Discussion: What design professionals can do—besides design—to move toward a carbon-free future

Ed Mazria

Edward Mazria, FAIA, Hon. FRAIC
Recipient of the 2021 AIA Gold Medal
Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030

Edward Mazria is an internationally renowned architect, author, researcher, and educator. His seminal research into urbanization, climate change, sustainability, and energy in the built environment has redefined and dramatically expanded the role of architecture, planning, design, and building in reshaping our world. He is the founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, a think tank developing real-world solutions for 21st century problems.

His innovative architecture, planning projects, and research, programs, and advocacy with Architecture 2030, has garnered him numerous awards including:  National Council for Science and the Environment Lifetime Achievement Award, The Purpose Prize, Mumford Award from Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, National Wildlife Federation National Conservation Achievement Award, Game Changers Award from Metropolis Magazine, American Solar Energy Society Pioneer and Horace Greely Abbot Awards, World Green Building Council Chairman’s Award, AIA Kemper Award, and the 2021 AIA Gold Medal, to name a few.

Recognized for outstanding architecture and planning work, his firm received AIA design and design innovation awards and the American Planning Association Award.

Jacob Corvidae

Jacob Corvidae
Principal, Acting Director of US Program, Rocky Mountain Institute

Jacob is a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute where he co-leads RMI’s work on city and state action, with a particular focus on the building sector and equity. He is also a co-author of The Carbon-Free City Handbook, and The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook, guides to help local governments across the world.

Previously, Jacob was the Executive Director of EcoWorks, a sustainability and community development organization in Detroit, Michigan.

Design firms advancing a climate action agenda

Thomas Auer

Thomas Auer
Partner and Managing Director, Transsolar

Thomas is partner and managing director of Transsolar, an engineering firm with offices in Stuttgart, Munich, Paris and New York. He collaborated with world known architecture firms on numerous international design projects. He is a specialist in energy efficiency, user comfort and sustainable urban design. Thomas has developed concepts for buildings around the world noted for their innovative strategies – an integral part of signature architecture. Thomas taught at Yale University and was a visiting professor at the ESA in Paris, Ryerson in Toronto and other Universities. Since 2014 he is full Professor at the Technical University of Munich.


Brian Court, AIA
Principal, Miller Hull, Seattle

Brian Court has brought sustainable design to the forefront of the public realm with his performance-driven design process that works in harmony with natural forces, shaping our environment and establishing a low-impact, regenerative future. Since joining Miller Hull in 2001, Brian has led the design of numerous high profile and complex landmark projects using a deft combination of time-tested and innovative design strategies and emerging technologies. This has earned him the reputation as an advocate for groundbreaking sustainable design.

Brian has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington and continues to give back to the program as a guest reviewer and thesis critic. Pushing the boundaries of current practice make him a highly sought-after speaker and instructor who regularly shares his insight and experience with other designers and students. Additionally, Brian was honored with the distinguished and singular Young Architect Award by AIA Seattle in 2013.

Melissa Higgs

Melissa Higgs, Architect AIBC
Principal, HCMA Architecture+Design

Melissa is passionate about creating innovative public buildings where communities come together, and is a believer in the power of architecture and design as a catalyst for positive change in the world. She enjoys working closely with clients to find creative solutions to their unique design challenges. Her expertise in recreation facilities, arts and culture, and long-range vision plans are demonstrated by the success of the award-winning Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre, Clayton Community Centre, Granville Island 2040, and the Vancouver Aquatic Strategy.

Melissa plays a key role in managing and developing the cross-disciplinary aspects of HCMA, including communication design, sustainability, and community and stakeholder engagement to augment our architecture practice, enhancing our reach and impact. She believes that true collaboration and transdisciplinary design has the power to improve creative outcomes across all project types and scales.

Melissa is currently on the Board of Directors and member of the Policy Advisory Committee for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), and a member of UBC’s Advisory Urban Design Panel (AUDP). She is a past member of AIBC’s Diverse Membership Group and the City of Surrey’s Advisory Design Panel. For the past two years, Melissa also teaches an architectural design studio at UBC.

