Nice session from last fall's CityAge conference in Kansas City: featuring Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, BNIM's Bob Berkebile, Tim Duggan of Make it Right Foundation, and Simon O'Byrne, Vice President, Urban Planning, Stantec.
For those of us who still claim an allegiance to the nonprofit sector qua nonprofits as opposed to alternative visions of nonprofits as sort of second-rate for-profit wannabes or as arms and outposts of government, Joe Nocera’s op-ed in the New York Times is so welcome. Relying on a clearly generative conversation he had with urban redevelopment author Roberta Gratz, Nocera looks at the rebuilding of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and, after the more recent Superstorm Sandy devastation, the Rockaways in the New York City borough of Queens.
Nocera reminds us that after Katrina, city leaders—and we should note, though he didn’t, foundation leaders who participated in their planning efforts—concluded that the Lower Ninth Ward should not be rebuilt, but set aside as green space. Given that much of New Orleans is below sea level, that conclusion could have been slapped down on much of the city, but it was aimed at the very low income Lower Ninth Ward. Katrina had accomplished the desired urban redevelopment—or “urban renewal by removal”—that some politicians had long wanted.
The green space plan didn’t go through, but, as Gratz told Nocera, the big money for redevelopment went to the tourist areas, not neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth. Nonetheless, people trickled back into the neighborhood, despite admonitions that the neighborhood should never be rebuilt. People worked together through neighborhood organizations and other nonprofits, such as Brad Pitt’s Make It Right, to restore the neighborhood in environmentally sensitive and pragmatic ways. Government is now responding to the Lower Ninth, not because it was in the grand plan, but because the presence and activism of neighborhood residents are making it impossible not to do so. READ MORE >>
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INHABITAT: We’ve covered several Gensler projects in the past on Inhabitat. As one of the largest architectural and design firms in the world, how does Gensler prioritize sustainability not only in their buildings but in the everyday operations of your offices.
Irwin: We think of great design as having four equally important parts: ethical practice, experiential design, thoughtful impact, and excellent delivery. Included in ethical practice is sustainability and the idea that you can’t create great design without it. This translates into our everyday office operations in many big and small ways. The really exciting sustainable operations are yet to come in our new office! We’ve worked closely with Glumac to get our energy usage as low as possible through the use of natural light, task lighting, and daylight sensors for overhead lights. We are using chilled beam technology for cooling instead of conventional forced air. All of our plumbing fixtures are very low-flow, and we’ve built showers to encourage the use of alternative transportation, and we offer a great rideshare incentive program. In fact, a key factor in our ultimate decision to relocate to downtown Los Angeles was the proximity of our new office a broader range of public transportation options. We also have recycling, green cleaning products, and paper with high recycled content. All of the vendors that visit our office are asked to share what’s green about their product, and we host weekly presentations that always include sustainable building materials, products, or technology. I could go on, but the bottom line is that we definitely practice what we preach when it comes to sustainability. READ FULL INTERVIEW>>