the decades long Urban Ecology movement. We are facing a crisis of depleted resources and sense of place, and it is going to take more than the knowledge of planners and architects to get us out of it. Thus, I initiated the Ecological Urbanism Series in 2009 with the help of the Kansas City Design Center’s Vlad Krstic and staff from DA+UD. We have held a forum on the major challenges facing our Kansas City region with panelists including an economist, geoscientist, planner and architect to talk about water, air quality and the stresses on our existing infrastructure. We also held a panel discussion and documentary viewing of “Contested Streets” with local leaders, a public works director and landscape designers, followed by an interactive session with all attendees to define what greener “Complete Streets” would look like.
We hope to continue this work with a case study style design exercise for a specific site in Kansas City, Missouri’s downtown. Robert, my husband and I, are teaching a studio this semester based on ideas of Ecological Urbanism, at the University of Kansas. Working along side the KCDC students and with local municipal planners and stakeholders, as well as professionals, we hope to engange in re-envisioning what our post-industrial cities can become. More to come on this matter…
Our practice is also actively designing and building four, ground up, infill homes that we have the goal of achieving either LEED or NAHB Green Standard certification varying from Platinum to Silver levels. These homes are using various methods of building envelops; SIPS, advanced framing, the “perfect wall system” and Insulated Concrete Forms. All will be heated and cooled with a Ground Source heat pump and other high efficiency systems. We will profile these homes in a future post as well…so please keep tuned!