Summer 2007

ARTS 623
Green Architecture


06/25/2007 - 08/03/2007
Monday & Wednesday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Zilkha Gallery 106

This course explores the development of green architecture at the intersection of three areas of study: the social reforms and utopian schemes of 20th-century modernist architecture, the eco-design solutions of vernacular architecture throughout the world, and the global ecological crisis. We will focus at the beginning of the course on an examination of the Green Building Council's recent standards for new construction known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a five-pointed rating system comprising sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

We will study the complex interrelationships highlighted by the standards, and apply them not only to contemporary architecture, but also to vernacular architecture (caves, huts, tents, tombs, fortresses, domes, yurts, tree houses, towers, windmills, watermills, etc.) as this ancient practice fits into specific climate-zones and eco-niches. In order to place green architecture in historical context, we will briefly survey 20th-century city-planning reforms, architectural manifestos, and utopian dreams from Ebenezer Howard's "Garden Cities" at the beginning of the century to Paolo Soleri's Arcologies at the outset of the ecological debate in the 60's and 70's. Finally, we will undertake a detailed study of new directions in sustainable design through global case studies of houses and other buildings in a variety of locations: suburbs, cities, mountains, bodies of water, tropics, and deserts. Through this study, we will gain an appreciation not only of the great variety of site-specific approaches to green architecture, but of the startling beauty and sophistication of many of the designs as well.

Readings include: Cradle to Cradle--Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart; The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, Jason F. McLennan; Shelter, ed. Lloyd Kahn; The Green House-- New Directions in Sustainable Architecture, Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne; The New Natural House Book, David Pearson.

Assignments include two 4-page writing/planning projects, a final 10-page research paper, a Project Journal (an informal collection of ideas and sketches related to the writing assignments, hands-on experiences, and field trips), attendance and participation.

Field trips are planned to regional green design projects.

For the first class meeting, students should have read Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things (William McDonough & Michael Braungart)

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Michael Pestel (BA Hartwick College; MFA Otis Art Institute) is an installation artist who has given more than 17 solo and 53 group exhibitions of sculpture, soundscape, and sitework over the past 18 years. His work and biography are viewable on his website.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Lloyd Kahn, SHELTER (Shelter Publications), Paperback

William McDonough & Michael Braungart, CRADLE TO CRADLE: REMAKING THE WAY WE MAKE THINGS (North Point Press), Paperback

Jason McLennan, THE PHILOSOPHY OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN (Ecotone Publishing), Paperback

David Pearson, THE NEW NATURAL HOUSE BOOK (Simon & Schuster), Paperback


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