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Architecture | Urbanism | Climate Action 

In addition to my content strategy and development practice, I work as a freelance journalist covering green building trends, regenerative design, and energy policy for a variety of media outlets, including Green Building Advisor, Architectural Record, Metropolis, ENTER magazine, and others. 

Built From Earth and By the Community

The most intuitive building systems are usually those that draw on hundreds of years of precedent. A slew of older but time-tested building techniques are in redux, albeit with some innovative twists, from mass timber to plant-based concrete alternatives to earth-based compounds. We can insulate whole buildings with fungus; we can create whole neighborhoods that act as carbon sinks. Anything new is old, only perhaps a bit more streamlined. This is certainly the case with strawbale homes. In the

Pittsburgh’s Mill 19 Is a Postindustrial Innovation Hub

The Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, which hugs a U-shaped curve in the Monongahela River, was once a pivotal center in the city’s steel empire. Along the riverbend stands Mill 19, a narrow former factory that is nearly one-third of a mile long. It was once occupied by LTV Coke Works, which closed in 1997, making it the last steel mill to operate within city limits. Today, Steel City’s continuing renaissance into an industrial hub for robotics and AI tech is thoroughly embodied in the gut renova

Boston Leads Large U.S. Cities in Decarbonization Efforts Thanks to New Progressive Energy Code

Standardized building codes basically exist to keep roofs from caving in and building materials from jeopardizing our health. There’s a reason such codes are called “baseline”; they achieve the bear minimum standards required to keep occupants relatively safe. They are prescriptive. Accessibility, means of egress, basic ventilation, structural integrity, and so forth are all critical factors within the International Building Code (IBC). Energy efficiency and high performance, however, are not.

U.S. Government Has Unveiled First-Ever Federal Building Performance Standard

Late last year the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled the country’s first-ever proposed emissions standard for federal buildings. In a nutshell, the government’s targets are twofold: cut energy use and electrify equipment and appliances in 30% of federally owned building space by 2030; and achieve net-zero emissions in all federal buildings by 2045. A Federal Building Performance Standard (BPS) is a huge deal, if for no other reason because there is no precedent for one, at least not in the U

Eco-Conscious Housing Solutions: A sustainbility-focused approach to neighborhood development challenges the status quo. But how much?

There is more than a fine line between doing less harm and doing good. Doing less harm means questioning the status quo without actually defying it. Doing good is giving more than one takes. Most home builders who aspire to achieve “sustainability” are engaging in the former, regardless of what their marketing says. “A new housing model is rising from the dirt” reads a 2021 CNBC article about FivePoint Valencia, the planned 21,500-home, 15,000-acre neighborhood in southern California. The devel

Congress Passes Legislation Focused on Resilience and Equity

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Minnesota’s GreenStep Cities Program Quietly Changes the State, One City at a Time

In the town Hutchinson, a 400-kilowatt, 975-panel solar array is mounted on ballasts above a 1970s-era city dump—the largest landfill solar project in Minnesota. In St. Cloud, the city’s wastewater treatment plant is close to 100-percent powered by renewable energy sources. In Duluth, city leaders are developing a replicable framework for resilient energy planning that could be adopted in other communities. These green energy projects are far from isolated examples in Minnesota. In fact, Minneso

"We Need To Integrate Everything": Arturo Vittori’s Warka Village Nears Completion In Cameroon

With principal funding from Vittori’s U.S.-based non-profit Warka Water, established in 2016, the roughly one-acre village and its components are being built by local carpenters and artisans to accommodate up to 100 Pygmy peoples from the rainforest community known as Bibambi II. It includes eight communal homes, or Warka Houses, each with a footprint of about 260 square feet and designed with naturally insulated flooring and right tight roofs. There are also designated areas for an atelier, gar

Duluth Embarks on an Effort to Restore Its Embattled Shoreline

At the western tip of Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota, is the world’s most inland port, with heavy freight activity along its rocky shores. It draws an average of 6.7 million tourists each year, many of whom get at least a taste of the city’s 370 miles of trails. Duluth is also a particularly long city. It boasts 16.9 miles of lakeshore, which is a little more than half the length of the city’s linear span (the rest hugs the St. Louis River to the south). Neighborhoods like Kenwood and Chester

The (Green) Walls Become the World: Global Design Leaders Share Insights on the Future of Biophilia

One of these built prototypes is the Oasia Hotel Downtown, which is described by WOHA as a “permeable, furry, verdant tower of green.” In what amounts to an orchestrated stack of sky gardens and green terraces masquerading as a building, the city center high-rise, located a short walk from Marina Bay, is a literal beacon of biodiversity, inviting dozens of birds, bees, and other fauna to its façades daily, and boasting a total vegetated area (2,742 m2) greater than the building’s plot area (2,31

In Detroit, Architecture that Stands Out While Also Listening

Developed by Bedrock Detroit, City Modern, encompassing 8.4 acres and containing more than 400 residential units, is one of the largest new developments in Motor City history. About 22,000 square feet of ground-level retail space hugs the site’s edges, while modern, high-density residential buildings—both low and mid-rise—rub elbows with century-old Victorian homes (four historical homes were restored as multi-family rentals). Modest setbacks give way to sidewalks, and pedestrian mews form the s

Silver Bay Looks to the Future with AIA Minnesota’s Minnesota Design Team

“We’re all about growth—more businesses, more housing,” said Kirsten and Wes, a young married couple with four dogs. They lamented Silver Bay’s lack of a dog park and residents’ frequent inability to visit Black Beach due to the parking lot “filling up with tourists.” “Tourist dollars are doing more harm than good,” said longtime resident Jim, citing pollution and other environmental concerns. His demeanor suggested he was there as a check on the system. When asked if he shared the concerns of

School shootings are not a design issue

This one feels different, I thought to myself. A troubled boy in arrested development—legally an adult but not yet old enough to purchase alcohol, armed with an arsenal of legally owned firearms—stormed into an elementary school and murdered more than a dozen children. I was repulsed by the carnage, this senseless act of evil perpetrated on pure innocents. And yet in the ensuing days, I found a sliver of hope that this time—this time!—some sensible laws would be passed at the federal level that

The State of Mass Timber in Minnesota

This feature appears in the 192-page, 2022 ENTER print annual, available for purchase here. What’s old is new again: Mass-timber construction is having a moment. Since 2013, more than 1,300 mass-timber projects across all 50 states have been constructed or are now in design, according to the nonprofit WoodWorks. In the last few years, across select regions of the country, architects and developers of large-scale mass-timber buildings have engaged in their own “race into the sky,” with new world

Meeting the (Living Building) Challenge

This feature appears in the 192-page, 2022 ENTER print annual, available for purchase here. Green building certifications are many and varied. From LEED to BREEAM, Passive House to WELL, designers and builders across the globe utilize these programs to guide their efforts and spotlight the often hidden virtues of sustainable approaches. While all of these certifications help move the needle in addressing climate change, the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge
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Art Criticism | Art History

“Remember That You Will Die: Death Across Cultures” at the Rubin Museum of Art

Memento Mori is the Latin-Christian maxim translated as “Remember that you will die.” It is altogether sobering and, in some perverted sense, comforting; it’s an epitaph for the masses—commoners and kings alike. It is also the subject of the ’s latest offering, of the same name, and although said offering is a modest one, this exhibition is, quite literally, breath-taking.
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