A group of architects holding a sign that read “ARCHITECTS AGAINST FOSSIL FUELS” took to the streets last Sunday in Manhattan in one of many happenings that kicked off Climate Week NYC: an event that brings together thousands of protesters; leaders in business, government, the climate sector; and the United Nations to convalesce about planet earth’s future. The design professionals that marched down Broadway were members of The Architecture Lobby (TAL) Green New Deal working group who were invited to demonstrate by Labor Network for Sustainability. TAL was there to do what their banner suggested: challenge architecture’s complicity with the fossil fuel industry and advocate for a just transition to a more equitable, green economy.
Between September 17 and 24, a series of events, films, exhibitions, and seminars take place throughout New York as part of Climate Week NYC. Between September 19 and 30, the artist, architect, and environmental activist Maya Lin has an exhibition at Pace Gallery showcasing her prints. At the Center for Architecture on September 20 at 10:00 a.m., experts from the NYCEDC, USDA, and AIA convene to discuss mass timber. That same morning, Amtrak representatives will give walking tours of Moynihan Train Hall and discuss the future of high-speed rail. At 11:00 a.m, Wednesday, AIA NY member Doug Fox will offer a 3 hour tour of Manhattan’s coastline and discuss resiliency projects down the pipeline.
The New School, Google.org, the Centre for Public Impact, and World Resources Institute will host a round table about AI’s positive potential for climate impact. At CUNY on September 21, James Lane from CUNY’s Building Performance Lab’s NYC Sustainability Help Center will give a “crash course” on New York City’s building energy codes. Later that day, live at The People’s Forum on 320 West 37th Street, The Alternative Building Industry (ABI) Collective and Science for the People will hold a panel with The Architecture Lobby about about the built environment, sustainability, and labor.
At The People’s Forum, ABI will discuss (and defend) Local Law 97, the legal name for New York’s Green New Deal. “This week is about building coalitions not just in architecture but with engineering and the building trades,” Adare Brown, a TAL member, told AN. “There are so many statistics about building emissions,” Jack Rusk, another TAL member, said. “But questions about sustainability are also deeply intertwined with questions about labor and supply chains.”
On September 22, join representatives from Pratt Institute on Governors Island for Adaptation(s), an exhibition that looks at major ecological projects by SO – IL, BIG, and Rebuild by Design. In Staten Island, Pippa Brasher, a principal at SCAPE, will give a walking tour of the award-winning landscape firm’s Living Breakwaters Shorewalk project.
Additional direct action took place in coordination with Climate Week NYC. On September 15, over 100 protesters gathered at MoMA to call on the institution to remove board chair Marie-Josée Kravis. Her husband, Henry Kravis, runs KKR, a private-equity firm with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry. At present, Kravis’s firm is currently building a pipeline project through Indigenous land on the Gulf of Mexico. Sixteen protesters were arrested after staging a “die-in” on MoMA’s ground floor, just below where its Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism exhibition opened to the public days later.
For more information, a full list of Climate Week NYC’s programming can be found here.