WBYA? 2.0: Sustainability and Sustaining Human Life

To sustain means to support, uphold, and endure. The logics of sustainability focus on our collective roles as consumers and producers in order to maintain human life and preserve the environment that supports us. The green building movement, concerned with the ethics of constructing environmentally sensitive buildings that provide an ecologically sound environment for owners and inhabitants, has had a fundamental impact on how architects build buildings. The U.S. Green Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), has made the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings compliant with their stipulations of low energy usage and environmental impact. Not only do these criteria impact the client and use, but LEED practices and professional certification also have radically impacted how architects work in the U.S and internationally. It links what architects do within a complex system of relationships that include users and owners, energy and material sources, climatic and site conditions, and architects and buildings. Drawing inspiration from the green building movement, writer and designer Ann Lui has made the compelling argument that “workers rights and safety should be a pivotal point for any sustainability discussion: the environment is not just the air, ground, and water, but the people with whom we work and live.” With architects building globally—often disconnected from their own cultural and political contexts—what is their responsibility toward the workers who construct their buildings? Who Builds Your Architecture 2.0? asks: should the production of buildings also sustain the human lives of those who build our architecture?

WBYA? Panel at the Vera List Center
April 22, 2013
New York, New York
WBYA? 2.0: Sustainability and Sustaining Human Life

Participants:

Phil Bernstein (Vice President for Strategic Industry Relations, Autodesk)
Peggy Deamer (Assistant Dean and Professor of Architecture, Yale University)
Reinhold Martin (Associate Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University) Ed Mayer (Senior Associate, FXFOWLE International Studio)
Walid Raad (Artist and Associate Professor of Art, The Cooper Union)
Andrew Ross (Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University)
Brad Samuels (Founding Partner, Situ Studio)
William Sharples (Founding Principal, SHoP Architects and SHoP Construction) Raphael Sperry (President, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility) Smita Srinivas (Assistant Professor, Urban Planning, Columbia University, and Director of the Technological Change Lab)
Nisha Varia (Senior Researcher, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch)

Video response by Raphael Sperry, who was unable to attend WBYA? 2.0: