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Book Review - The modern architect’s bible

Published at: 10 April 2015

Sustainable Design: Ecology, Architecture, and Planning
By Daniel E. Williams
Published by John Wiley & Sons Inc (2007)
304 pages



Written for architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers, public officials and change agent professionals, Daniel E. Williams has put together an important resource that defines but yet offers solutions to the issues effecting and affecting sustainable design. He also illustrates quite practically and conceptually, through case studies, the kind of impact sustainable design can have on social development. Williams provides the kind of support no other book has been able to offer to allow for continued learning in this increasingly central focus of architects' and urban planners' work.

David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics as well as chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College. ln his foreword, he declares Williams’ book “a thoroughly practical call for the design professions to take the next steps toward transformation of the human prospect toward a future that is sustainable and sustaining of the best in human life lived in partnership, not domination.”

The author, he says, provides the sort of intelligent, thoughtful, experienced insights that - if followed - will ensure that we make the right design choices. I agree with him when he says that this book should be “on the desk of every architect in the world".

Denis Hayes, president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970 identifies sustainability as the most important change in the future of the profession. The importance of Sustainable Design, he says, is that the book “is a practical, comprehensive guide to design and plan a built environment compatible with a region's economic, social, and ecological patterns”.

In his landmark book, Williams also challenges professionals to rethink architecture and to see their projects not as objects but as critical, connected pieces of the whole, essential to human health as well as to regional economy and ecology.

The book is comprehensive in scope, and goes on to provide key sustainable design answers, while offering new insights at the same time. The author unflinchingly tackles burning issues and difficult questions. How do we begin thinking and designing ecologically? What are some examples of effective change I can make that will have the most impact for the least cost? He crucially addresses the difference between "green design" and "sustainable design”.

Included in the book, are case studies in the form of award-winning projects from the first decade of the AIA's Committee on the Environment’s Top Ten award program.

Find original artcle here.

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