In the film, A Beautiful Mind, the character of Nobel Prize winning mathematician and economist John Forbes Nash Jr. says, “In competitive behavior, someone always loses.” So true on all fronts of survival of the fittest whether the conversation matter is Democrat versus Republican, Yankees versus Mets, man versus nature, form versus function. Who wins?
Our ordinary lives can sometimes feel like a struggle weighing the pros and cons – we ask ourselves, who do we believe? What should I buy? How much should I save? Where should I live? How will this make my life better? Everyday, we make choices in a fast changing world. Keeping up with the challenges of the economy, health, war, and global warming can feel like a race against time. Sacred Heart University’s Gallery of Contemporary Art current exhibition, The Art of Sustainable Architecture, addresses how we can come to a meeting ground by thinking collaboratively rather than competitively.
As sustainability is one of the most pressing topics of our time, Sophia Gevas, SHU’s gallery director, embarked on a path of discovery to find answers to some of these environmental problems. “We can no longer ignore the environmental challenges our world is facing. These issues are real and there are real solutions that are beautiful and quantifiably can make a difference in our quality of life.”
The exhibition contains hand sketches, plans, and photos of four architecture firms making strides in sustainability: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners of New York City; Beinfield Architecture of Norwalk, CT; Centerbrook Architects and Planners of Centerbrook, CT; Faesy-Smith Architects of Wilton, CT. The selected projects encompass all types of architecture styles and uses from living space, to places of education, worship, and recreation – new construction to historical preservation and retrofits. The common thread is brilliant sustainability.
Hand sketches show site analysis, sun angle studies, an inventory of deciduous and evergreen trees, topography, and locations of bodies of water. Design is a discovery process that engages the architect to think about resources that already exist on the site, how the space is used, and imagine solutions that are resourceful, functional, and beautiful.
Energy efficiency technologies, material selection, community interaction, and aesthetic relevance are a few factors taken into consideration when creating sustainable spaces. “The complexity of being green requires a collaborative approach,” says Gevas. There is more than one right answer when aesthetics come into play. The Art of Sustainable Architecture shows us that we can find a balance where minds of genius and beauty meet.
The Art of Sustainable Architecture runs through March 4, 2010.
Article reworked for submission by author. Originally published in its entirety in ARTES Magazine on February 22, 2010.