Friday, September 30, 2005

McDonough Report

What follows is my report to my class on my Bill McDonough experience.

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McDonough was much as we saw him on DVD...funny, erudite, and deadly serious. He shared some of his latest news with us.

The design of his first Chinese city (yes, an ENTIRE CITY) was approved 3 weeks ago. The plans are exciting: they are "moving the farms to the roofs," ensuring that every apartment receives natural light, placing a pedestrian beltway around the city that is not bisected by large thoroughfares so that children and elders can access everything without having to cross busy intersections, and incorporating "waste to food" recycling.

Releasing Cradle to Cradle Protocols to the Public Domain: They are making the protocols for Cradle to Cradle design public so that anyone can design buildings or products around those specifications. Which will then lead to . . .

Cradle to Cradle certification: They will be certifying designs, products, and buildings with a Cradle to Cradle brand. Companies will be able to submit products to them and get a seal of approval. He partially justified the need for this by explaining that LEED certification for buildings, for example, allows for PVC to be recycled, which he thinks isn‘t a good thing. So Cradle to Cradle certifications will be stricter than LEED certifications.

He was asked about New Orleans . . . what did he think should be done? "Of course," he wanted to see the jazz heritage preserved. He thought that instead of 200-year levees we should build 10,000-year levees there to protect the city. He mentioned allowing the land around the city to revert to its natural wetlands state - I think he actually said, "Let it be its natural silty self." He ended his answer on a pessimistic note, stating that he didn‘t think the current administration would have the political will to accomplish this.

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The venue, the Columbus Athenaeum, left a lot to be desired. Both poorly lit and undermic'd, it was difficult to see or hear McDonough clearly. At one point, Bill was holding his podium microphone up to the speaker on his laptop so the audience could hear the audio portion of his presentation. That's just sad.

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