As modern lifestyles continue to undergo fundamental, at times rackingly painful, evolution, buildings are increasingly being seen as living, breathing parts of the natural environment. Leading architectural firms, such as William McDonough + Partners, otherwise known as WM+P, have been at the forefront of the sustainable architectural design wave.
Before WM+P was founded in 1994, “Bill had run a small architecture firm in New York– since the mid 80s,” media relations director Kira Gould recounted. “He and the firm have seen and been a part of many of the milestones set on the way toward where the market and the public mindset is today. We are gratified to have witnessed and been a part of this shift – more and more clients are understanding the value in what we do and how we think.”
Living Roofs & Eco-Effective Design
WM+P were the architects behind the “Living Roof” at Ford Motor’s River Rouge, Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant, which garnered the “2004 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence” in the Extensive Industrial Commercial category.
Lofty though it is, the firm’s strategic vision, as Gould communicates it, is one that now resonates across the architectural and design communities. “To render visible the eco-effective design solutions at the architecture and community design scale has always been compelling, and we’ve been fortunate to find clients and collaborators of all kinds who believe in the power of this vision and have been wonderful partners in working toward it.
“We see ourselves as working towards designs and human settlements that are 100 percent good, and we realize that’s an ambitious goal.”
The Next Industrial Revolution: Ecology, New Life/Workstyles a Big Part of the Mix
Founder William McDonough’s belief in, advocacy of and efforts to build sustainability into building and community design extends well beyond the architecture, however. Collaborators for more than a decade, McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart co-authored the 2002 book, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.”
Their latest joint effort, a 55-minute documentary entitled, “The Next Industrial Revolution–The Birth of the Sustainable Economy,” is one that seems to echo the wide-ranging and far-reaching observations, analysis and synthesis put forth by Alvin Toffler in his 1980 book, “The Third Wave.”
Sensing a need for long-term fundamental socio-economic change, interest in and activity related to sustainable building and community design continues to grow despite the current financial and economic turmoil, McDonough said in a recent interview.
Whether it’s sustainable design in academic, civic, corporate, industrial, residential, mixed use or community settings, WM+P’s been there and done it. And the firm continues to refine its approach and add to its portfolio. It’s currently involved in a number of high-profile projects, including the Greenbridge suburban community development project in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Park 20/20 Master Plan at Beukenhorst Zuid in the The Netherlands, and the Isola mixed-use urban redevelopment project in Milan.
There’s a little bit or creative inspiration, a rough sketch, on WM+P’s website that provides a quickly and easily recalled framework for guiding sustainable architecture and design efforts:
Putting it in words, WM+P’s mission statement says it equally well, and more explicitly: “Design is the first signal of human intention. Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”