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Big and Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century
By David Gissen

April 14, 2003 /
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The first book to examine the sustainable skyscraper, its history, the technologies that make it possible, and its role in the future of urban development.

Big & Green is a pioneering and definitive exploration of the transformative power of sustainable design. Focusing on big buildings, where the challenges as well as the benefits are greatest, Big & Green shows how the concept of sustainability has the potential to yield a more vibrant, exciting architecture for the future.

The fifty projects documented, designed by leading architects around the world, recognize that energy must be used wisely and conserved. They balance a respect for the natural world with the demand for new buildings that provide healthful environments that meet our needs for economic growth.

Photo-2.jpgPhoto: arcspace
Richard Rogers Partnership
Daimler Chrysler, Potsdamer Platz

Ecology conscious buildings will change modern architecture more radically than perhaps any movement we have seen since the beginning of the modern movement. The problem is that there are powerful forces trying to strip eco-building of any real value./Richard Rogers

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Taking advantage of the landscape the Eden Project, by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, recycles rain and ground water for irrigation.

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For Norman Foster's newly completed Swiss Re Headquarters fresh air is drawn in at each floor through slots in the cladding, and exhaust air is vented to the outside or recycled to provide heat to the building.

Photo-5.jpgThe Condé Nast

All of the Condé Nast (Four Times Square) building's system and construction technologies were evaluated for their environmental sensitivity, their effect on occupant health, and their ability to reduce energy consumption, making this the largest building in the United States to establish standards for energy conservation, indoor air quality, recycling systems, and sustainable manufacturing processes.

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T.R. Hamzah & Yeang
T.R. Hamzah & Yeang
Tech-Linx Technology Park

I am searching for an ecological aesthetic, but in the final analysis it is the building's systemic aspects that are most important. My current ideas are based on our work on biomimesis (designing or learning by imitating nature) and ecomimesis (designing using analogies of ecosystems and ecology). I am working on designing buildings that function as urban ecosystems./Ken Yeang

Some architects and engineers concerned with environmental sensitivity are now using a variety of strategies to limit the environmental impact of building construction.

Photo-7.jpgPhoto: Richard Davies

In Michael Hopkins and Partners design for the new Parliamentary Building a central courtyard provides a public space and a focal point for the surrounding offices, which are naturally lit and were built using renewable materials.

Photo-8.jpgImage courtesy FTL Design Engineering Studio

FTL Design Engineering Studio developed the Recyclable Portable Skyscraper. The 12 story building, which can be erected in two weeks and requires no foundation, uses a variety of technologies available at most construction sites - portable bathrooms, scaffolding, portable elevators.

Photo-9.jpgPhoto: Michael Safdie

When Moshe Safdie designed Habitat he created a housing system based on flexible modules, manufactured off site, which could be assembled in different configurations based on local conditions.

The Esplanade Condominium apartments in Cambridge demonstrate how the concept can be realized in a dense setting, using contemporary construction methods.

We required the contractors to recycle the construction debris. They fought us because it was a lot of work, but then they realized that they could salvage the debris and make money. About 67 percent of the construction material was salvaged./Fox & Fowle Architects

The book also includes a preface by architect and green design advocate William McDonough, a series of essays that track the history and development of new sustainable building technologies and a glossary of green design terms as well as interviews with Richard Rogers, Kenneth Yeang and the partners of Fox and Fowle.

David Gissen is associate curator at the National Building Museum. He has taught at the American University,Yale University, and the University of Virginia School of Architecture. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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