Erik Olsen

Erik Olsen, PE
Managing Partner, Transsolar KlimaEngineering

Erik is a managing partner at Transsolar KlimaEngineering, an international climate engineering firm determined to create exceptional, highly comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces with a positive environmental impact. He leads the New York office in working collaboratively with architects worldwide to develop and validate low-energy, architecturally integrated climate and energy concepts.

The result is celebrated projects around the world that simultaneously enhance human comfort and minimize resource use. Passionate and highly-skilled, Erik is a firm believer in innovation adding value to the human experience wherever possible.

Erik has been a lecturer and guest critic at universities including Harvard University, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. In addition to his specialist work at Transsolar, he has worked as a consulting mechanical engineer on a wide variety of building types and launched and directed the City of Chicago’s Green Permit Program. Erik is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University.

								 	Naree Phinyawatana

Naree Phinyatawana, DDES, LEED AP
Director, Atelier Ten, Bangkok and Singapore

Naree serves as the Director of Atelier Ten and leads Southeast Asia business development. Naree’s expertise includes environmental design, daylighting and façade optimization, extensive knowledge in sustainable master planning and infrastructure as well as healthy design. Prior to joining Atelier Ten, Naree’s doctoral dissertation focused on urban heat island model in relationship to radiative properties on urban building envelope design. At Atelier Ten, Naree has worked on a wide range of sustainable masterplans in Southeast Asia, high performance mixed use developments including several LEED Platinum rated commercial and institutional buildings and Green Mark projects in Singapore. She taught at Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Chulalongkorn University and she is currently teaching at Singapore University of Technology and Design. Naree is WELL Accredited Professional, WELL Faculty, and WELL Advisor as well as LEED Accredited Professional for New Construction and Commercial Interior. She holds Green Mark Accredited Professional and Fitwel Ambassador.

Presentation: The work of the 2021 AIA Architecture Firm Award recipient

						Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, AIA
CEO, Moody Nolan

Driven by a passion to continue his father’s legacy, Jonathan D. Moody has entrenched himself in firm leadership driving growth and innovation. Moody Nolan has grown to over 230 employees and 12 offices across the nation. The firm’s designs have now won over 300 design citations including 47 from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and 44 the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Jonathan has helped continue and extend the firm’s position as the largest African-American owned architecture firm. Moody Nolan continues to garner national attention by promoting “diversity by design.”

Jonathan has more than 12 years of high-end design experience focused on integrating digital fabrication and social engagement into the design process. He approaches design with an overall goal of having a major positive impact on communities in need. For Jonathan, architecture is a medium through which people can be connected and inspired by giving tangible being into ideas. Over the last several years, he has passionately devoted himself to community service through mentoring and education programs focused on empowering underserved youth.

A former designer for the Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design and Eisenman Architects, Jonathan’s background is focused in 3D visual presentation and digital fabrication. Most recently, he has worked on a variety of civic, sports, education, healthcare, and institutional projects. While working on projects, Jonathan is also deeply engaged in strategic implementation of Moody Nolan’s long-term aspirations.

Case studies of Design-First projects that respond to a social justice agenda

Case Study #1 — Art Gallery of Nova Scotia:

Jordan Bennett
photo by Richie Perez

Jordan Bennett
Jordan Bennett Studio

Jordan Bennett is a Mi’kmaw visual artist from Stephenville Crossing, Ktaqamkuk (Newfoundland). He lives and works on his ancestral territory of Mi’kma’ki in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia with his partner in life and art Amy Malbeuf and their son. Jordan's ongoing practice utilizes painting, sculpture, textiles, video, installation, public art and sound to explore land, language, the act of visiting, familial histories and challenging colonial perceptions of Indigenous histories and presence with a focus on exploring Mi’kmaq and Beothuk visual culture. In the past 10 years Jordan has participated in over 90 group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, as well as created numerous public art commissions. Jordan is currently working towards several public artworks nationally as well as a solo exhibition titled “Souvenir” curated by Ryan Rice that will open at onsite Gallery at OCAD in Toronto, ON this fall. He has been the recipient of several awards and honours most notably he has been long listed for the 2015 and 2016 Sobey Art Award, was shortlisted for the 2018 Awards and was a long list winner in 2020 along with being a 2019 recipient of the Van Houtte Masters’ Fund Program, a Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL award and presented with the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Councils Artist of the Year.

			Omar Gandhi

Omar Gandhi
Omar Gandhi Architect

Omar Gandhi is the Principal of Omar Gandhi Architect, an architectural practice founded in 2010 with small teams in both Halifax and Toronto. The work of its two studios – OG Halifax and OGTO – has garnered much National and International attention in the young practice’s short history.

In its early years, the studio was awarded the Canada Council for the Arts Professional Prix de Rome, was included in Wallpaper* Magazine’s Architects Directory, and Omar himself was named as one of Monocle Magazine’s ‘Most Influential Canadians’. Omar was chosen as one of the Architectural League of New York’s ‘Emerging Voices’ of 2016 and was appointed as the Louis I. Kahn visiting Assistant Professor in Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture for the 2018-19 academic year.

Most recently, Omar Gandhi Architect was the recipient of a 2018 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for its work on Rabbit Snare Gorge, and honored as the only Canadian practice in Architectural Record Magazine’s 2018 Design Vanguard.

								 		Bruce Kuwabara

Bruce Kuwabara, AIA
Founding Partner, KPMB

Bruce Kuwabara is a founding partner of KPMB Architects and the Chair of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. In 2006, he was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal and in 2012 he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada for shaping "our built landscape in lasting ways." Bruce was lead design partner on 13 of KPMB’s 16 Governor General’s Award-winning projects.

His portfolio encompasses cultural, civic, educational, hospitality, and healthcare projects. Notable cultural work includes Canada’s National Ballet School, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, and the Remai Modern art gallery in Saskatoon. Educational projects include the Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building and Louis A. Simpson International Building at Princeton University, and the Destination Project at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Bruce has long advocated the integration of performance and aesthetics. He led teams for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. Working on an integrated design team he designed Manitoba Hydro Place which is a global exemplar for high-performance, low-energy building design. He has worked on four Leed-Platinum projects: Manitoba Hydro Place, the office building of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Bay Adelaide East Tower, and the Kellogg School of Management.

Bruce leads interdisciplinary design teams to deliver large-scale neighbourhood projects. This work includes the Athlete’s Village for the Pan/Parapan Games in 2015 which is now the Canary District in Toronto and the Pier 8 waterfront development in Hamilton.

Current clients include the Contemporary Calgary Art Gallery (Expansion and Renovation of the 1967 Centennial Planetarium), Boston University (Center for Computing and Data Sciences), Brookfield (Bay-Adelaide Centre North Tower), the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS).

A strong advocate of Canadian architecture and architects, Bruce serves as a critic and guest lecturer at universities across North America.

Case Study #2 — Portland Community College Opportunity Center:

Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue, AIA
Principal, Bora Architects

Amy has over 25 years of experience designing spaces for education and collaborative work. Her deep understanding of interdisciplinary environments blends concepts from both the educational and high-tech sectors, resulting in a sophisticated body of work that enables people to do, make, learn, and thrive together.

Common to all her work is a sensitivity to user needs and flexibility, as well as a commitment to the reduction of a project’s environmental impact. She works closely with clients to establish a design vision that will enhance the institution’s goals, foster seamless community integration, and resonate with users.

Bryan Lee

Bryan Lee
Founder/Design Director, Colloqate

Bryan is an architect, educator, and Design Justice advocate. He is the founder/Design Director of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit multidisciplinary design practice in New Orleans dedicated to expanding community access to design and creating spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity. He has led two award-winning youth design programs and is the founding co-organizer of the DAP (Design As Protest) Collective. He was most recently noted as one of the 2018 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business, a USC Annenberg MacArthur Civic Media Fellow, and the youngest design firm to win the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award in 2019.

Rebecca Ocken

Rebecca Ocken
Planning Manager, Portland Community College

Rebecca Ocken is a planning manager for Portland Community College overseeing college planning for the 1,500 square mile district. She is also acting as project manager for the College, leading capital construction at PCC's Portland Metropolitan Workforce Center and previously managed the expansion of PCC's Cascade Campus totaling $60 million. Beyond project management, her experience includes commercial/retail assessments, transportation demand management plans, and public outreach with a focus on Critical Race Theory.