Is Sustainability Actually Dead?

Blog post 8: Sustainability Lecture

The lecture called “Sustainability is Dead” by Lance Hosey started to beg the question: what does it take to ask the right question to connect design? Lance Hosey proposed a number of questions during the lecture pertaining to architectural design. I think this question is important to be coupled with the question: what if architecture were influenced by science rather than art?


Now this question is the most provocative of all the questions Lance talked about. This is an interesting concept to think of because it seems most “successful” architecture (or architecture that is assumed to be successful) within the architectural field are the buildings that stand out the most. They are the most artsy. I found this to be especially interesting of a concept because it seems like the most zany buildings get the most attention. The ironic part about it all is that these buildings tend to be the structures that are the least successful as a structure. I really admire Lance’s concept of this as he brought up Frank Gehry’s work as a prime example of someone who is praised for making the exact same building over and over. His zany buildings seem to get the most praise in the architectural community because they are unique. But in reality they are far from successful. The looks and style of the building does not match any of its surroundings.

I found Lance’s lecture to be extra interesting because he too showed distaste for Frank Gehry’s work. Frank Gehry does not represent any innovation in the field of architecture and sustainability and uses just one material for most of his buildings. These are emphases on art and not on science. They have no meaning other than to be unappealing metal sculptures. If these innovations were instead funneled into scientific architecture, buildings would begin to show beyond sustainability by showing regeneration. They could begin to make people feel different to how they feel. An understanding of this is crucial in the understanding into what it truly means to be an architect and not some person who crumbles pieces of paper together into a building.



One comment

  1. matte184

    Thanks for writing a post on one of the “Sustainability is Dead-Regenerative Design” lectures! I was looking forward to attending this series of lectures but never got around to doing so. To ask the correct question for design one must ask the following questions; how does it function, who is it being made for, what is the intention in the design?

    In the case of Frank Gehry, I’m going to advocate for him. Currently, I think that art plays a major role in how we think and process on a day to day basis. Art is important because it represents history and a way of thinking. Right now, I think science has an influence on architecture but purely on a material level, rather than an entire structure as a whole. We need to begin thinking about how facades can regenerate with the environment, such as Reiser + Umemoto’s smog-eating facade at the 0-14 Tower. Although, we may need to begin thinking with the mindset of architecture as a science, the aspect of art should never vanish. Frank Gehry’s designs are elegant, simple, and exasperating. Even if many of his structures are merely a re-creation, he’s one of the first architects to master the use of unconventional building materials as a design theme. He does a great job of getting people to talk about his work because of the form and misuse of material in his structures. His work is provocative and exciting. Gehry’s creations are more than just “unappealing metal sculptures.” I believe that there is more meaning to his work than just a simple statement about them being unattractive metal sculptures. Everyone feels different about Gehry’s creations and what he attempts to portray in his process. The important part is that Gehry’s work keeps people talking, a prevalent theme in architectural practice.

    I think that the bigger question that roots out of this post is “How does science find a way into art forms?; Can these forms still be considered art?; And how can we use the merging of these two as a methodical approach to change the way in which we envision a future for everyone?

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