Ask the Architect: What is Sustainability? #Green #Architect #ilmaBlog

What is sustainability?

Sustainability has become a “buzz” word which has been used to describe conservation and protection of the environment we live in. 

Due to the fact that the general public (through old and new media platforms) has become increasing knowledgeable about climate change and pollution (from print news articles, online websites, documentaries and films that focus on the wrongdoings of companies), they are holding companies accountable and voting amongst industry competitors with the dollars they spend on goods and services.  An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 American concert film/documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about former United States Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming. The film features a comprehensive slide show that, by Gore’s own estimate, he has presented over a thousand times to audiences worldwide.  Films like “An Inconvenient Truth” can shed light on the way that people and companies play a part in the world we live in.  Because we live in a world of limited resources it is important that we focus not only on ourselves, but the earth and all its eco-systems (plants and animals included, not just human beings).  Human beings have the greatest impact on the planet and need to be accountable for how we live our lives.  Companies and organizations need to do the same.

How can we make sustainable development a reality?

This response focuses on a world driven by economics: Impact from “Corporations” & “Organizations” are two of many ways to help materialize sustainability because they shape the lives we live through community, what we buy, where we learn, where we work and how we choose to spend our income.

The European Commission (2010) defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as ‘‘a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’’ A common definition in the management literature comes from Davis (1973, p. 312), who defines CSR as ‘‘the firm’s considerations of, and response to, issues beyond the narrow economic, technical, and legal requirements of the firm to accomplish social [and environmental] benefits along with the traditional economic gains which the firm seeks (Source: The benefits and costs of corporate social Responsibility” by Geoffrey B. Sprinkle, Laureen A. Maines) .”

In creating and distributing CSR Reports, companies not only share their reports with their customers and their employees, but in the process, they are able to reflect on what they are doing and how they can make improvements.  In the words of W. Edwards Deming, “Measure of productivity does not lead to improvement in productivity.”  However, by recognizing attributes that make the organization unique help move it forward.  By identifying key metrics that impact the business the organization will be able to better address the financial, social, and environmental benefits, commonly referred to as the Triple Bottom Line.

Customers need to be aware of companies that may be using “greenwashing.”  There are times when organization may not want to directly promote their activities through advertisements because it may appear like “pinkwashing” or “greenwashing.”  Savy customers may be turned away by marketing tactics.  More important is to do the right thing, keep employees motivated and focused on the organization’s values, and report in their annual CSR report (Source: Marquis, Christopher, Pooja Mehta Shah, Amanda Elizabeth Tolleson, and Bobbi Thomason. “The Dannon Company: Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (A).” Harvard Business School Case 410-121, April 2010. (Revised September 2011)).

How sustainability can be measured?

Because I have focused the past 20 years of my career primarily in the higher education industry I will focus my response on what I know, instead of tackling this problem from a larger more global perspective like I have in the responses above.  However, it is with much thought and consideration that I share these insights because I strongly believe that other industry sectors can prosper from this information.  This is by no means an end to all measurements of sustainability but it certainly is a good start to put a dent in this massive undertaking!

For the past few years APPA/NACUBO has compiled a survey of institutions of higher education.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is a membership organization representing more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country. (https://www.nacubo.org) APPA is the gathering place for educational facilities professionals, dedicated to the ongoing evolution of the profession.  Although their name has changed over the past 100 years their mission remains: “To support educational excellence with quality leadership and professional management through education, research and recognition (https://www.appa.org).”

APPA/NACUBO provides an annual survey on the self-reported information submitted by their constituents which is comprised of: (1) Community Colleges; (2) Small Institutions; (3) Comprehensive/Doctoral; and (4) Research Institutions (High and Very High Research Institutions). 

The following key performance indicators are measured, compiled and reported by APPA/NACUBO based on the one of 4 categories listed above:

  • Energy Use Intensity (measured KBTU per square foot)
  • Electrical (measured kW per square foot)
  • Water daily (measured average gallons per FTE student enrolled)
  • Recycled waste (measured in pounds annually per FTE student enrolled)
  • Garbage waste (measured in pounds annually per FTE student enrolled)
  • Carbon footprint (measured in metric tons CO2 per FTE student enrolled)

The report illustrates the year-over-year comparison of results from the survey, as well as comparisons by type of institution. APPA/NACUBO encourages the academic institutions of higher education to explore these findings as a starting point to better inform their campus decisions.

It is vital that each institution look at similar organizations (community colleges, small institutions, comprehensive/doctoral, and research universities). The survey reports raw data by gross square feet (GSF) and by student full-time equivalent (SFTE). The raw data can be used to evaluate and reduce consumption.

Further Reading:

https://www.nacubo.org/Topics/Facilities-and-Environmental-Compliance/Key-Facilities-Metrics-Survey

https://ilovemyarchitect.com/category/green/

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Frank_Cunha/answers

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


University Architect @FrankCunhaIII Leads Architectural Walking Tour of @MontclairStateU’s Campus for Architect Guests, @AIANJ AIA Newark Suburban #AIA #University #Architect

On May 18th, AIA Newark Suburban held a campus walking tour of Montclair State University led by fellow member, Architect Frank Cunha III, AIA.  The tour addressed the history of the campus and the way it has been designed and constructed to protect and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the occupants of the buildings and grounds.

