Economic recession has wreaked havoc on the nation’s investment in retail and commercial office infrastructure. Community vibrancy and vitality, along with what had been an economic engine fired by bustling retail centers, malls, life style centers, and office space of the past 50 years, has stalled or been extinguished in many markets.
Today, high vacancy rates, deferred maintenance, and in many cases abandoned retail and office space have left gaping holes in the fabric of our urban communities.
Adaptive reuse is a practical solution to the economic issue and also aligns with the tenets of the 2030 Challenge posed by the nonprofit Architecture 2030, which asks the global architecture and building community to adopt targets to reduce greenhouse gases. Reaching those ambitious 2030 goals will require a fundamental shift in how the A/E/C industry approaches the needs and wants of owners, a commitment to the idea of local community, and a change in how practitioners view the design profession.
Now is the time to revisit and reconnect with the core strength of the design profession: creative problem solving. Untapped opportunity lies before us in the existing building stock of this country. As designers, we have an opportunity to lead the dialogue in our local communities. It is our place to reclaim the high ground from hedge funds, lenders, and developers who seemingly always look out to the edges and the coveted ZIP codes when they could be looking toward the urban core. READ MORE >>
Are New Yorkers up for the Challenge? Our problems of climate change and diminishing energy supply are greater than ever, but architects and designers can have a significant impact in improving the state of the planet. Buildings are responsible for over 75% percent of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions, and there is a tremendous opportunity to effect real change through energy efficient and innovative design.
Ed Mazria is an architect who is making a big difference, as a preeminent leader and visionary in the field of sustainable design. With a career spanning 45 years, he has been engaged in environmental issues since the 1970s. He is the author of the "bible" of solar design, The Passive Solar Energy Book. Most significantly, he closed his practice in 2006 to start Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that challenges designers to achieve carbon neutrality in buildings by the year 2030. Carbon neutral buildings are ones that do not emit greenhouse gases or offset any emissions by producing renewable energy.
How do you see New York City as uniquely positioned to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions?
Ed Mazria: New York City is already quite energy efficient due to the city's high density and public transportation network. The inherent efficiency of the city's plan and infrastructure will make it easier to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets than in many other locations.
The city consists primarily of occupied existing buildings. It is typically much simpler to design a sustainable building when it is a new construction. Do you see significant environmental improvements being possible in this regard?
Ed Mazria: Most buildings in New York will undergo renovation over the next twenty years. A number will also get demolished. As well, many building enclosures will soon need replacement, particularly post-WW2 curtain wall buildings. Gut renovations of office spaces take place on a regular basis. There is great opportunity to re-imagine and reduce energy consumption in all these buildings. READ MORE >>