01 October 2008

Live Blog: Kurt Culbertson of Design Workshop

Live blogging the common lectures is back! This is a fast moving discussion and this post will be pretty disjointed.

Kurt Culbertson, FASLA began his Beyond Green lecture with a description of Design Workshop and its history.
Founders Joe Porter and Don Ensign - Gave them a sense of courage – try not to take themselves too seriously
Early projects started at the Outer Banks of NC and led them to Jim Rouse.
An important turning point was a proposal for Owl Creek in Snowmass CO that wasn’t successful.
The resort work has been an important foundation for their growth - The Village at Ribbon Creek
In a 29 year career, he has worked as a sub-consultant to an architect only twice: LA is not the stuff around the bottom of the building! LA is the preservation or modification of any part of the surface of the planet.

He also cited the important influence on his career by Doc Reich, founder of LSU’s program, emphasized value-based leadership and taught Kurt that LA is not a profession but a calling.
4 years before the founding of the US Green Building Council, DW was working on similar guidelines for a community in NM. More recently they have worked at planned sustainable communities like Rancho Viejo in Santa Fe.
Les Wexner’s yard in Columbus, OH helped them model how they could grow as a firm taking on smaller residential and larger planning projects simultaneously.
Last year he worked on 4 residences where the average budget was $ 3.5 million.


The discussion turned toward his vision for sustainability.

Social Justice was a serious priority.

At a new project in Salt Lake City they will have NO buried storm drains. – The runoff rate had to match the pre-European settlement conditions.

Agricultural urbanism is another tool for exploring the real impact of the community. He came up with a calorie budget (21 billion calories per year) which suggested that a 5,000 acre community needed a rather unrealistic 35,000 acre farm area. Still, forcing the community to address food as an issue helps with the environmental impact.

Quite importantly, DW has worked to add art to the usual environment, economics and community diagram (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/70/Sustainable_development.svg/300px-Sustainable_development.svg.png).

What are the elements of sustainability? Education is a central element in a civil and stable society. Employment is a major element – are the benefits distributed in a sustainable manner. Housing is important.

One of his heroes is Sam Mockbee whose Rural Studio was one of the inspiration for the DW Foundation. They also use a housing trust to help employees.

If you subscribe to one magazine in life, he says make it The Economist. They ranked quality of life in the US as 13th in the world.

What constitutes success in this process? Is it just something beautiful? Is it a project that includes affordable housing, like the Gates Rubber Factory? Starting in Bolivia they began exploring how to make appropriate housing that can grow. They are now looking at places like Nigeria to see if it works there.

What gets measured, gets done. - Tom Peters

LEED Standards have helped establish metrics for green issues. DW has developed a broader set of metrics for community success. Jones and Jones has developed their Intrinsic Values Index. The reflection and consideration of the impact may be an emerging trend. We'll see.

He described the career path as 3 years to stop hurting yourself and 15 years to get competent.

DT sez: Sorry if it is sloppy - it was a wild ride.

No comments: