A blog about universal and accessible design

Monday, August 16, 2010

what is good architecture?

A couple of interesting links...

First, Paul Goldberger and Richard Cook discuss sustainable architecture for The New Yorker. Cook is a principal in Cook & Fox, designers of the new Bank of America Tower, the largest building ever to receive LEED Platinum certification (the highest energy performance standard).

they discuss a lot of things - but I find the beginning, when they discuss the "next levels" of green building, particularly notable. Cook talks about how better energy performance, materials use, etc will cease being "green" and start being the "normative standard." But the bigger challenge, he says, is for buildings to be regenerative, to improve quality of life. This part might represent a trade-off - e.g. that creating the best possible air quality requires energy-expending filtration systems. Of course, he doesn't (can't) touch on the really big conundrum - that these supposedly most-humanistic-possible buildings are giant office towers, but this is true for a long history of making spaces more comfortable - ergonomics creates safer workplaces, better productivity, and so on.

Another issue Goldberger and Cook raise is about the LEED standard itself - many have criticized it because it does not necessarily reward innovative design, but rather to-the-letter technical performance. There are so many comparisons to ADA standards there - likewise, some architects have argued that the ADA is not necessarily equipped to evaluate a broader definition of Universal Design, vs. a rigid conception of access (though frankly, I would like to see a building or feature that really offers excellent accessibility and is not ADA compliant). It would be great to see a discussion of sustainability - as a design approach, not a technical standard - that incorporates accessibility as well - as a part of the human health considerations that go into these extremely high-design, high-cost sites like the Bank of America building. As Cook describes, he sees a sustainable approach as leading to ways of making an office building "feel fundamentally different" - for me, this point certainly raises a host of issues about what we expect of design, in terms of environment, experience, comfort, health, and otherwise.

Another quick link - Metropolis points us to OpenBuildings, a "crowdsourced" architecture info/criticism site. On this "mega-resource," Metropolis reports, "readers can submit buildings to the site and upload images, additional information, or even their own opinions." So far it looks like most buildings just have excerpts from either Wikipedia or a more official architecture review source. But - what possibilities for a user-level impression of these sites! It would be so great to see this forum used for accessibility reviews, and other insights that only members of the "crowd" can point out. I think I'll download the app to see what there is around my city..

No comments: