If timing is everything, I could not have found a better moment to join the Eco-Structure team, since my first week in the office included, among other events, the Evergreen Awards competition judging. This year, the competition was skillfully coordinated and executed by Eco-Structure's former associate editor and metalmag's current managing editor, Laurie Grant. For this, I owe her a great deal of thanks as overseeing an array of entries from across the country as well as a judging panel spread from the Midwest to the West Coast, is no easy task.
Over my years in the architecture and design community I've overseen a number of competition juries. Inevitably, the question arises as to whether projects should be recognized specifically for their sustainable attributes. After all, why rewrad something that should be an inherent business practice?
Admittedly, it’s a question that arose in the Evergreen Awards. The competition’s Flashback category asks for one year of energy- and water-consumption data. However, browsing this year’s winners, you will notice that the 2009 jury members chose not to select a Flashback winner because they strongly agreed that each entry should provide this data. It’s one thing to aim for a sustainable design; it’s another to deliver a final building that not only meets its goals on opening day, but continues to do so for years to come.
In a perfect world, every structure would be inherently sustainable, high-performing, and architecturally gorgeous. But let’s be honest: We’re not there. That isn’t to say fully sustainable cities, states, and even countries are an impossible dream. In fact, this idea of large-scale sustainability truly excites our Perspectives winner, Steven Winter.
It also is the driving force for me as the new editor of Eco-Structure, where my goal is to recognize projects across market segments and geographic boundaries that truly push sustainable design forward. That’s why this issue features places where you’d expect to find green elements, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional headquarters (“Show and Tell”), as well as unexpected venues such as a public restroom at the Bronx Zoo (“Answering Nature’s Call”).
Our Greenhouse winners also provide food for thought. One, EcoDEEP Haus (“Going DEEP”), rebuilt a 1940s bungalow in St. Paul, Minn., into a green machine that is double the size of the original structure yet now uses 40 percent less energy. Given the spectacular bust in the real estate market of late, finding forward-thinking ways to remodel the existing housing supply into more sustainable residences, instead of simply building new, will remain a pressing challenge. The other Greenhouse winner, LivingHomes’ model single-family house in Santa Monica, Calif., (“Modular Marvel”) not only speaks well to innovative construction, but also offers up a well-designed, prefab house—the overarching dream of modern architecture for decades.
Of course, as Eco-Structure’s editor, I plan to recognize this work not just in an awards issue, but on a daily basis. With this in mind, I look forward to your ongoing developments, innovations, and feedback.
Katie Weeks, Editor