Daily digest: Howard University environmental justice course wins architecture prize, climate research on Governors Island, and more

Earth Day Edition

Daily digest: Howard University environmental justice course wins architecture prize, climate research on Governors Island, and more

The Trust for Governors Island announced that any climate center proposal would not eat into the island’s public space. (Courtesy WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages)

Hello and happy Earth Day! Because humans are literally heating the Earth up past the point of no return, here’s what you need to know today:

Howard University course on environmental justice wins collegiate architecture prize

This week the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture announced its annual Course Development Prize. The winning curriculum, titled Environmental Justice (EJ) + Health + Decarbonization, was proposed by Howard University architecture lecturer Nea Maloo, AIA

The annual prize asks lecturers and professors to submit proposals for courses on topics related to architecture, climate change and society. Maloo’s course focuses on designing sustainable buildings that foster environmental health, justice and social equity. Students will collect data, use energy modeling simulations, study building materials and decarbonization strategies and then apply these practices to climate change and social justice issues.

The interdisciplinary course will be offered by Howard University’s College of Engineering and Architecture in Fall 2023.

We’re one step closer to a climate research institute on Governors Island

The Trust for Governors Island recently announced it is one step closer to establishing a research institute on the island that will study climate change solutions in urban environments as well as educate and train New Yorkers for work in environmental and climate fields.  

When it is fully built, the Center for Climate Solutions will generate around 7,000 permanent jobs on Governors Island, and the Trust estimates it will generate $1 billion in fiscal impact for the city as a whole.

“New York City is facing some of the most complex climate adaptation challenges in the world,” said Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Kizzy Charles-Guzman, in a statement. “The Center for Climate Solutions will bring together actionable science, community-based partnerships, and innovative and equitable solutions to communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. We look forward to learning from the world-class work on Governors Island and applaud the Trust for their climate leadership.”

Four university teams are finalists for in the competition to partner on the center. The City University of New York (CUNY) and The New School; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Northeastern University; and Stony Brook University were selected as finalists after responding to a June 2021 Request for Expressions of Interest. The RFPs released this week asked teams to refine their proposals for curricula and facility design, among other items. Those RFPs are due this July.

Gensler Research Institute releases inaugural climate survey

The Gensler Research Institute released this week its first-ever U.S. Climate Action Survey, and its findings are sobering—and not entirely surprising. Described by Gensler “as a principle framework for how the real estate industry can make immediate investments to lower its carbon footprint and improve the relevance, insurability, and value of all property types,” the inaugural report found 87 percent of the U.S. adults surveyed have been directly impacted by extreme weather events since 2019 yet only 18 percent believe that the communities where they reside are designed with resilience required to withstand future bouts of extreme weather accelerated by climate change.

The Gensler Research Institute is an arm of the global architecture, design, and plan firm that functions as a “collaborative network of researchers focused on a common goal: to generate new knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the connection between design, business, and the human experience.”

More on the theme and findings of Gensler’s 2022 U.S. Climate Action Survey can be found here.

AIA debuts new, more environmentally friendly headquarters for Earth Day

While the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been proactive in establishing the framework for a sustainable, resilient, and equitable built environment capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century, the organization’s own national headquarters in Washington, D.C. remain a relic of yesteryear, seemingly preserved in amber circa 1970 within an aging concrete shell.

That, however, will soon change, AN Associate Editor Matt Hickman reported. Yesterday, the AIA unveiled schematic designs—a reveal made just ahead of Earth Day—of a major planned revitalization of its longtime home at 1735 New York Avenue NW.

And finally….some short and sweet Earth Day links for your consideration:

  • IPCC report paints damning portrait of architecture: Our buildings are ‘wrongly designed’ – Fast Company
  • With Field Operations at the helm, Baltimore shares new designs for its Reimagine Middle Branch plan – AN
  • Perkins&Will to Deliver ‘Carbon Forecasts’ to Help Clients Mitigate Their Buildings’ Environmental Impact – Perkins&Will
  • In Ida’s wake, America’s rural communities need better protection—cities can’t hog climate adaptation – AN
  • Protester Scales DC’s Wilson Building to Hang Earth Day Banner – NBC Washington