Looking Forward: Architecture in a Post COVID-19 World

In an effort to give you a break from the negative news cycle, we want to look forward toward the future and the many possibilities it brings for architects.

In recent weeks, the Moving Forward Act has made its way through Congress. Late last month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced their support of the bill. AIA President Jane Frederick said “Passing the Moving Forward Act is a necessary next step that we must take as a nation in order to deliver the opportunities that American workers—including architects—desperately need.”

The proposal allocates billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements such as:

  • The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which would provide funding for improvements to school infrastructure, especially those in high-poverty areas, and upgrading child-care facilities.
  • Encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings through the temporary increase of the Historic Tax Credit
  • Improve affordable housing infrastructure by creating and preserving 1.8 million affordable homes
  • Establish a new Neighborhood Investment tax credit that would subsidize certain development costs to encourage the rehabilitation of vacant homes or construction of new homes in distressed areas

As architects, you’re responsible for much more than just designing safe and beautiful structures; your work can make a positive difference in communities around the country. The schools you help build or renovate (especially in lower income areas) bring opportunities for success that weren’t possible before. Working to increase affordable housing works toward lowering homeless rates and gives families a sense of security.

When it comes time to rebuild the nation (financially and literally), we are proud to help architects like you make positive changes in your local community.

Is it almost time to renew your license?

The following states have continuing education deadlines approaching:

7/31/20 - WI

8/31/20 - MA

10/31/20 - MI

11/31/20 - IL

12/31/20 - AL, AR, DE, FL, KY, LA, MO, MT, NC, NE (L-Z), NM, NV, OH, OR, TX, UT, WV, WY



Harvard Programs And Snøhetta Design HouseZero For Sustainable Architecture

The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) completed HouseZero, a sustainable house project designed by the architecture firm Snøhetta, that produces more energy over its life cycle than it consumes.

This renovated structure was retrofitted in a pre-1940s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has hundreds of sensors to continually monitor energy performance and research data for sustainable architecture.

According to Inhabitat.com, the goal of this structure is to meet “zero-energy targets for heating and cooling, use zero electric lighting during the day, produce zero carbon emissions, and operate with 100% natural ventilation.”

HouseZero will work as a prototype and research tool for an energy-positive and efficient architecture. “By creating both a prototype and an infrastructure for long-term research, we hope to raise interest in ultra-efficient retrofits and inspire substantial shifts in the design and operating of buildings,” said Ali Malkawi, the founding director of CGBC.



AIA President Issues Call To Action Letter On Climate Change

AIA President Carl Elefante released a call to action letter to confront climate change. The letter opens with a direct message surmising the AIA's stance on global warming: “As an association founded to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the AIA has a responsibility to speak out against climate change and to promote emissions reductions in the building sector.”

In Elefante’s statement, he lists multiple reports from the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4)  and two recent United Nations reports (IPCC Report and 2018 Emissions Gap Report) to make it clear that the science is irrefutable. The earth is warming faster than anticipated and the current international community needs to do more.

Elefante calls on architects to use their design knowledge to reduce building emissions and to help explain the challenge to a wide audience.




Future Green Architecture Projects

Architects are becoming more environmentally-conscious, focusing on being more ecologically responsible and sustainable. It can be a challenge creating buildings that are aesthetically pleasing while having the lowest possible energy consumption and carbon emission production. Here are some cities around the world that have interesting green sustainable architectural projects coming out:

The Green Hill, Shanghai

Thomas Heatherwick is leading an architectural project in Shanghai that will cover 300,000 square meters. When finished, the building will house schools, residences, retail units, offices and a hotel within its nine floors and three-story basement. According to Medium.comit will have 400 terraces, many sets with plant beds and trees to encourage outdoor use.

The Vertical Forest, Paris

The Italian architect Stefano Boeri aims to make a vertical forest with Forêt Blanche—a 54-meter tower with stacked wood and glass cubes with planted edges. It will host residential apartments on the higher floors and offices/commercial services on the lower parts of the building. It will be covered by 2000 trees, shrubs, and plants.

The Floating University, Dhaka

Woha Architects has plans to build an innovative and sustainable campus that demonstrates the integration of the region’s nature and architecture.  The design strategy is to create two distinct programmatic strata by floating it above the lake and revealing a campus park below. This way it minimizes the building’s footprint over the lake and maximizes space.

Re-greening Downtown Area, Barcelona

The city plans to create several micro-projects that merge into green inner-city corridors by moving entire streets underground banning cars from the center and create the space for new parks. The city has already proved its commitment to the environment and is trying to get the community involved by offering cash prizes for sustainable ideas from citizens.




Tackling Climate Change Through LEED Certification

The science community understands that the Earth is warming. Climate change is affecting sea-levels and causing more extreme weather. According to USA Today, the USA had 3 costliest natural disasters in 2018- California fire in November alone cost an estimated $16.5 billion.

The shifting climate changes the way leaders and architects think about the built environment. There are international commitments such as the Paris Agreement and the Global Covenant of Mayors that brought leaders together to act on sustainability. Leaders in U.S. states and city levels are also planning for climate impact reduction and long-term resilience.

Buildings represent 41% of the total U.S. energy output and there are opportunities to improve structures and reduce carbon emissions through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

LEED uses specific credit-based strategies and strict standards to guide the building process in adding as little as possible to greenhouse gas emissions, water, and energy use. Of the 100 total points in LEED v4, it considers 35 reward climate change mitigation strategies including credits in:

  • Greenhouse gas emission reduction
  • Sustainable site location
  • Access to public transportation
  • Water use
  • Energy performance
  • Carbon offsets
  • Life cycle reductions