Sustainability + Functionality with William McDonough

What a remarkable 15 minutes of oratory from William McDonough this morning at Construct Canada's Round Table on Sustainability and Functionality. One cannot report on such a tour de force, but can only quote some of the zingers:

"Nicholas Pevsner said that a bicycle shed is a building; a cathedral is architecture. I am not interested in efficiency or sustainability for its own sake, it is not an end in itself."

"LEED is a checklist for people who don't want to think you get points for using recycled carpet made from PVC. PVC leads to dioxin and should be banned, but you get points for it.""Just using natural materials is not the answer- if we all wear Birkenstocks and organic cotton the world will run out of cork and fresh water"

"Climate change and the carbon problem are the issue and everything else is noise. Soon we will be toast; as more carbon gets into the ocean it will start dissolving the coral reefs and we will destroy the bottom of the food chain, and then we are jelly in the toast"

(when we do offices) "we design a life support system for people who work, not a work support system for people who don't have a life"

"to get through this we need thought and humility, two words that you don't often find together in architects"

Fred Koetter of Boston's Koetter Kim and Associates described projects in Seoul and Toronto, and Siamak Hariri of Toronto's Hariri Pontarini phoned in a few slides but Bill stole the show.

The moderator, Toronto Globe and Mail architecture critic Lisa Rochon, asked for questions but the typical Toronto audience would rather make speeches than listen to answers, so she had to field them herself: "In the face of all this sprawl and disaster how do you find the energy to continue?

BM: "Designers are inherently optimistic. Ultimately we are just cosmic dust-all you can do is wake up every morning and try to make the world a better place"

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