© William McDonough
His book, Cradle to Cradle, was an earth-shaker. His accomplishments, such as the world’s largest living roof (on a Ford Motor plant, no less), are epic. And his honors range from the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development to Esquire’s Big Thinker of the Year. Contemporaneous with his unrivaled fame in the world of green architecture, William McDonough is also one of its most controversial characters, taking barbs for his projects, his chemistry, and his personality. In our interview, the legendary architect walks us through two newly-built projects: Park 2020 in the Netherlands, and NASA’s renewably-powered terrestrial space station. He also explains the Cradle to Cradle product certification system (rebuffing critics who call it a black box), and reflects on the failed and tendentious housing development in Huangbaiyu, China.