This Place Matters

May is Historic Preservation Month and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is currently running a national social media campaign that encourages people to celebrate and share the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities. The Trust is encouraging individuals to post pictures of meaningful place on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. using the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters.

Through this effort, the Trust hopes to encourage and inspire an ongoing dialogue about the importance of place and preservation in all of our lives. They plan to spotlight their favorites at  @SavingPlaces on Instagram and Twitter. They have even created a toolkit for anyone interested in creating a campaign to save an individual's favorite places.

Earth Day 2017

April 22 is Earth Day, the annual effort to demonstrate support for environmental protection. The date was originally chosen (47 years ago) in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what the organizer conceived as an "environmental teach-in" for students. Today the event is global, and various sectors use the occasion to mark their commitment to a healthy planet - including architects!

Thanks to the work of organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council, the AIA and others, building owners and architects are finding ways to design, build, restore and maintain structures that allow people, communities, and our planet to thrive. Today seems like an appropriate time to share a portion of AIA's statement on sustainability:

What is sustainability? 

Sustainability is about positioning current and future generations for prosperity by reducing buildings’ impact on the environment, restoring our natural resources and creating safe and vibrant communities.  When architecture is sustainable, it performs to its highest design potential: producing not consuming; providing resilient structures and communities that withstand the onslaughts of both natural and man-made disasters; and fostering opportunities for health and well-being. 

Why is sustainability important?

Sustainability is a key element of the architecture profession’s approach to design in the 21st century as it tackles the compounding global challenges of resource availability, water quality and increasing pollution. It is part of an architect’s approach to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.  Community sustainability goals are fulfilled in large part by an architect’s ability to create practical solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and the pursuit of more connected, healthier communities.

To read more about the AIA's commitment to sustainability, click here. Of course, I'm happy to chat about the topic with you at any time.

Preservation Chicago Names City’s 7 Most Endangered Structures of 2017

Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago's Executive Director, presenting "The Chicago 7" Most Endangered List for 2017

Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago's Executive Director, presenting "The Chicago 7" Most Endangered List for 2017

Each year, Preservation Chicago compiles a list of what they consider to be the seven most endangered sites in the city. This year's roster, announced today, included Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center parkland; as well as Chicago's 20th Century public sculptures.

Other sites that made the list include:

  • The water cribs along the lakefront.
  • Blocks 11, 12, 13 of Altgeld Gardens on the South Side.
  • The Union Station Power House in the South Loop.
  • Madison-Pulaski commercial district in West Garfield Park.
  • Cornell Store and Flats in Greater Grand Crossing area

The Chicago Tribune ran the story with detail and photos. Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life by championing the city's historic built environment. This annual list is one of their many worthwhile efforts.

An Overlooked Legacy

February is Black History Month, an annual observance in the United States and Canada to honor the important accomplishments of black individuals in every area of endeavor. As the month gets underway, I wanted to share a story that was featured in FastCoDesign about the life and legacy of architect Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980).

He practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Barbara Stanwyck and others. He also designed many public and private buildings - including the famous Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.

The articles says that Williams designed over 2,000 buildings during his career. While he was known for his Hollywood mansions, he also designed affordable housing, conceptual transportation systems, experimental structural systems, and more. "Expensive homes are my business and social housing is my hobby," Williams once said

This year, Williams was posthumously honored with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal. “Our profession desperately needs more architects like Paul Williams,” wrote William J. Bates, FAIA, in his support of William’s nomination for the AIA Gold Medal. “His pioneering career has encouraged others to cross a chasm of historic biases. I can’t think of another architect whose work embodies the spirit of the Gold Medal better. His recognition demonstrates a significant shift in the equity for the profession and the institute.” The article by Diana Budds is worth your time and may be found here.

Where Architects Stand: A Statement Of Values

As our nation marks another Presidential inauguration and debates continue about collective values, I thought it might be helpful to share a statement from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on the values held by our industry.

It begins by declaring "The AIA works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare, as it has done for 160 years. Each day AIA members across the country and throughout the world create the places where people live and learn, work, and play. We design hospitals that heal us and houses of worship that sustain us. We create next generation energy-saving buildings to make our communities healthier and safer."

The statement goes on to outline where AIA stands - today and everyday:

  • We stand for equity and human rights

  • We stand for architecture that strengthens our communities

  • We stand for a sustainable future

  • We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change

  • We stand for economic opportunity

  • We stand for investing in the future

You may read the statement in full, here. As a member of AIA, my work and my approach to every project reflects these values. I stand with members across the country who are committed to focus the power of design on solving the challenges facing our nation.