Building on a distinguished history dating back to 1908, Montclair State University is a leading institution of higher education in New Jersey.  Designated a Research Doctoral University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the University’s 11 colleges and schools serve more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students with more than 300 doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate programs. Situated on a beautiful, 252-acre suburban campus just 12 miles from New York City, Montclair State delivers the instructional and research resources of a large public university in a supportive, sophisticated and diverse academic environment. University Facilities currently manages 70 buildings and approximately 5 million gross square feet of space on our campus. More information available: https://www.montclair.edu/about-montclair

Frank Cunha III, AIA, University Architect, has been with the University Facilities team since 2007.  Since graduating from the New Jersey Institute of Technology School of Architecture in 1998, he has obtained licenses to practice architecture in 9 states.  Frank is currently completing his Masters in Business Administration at Montclair State University and expects to graduate in May 2019.

Frank is passionate about strategic planning, architectural design and constructing of complex projects in a challenging and ever-changing environment.  He considers the environment, energy, and the health and wellness of the occupants during all phases of the project while addressing the programming needs to ensure the stakeholder’s program requirements are met and align with the organization’s mission, vision and values.

With the assistance of his design and construction teams, Frank has been responsible for many projects of various size and scope around campus. Some project highlights include: Student Recreation Center, Center for Environmental Life Sciences, Cali School of Music, School of Nursing, the Center for Computing and Information Science, Sinatra Hall, School of Business, Schmitt Hall and historic renovation and addition to College Hall, to name a few.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


New Project by @FC3Architect is Almost 100% Completed (Teaneck, NJ) #BeforeAndAfter #CustomResidential #Home

One of the things we enjoy doing is: Helping People Make Their Dreams Come True!!! Here is another example of a successful transformation we helped imagine for the homeowners.

One of our projects is nearly completed. We more than doubled the size of the existing residence by creating a dynamic link that opens up the garden into the home with a connecting link. This “knuckle” becomes a link from the old home (which serves as the existing den and existing kitchen on the lower level) to the new home which includes a new dining area and family room. Upstairs, the addition boasts a master suite allowing us to increase the size of the existing bedrooms. Click here to read the original post about this project.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

To see more projects by FC3 Architecture + Design, please click here.

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Bring Your Children to Work Day at @MontclairStateU #ArchWeek19 #CitizenArchitect #BlueprintForBetter #ilmaBlog #Architecture #UniversityArchitect

Brief Announcement
On April 25th, Frank Cunha III & Michael Chiappa participated in a Bring Your Children to Work Day at MSU where we were able to teach the children about architecture, planning, design and construction. We showed them the old ways, the current ways and the future ways that architects envision projects and help build the world around us.

About Bring Your Children to Work Day
National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is recognized on the fourth Thursday in April each year. This annual event is an educational program in the United States and Canada where parents take their children to work with them for one day.

Presentation
The following is the slideshow we presented to the children:

About the Event
This year some of the parents decided to focus on STEM and what it means to be an Architect….a profession that is both creative and artistic, yet methodical and scientific. We explored what it means to be an Architect and other STEM fields and how anyone, regardless of gender, race, religion or ethnicity can aspire to do great things. Architecture is just one of many pathways where we can lead through change and technology. We looked at old blue prints, 3-D modeling, 3-D printing, building materials, using our original 1908 building (College Hall) for context in describing the process and all of the wonderful people that it takes to conceive of a project — We looked at interior design and site design as part of the overall architectural design of a campus. We emphasized, that although not all the children will decide to become architects, it is important to understand what architects do and how to understand how we think and how/what we do. We all need to learn from each other and work as a team to get things done. It was exciting to see the children work with the campus hand on when we had them work on an interactive puzzle of the campus. One of the students said: ” The campus is like a small city.” It was really fulfilling to see that she understood that the university is like a small city. It felt great to make an impact and promote architecture to young children.

Coincidentally, Architecture Week is held every April as part of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) nationwide celebration of our built environment, so that made the day even more special to me.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


New Campus Center at Springfield Technical Community College #UniversityArchitect #Rehabilitation #Community #College #Architecture #Transformation #ilmaBlog

All Photos: Chuck Choi

Combining historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and contemporary architecture, Springfield Technical Community College’s new Campus Center repurposes a 764-foot-long by 55-foot-wide warehouse building originally constructed between 1846 and 1864.

A major aspect of the Springfield, Massachusetts, University’s Campus Center is The Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons. The Campus Center and Student Learning Commons consolidate academic services and student life activities under one roof. Corten steel canopies along the building’s facade distinguish new entrances into each hub.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


What Will Higher Education Look Like 5, 10 or 20 Years From Now? Some Ways Colleges Can Reinvent Themselves #iLMA #eMBA #Innovation #Technology #Planning #Design #HigherEducation #HigherEd2030 #University #Architect

Introduction

Change is a natural and expected part of running a successful organization. Whether big or small, strategic pivots need to be carefully planned and well-timed. But, how do you know when your organization is ready to evolve to its next phase? Anyone that listens, watches, or reads the news knows about the rising cost of higher education and the increasing debt that education is putting on students and alumni and their families.

