TED | Talks | Bill Strickland: Rebuilding America, one slide show at a time (video)

7 02 2008

When you have 35 minutes to be inspired, please watch this “box of slides” with Bill Strickland. As I listened to his presentation, I felt invited to dream bigger and accomplish more than I’ve ever believed possible. The sheer scale and magnitude of impact this man has had – on the people in his school, on his funders, on his business partners, and on his friends in every town – convinces me I can do more with my own life too.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.ted.com posted with vodpod


TED | Talks | William McDonough: The wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle (video)

31 01 2008

I live just across town from William McDonough, but this is as close as I’ve seen him. He’s the creator and advocate of Cradle to Cradle design – a design methodology which he describes in application to product design, material selection, and even urban planning in China.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.ted.com

Building green

30 05 2007

Originally published June 2, 2006.

I visited Manhattan for the first time in several years over the Memorial Day weekend, and I kept my eyes peeled for a particular new architectural marvel among the city skyline.  Walking a few blocks north from Times Square on Broadway, my eyes caught the unmistakeable angular facade of the new Hearst Magazine Building, the first building to win LEED Gold certification in New York city (where they said it couldn’t be done).

The stunning structure of diagonal steel grids (no horizontal beams are used) emerges from the original Hearst structure at street level, creating a stunning juxtaposition of form and material.  Each triangular section is four stories high, creating a powerful sense of scale.

Some quick research on the building’s website, which has an excellent photo gallery and video tour, found these quick stats:

The “innovative ‘diagrid’ system (a word contraction of diagonal grid) that creates a series of four-story triangles on the fa�ade. No horizontal steel beams are being used, which is a first for North American office towers. In addition to giving the tower a bold architectural distinctiveness, it is providing Hearst with superior structural efficiency. As a result, Hearst eliminated the need for approximately 2,000 tons of steel, a 20 percent savings over a typical office building.”

“In addition, Hearst is using high efficiency heating and air-conditioning equipment that will utilize outside air for cooling and ventilation for 75 percent of the year, as well as Energy Star appliances. These and other energy-saving features are expected to increase energy efficiency by 22 percent compared to a standard office building. This is a welcome innovation in New York City, where rapidly growing electricity demand is threatening to overwhelm the local power supply.”

My green buildilng interest was further titillated by a full feature article in the current Harvard Business Review, Building the Green Way (free) – well worth the read on your train ride home!  Should the link ever fail, you can download the full article in PDF as well:


Signs of the Apocalypse: Real Estate in Greenwich

30 05 2007

Originally published Marc h15, 2006.

Greenwich, CT, Joseph Jacobs recently purchased an 11 acre parcel of land for $5.5 million dollars (yup, $500,000/acre � before any building).  His plan: to build a custom residence with nearly 39,000 square feet of living space (not including the 1,100 sq. ft. pool house), with a frontal building span of 220 feet (as in, the length of a good football drive to get into field goal range).  See artist rendering below (from the New York Times).  But that�s not necessarily the sign of the Apocalypse�
You see, the prospect of such a large, prominently displayed residence (there is a distinct lack of protective foliage surrounding the proposed estate) had area residents in a furor � despite the fact that they themselves own properties well in excess of 10,000 square feet.So, after the story was published in the New York Times, Mr. Jacobs hired a PR consultant to advise him on the situation.  The pair released a statement saying Mr. Jacobs had abandoned his plans to build on the site (at least for the time being), apparently relieving the neighbors of their anxiety.So now comes the kicker.  Mr. Jacobs, stranded with his $5.5 million patch of dirt, has decided to plop down another $7-9 million for a nearby patch of dirt � this time with a residence of a meager 11,000 sq. ft. already constructed on site.His new plan: to live in the 11,000 sq. ft. residence to tide him over till he can build his dream house (or, if you like, small village) on the original site.  So, if I have this right, the man just strategically downsized to a $7 million, 11,000 square foot residence after dropping $5.5 million on a patch of Earth?  Now I�m not complaining, but for a ready comparison: I couldn�t afford to buy a 900 sq. ft. condo within driving distance; this man will probably have a 900 square foot golf simulator in his own house to measure his �driving distance��

See original stories in the New York Times:

Too Big is Too Bad – Mansion Plan Scuttled

Putting ‘Too Big’ to the Test