Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gehry's Green Gripes: A Good Trend Gone Wrong

City Center in Las Vegas - LEED Gold?

You will not often find me praising Frank Gehry, save perhaps in an occasional acknowledgment of his brilliance in the siting of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, but his recent, much-criticized commentary on the state of green building and the US industry's narrow focus on LEED has given me cause. Designing and building for a sustainable future require so much more than a checklist. In an open letter in defense of Gehry, Fred Bernstein, using the monstrous City Center development as a prime example, argues Gehry's point supremely well - "...the question is political. If there were robust public debate, Americans might decide that projects like City Center pose environmental costs that far outweigh their benefits. Zoning regulations, taxes, and other tools of government could then be used to stop such projects. LEED, by contrast, cannot stop wasteful projects from being built, nor does it attempt to." I hope Gehry's "Starchitect" status can help keep this very important issue fresh and encourage a continued and open debate on responsible, sustainable development.

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