At a time when education is most important to keep up with increasing technological changes, institutions need to pivot or face imminent doom in an ever increasing competitive environment. Competition can come from startups or external factors in the higher education market therefore it is increasingly necessary for institutions of higher learning to take a different approach to their business operations.

This post will focus on:

  • Current Trends
  • Demographic Shifts
  • Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)
    • Changing Assumptions
    • Implications for the Physical Campus
    • Changing Trajectory
    • More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)
  • Driving Technologies
  • External Forces

Current Trends

  • Online education[i] has become an increasingly accepted option, especially when “stackable” into degrees.
  • Competency-based education lowers costs and reduces completion time for students.
  • Income Share Agreements[ii] help students reduce the risk associated with student loans.
  • Online Program Manager organizations benefit both universities and nontraditional, working-adult students.
  • Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers.
  • Pathway programs facilitate increasing transnational education[iii], which serves as an additional revenue stream for universities.

Demographic Shifts

According to data from the National Clearinghouse and the Department of Education[iv]:

  • The Average Age of a College/University Student Hovers Around Twenty-Seven (Though That Is Decreasing as The Economy Heats Up)
  • 38% of Students Who Enrolled In 2011 Transferred Credits Between Different Institutions At Least Once Within Six Years.
  • 38% of Students Are Enrolled Part-Time.
  • 64% of Students Are Working Either Full-Time or Part-Time.
  • 28% of Students Have Children of Their Own or Care For Dependent Family Members.
  • 32% of Students Are from Low-Income Families.
  • The Secondary Education Experience Has an Increasingly High Variation, Resulting In Students Whose Preparation For College-Level Work Varies Greatly.

Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)

The future of higher education depends on innovation. 

University leaders who would risk dual transformation are required to exercise full commitment to multiple, potentially conflicting visions of the future. They undoubtedly confront skepticism, resistance, and inertia, which may sway them from pursuing overdue reforms.[v]

Change is upon us.

“All universities are very much struggling to answer the question of: What does [digitization[vi]] mean, and as technology rapidly changes, how can we leverage it?” . . . . Colleges afraid of asking that question do so at their own peril.”[vii]

James Soto Antony, the director of the higher-education program at Harvard’s graduate school of education.

Changing Assumptions

Until recently the need for a physical campus was based on several assumptions:

  • Physical Class Time Was Required
  • Meaningful Exchanges Occurred Face to Face
  • The Value of an Institution Was Tied to a Specific Geography
  • Books Were on Paper
  • An Undergraduate Degree Required Eight Semesters
  • Research Required Specialized Locations
  • Interactions Among Students and Faculty Were Synchronous

Implications for the Physical Campus

  • Learning – Course by course, pedagogy is being rethought to exploit the flexibility and placelessness of digital formats while maximizing the value of class time.
  • Libraries – Libraries are finding the need to provide more usable space for students and faculty.  Whether engaged in study, research or course projects, the campus community continues to migrate back to the library.
  • Offices – While the rest of North America has moved to mobile devices and shared workspaces, academic organizations tend to be locked into the private, fixed office arrangement of an earlier era – little changed from a time without web browsers and cell phones. 
  • Digital Visible – From an institutional perspective, many of the implications of digital transformation are difficult to see, lost in a thicket of business issues presenting themselves with increasing urgency. 

Changing Trajectory

University presidents and provosts are always faced with the choice of staying the course or modifying the trajectory of their institutions.  Due to failing business models, rapidly evolving digital competition and declining public support, the stakes are rising.  All should be asking how they should think about the campus built for the 21st century.[viii]  J. Michael Haggans[ix] makes the following recommendations:

  • Build no net additional square feet
  • Upgrade the best; get rid of the rest
  • Manage space and time; rethink capacity
  • Right-size the whole
  • Take sustainable action
  • Make campus matter

More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)

  • The Rise of The Mega-University[x]
  • ; Public Private Partnerships (P3’s) Procurement Procedures Will Become More Prevalent
  • More Colleges Will Adopt Test-Optional Admissions
  • Social Mobility Will Matter More in College Rankings
  • Urban Colleges Will Expand[xi] — But Carefully
  • Financial Crunches Will Force More Colleges to Merge
  • The Traditional Textbook Will Be Hard to Find; Free and Open Textbooks
  • More Unbundling and Micro-Credentials
  • Continued Focus on Accelerating Mobile Apps
  • Re-Imagining Physical Campus Space in Response to New Teaching Delivery Methods
  • Transforming the Campus into A Strategic Asset with Technology
  • Education Facilities Become Environmental Innovators
  • Ethics and Inclusion: Designing for The AI Future We Want to Live In
  • Visibility (Transparency) And Connectedness
  • Sustainability from Multiple Perspectives
  • Better Customer Experiences with The Digital Supply Chain
  • