Thursday, April 19, 2007

Designing Green Buildings from the Ground Up

Which brings me to today's book review. I mention that Sim Van der Ryn is a favorite architect of mine. I happened to stumble on his book 'Design For Life' at the library recently. I'd call it a personal essay on the design process, and the story follows the journey of his life and how it influenced his creations. He was at the forefront of the green design revolution back in the 60's, and taught provocative ideas in his classes at UC Berkeley for decades.
As I flipped through the pictures before delving into the story, I kept gasping as I recognized more and more of his firm's projects: The Life Expression Chiropractic Center; the Zen Center; the Kirsch Center at De Anza College. They're all award winning projects, and I'd studied them in classes or heard about them but had never put them together as the work from one firm, Van der Ryn Architects.
Van der Ryn Architects use nature as a model for designing their buildings. They create places with no need for artificial heating and cooling, places that fit in the landscape. There is a lot of talk these days about reducing carbon and creating sustainable buildings, and I see a lot of green washing out there. But these guys have never built anything but green buildings, and it shows. Bravo.

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