Sustainable Architectural Design: Fundamental

The importance of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center doesn't just rest on its being the largest LEED building ever certified. Rather, decisions made during the competition and conceptual design stage to incorporate ideas and technologies that were subsequently awarded points in the sustainable design certification process were based solely on the creation of meaningful and substantive design.

12/01/2004


The importance of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center doesn't just rest on its being the largest LEED building ever certified. Rather, decisions made during the competition and conceptual design stage to incorporate ideas and technologies that were subsequently awarded points in the sustainable design certification process were based solely on the creation of meaningful and substantive design. In other words, we endeavored to make architecture.

Architecture has always dealt with the management of fundamental forces of nature: gravity, climate, natural light, temperature variations, wind and air quality. It has also always been driven by the need to address the functional and symbolic requirements created by the culture. The solutions that address these forces through the development of existing technologies have been, over time, the true source of an ever-developing architectural vocabulary. These innovations have been the way in which architecture has contributed to the evolution of the culture.

Addressing sustainability in the architectural design was not any less fundamental than providing structural soundness. The creation of inspirational spaces should be a function of the way that building technologies are developed to achieve a form in which structural efficiency, environmental attentiveness and spatial considerations are inseparable. The process of design is integrated with the logical understanding of the processes of nature to achieve an intrinsic and uncapricious relationship between the individual, the building and nature.

Whether the solution is seen as motivated purely by metaphor, by structure or by engineering technologies, in the Lawrence Center, form and engineering have become a singular object that is the poetry of the building.

The problem with too many buildings today is that aesthetics has replaced advancing technology as the objective. The intent is transforming the building into a vehicle of individual artistic expression. But artistic expression develops its extraordinary power over conditions that are not the same as the ones that originate a building; architectural expression develops its amazing capacity to produce social meaning by acknowledging its own role in society and its specific conditions of possibility. The true role of intuition in the design process has gone from serving as a route of discovery to becoming the justification for self-indulgence. The speed at which the present trend of constantly circulated architectural imagery is consumed by the public through the media, more than as a direct experience of the buildings themselves, demands an attitude toward design that makes it closer to producing an article of fashion than establishing a dialogue with the natural environment.

The Lawrence Center design rejects this attitude and returns to the modernist ideal that form and function are inseparable. And the function of any building needs to include responsible stewardship of the earth's resources.





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