The G-List: Choosing the Best Green Buildings Of The Last 30 Years

mcdonough adam joseph lewis center photo

Adam Joseph Lewis Center, William McDonough + Partners Voted Greenest Building since 1980

When covering Vanity Fair's World Architecture Survey I asked "Where's The Green?" and wrote that there was a "profound disconnect between the architecture shown and the problems that architects have to solve today."

Lance Hosey, formerly a partner at William McDonough+ Partners and now a writer at Architect magazine, thought the same but didn't just whine, he organized his own survey, the G-list.

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California Academy of Sciences

Lance writes on Architect Magazine:

I asked 150 green building experts and advocates--including architects, engineers, educators, and critics from the U.S., the UK, Europe, and Asia--to name "the five most-important green buildings since 1980," using whatever criteria they liked. The first 52 responses (to mirror the VF survey) produced 121 projects, and the 18 that received more than a few votes each offer a glimpse at the canon of sustainable design. If Vanity Fair documented architecture's A-List, consider this the G-List.

The top green building since 1980, that got the most votes, was the Adam Joseph Lewis Center (Oberlin, Ohio), William McDonough + Partners, 2001. In second place, and also the top green building since 2000 was the California Academy of Sciences, Renzo Piano Workshop. (See Jaymi's tour of it here)

See the whole list here; not a Frank Gehry building in the bunch. In fact, there are buildings that are on both lists. Lance concludes:

Sustainability, it seems, is not much on the minds of the architectural elite. While green building has become increasingly popular over the past three decades, the gap between standards of design excellence and of environmental performance could be getting wider.

My favourite architectural writer, Susan S. Szenasy of Metropolis, has had a hard time with A-list architects lately, but concludes:

If our understanding of the built environment is to grow, and contribute to solving some of the most complex environmental and social problems of our time, the G-List and the A-List must start working together. Everyone else is learning to collaborate, to bring their expertise, art, and willpower to serve the greater good. Why can't architects do the same?

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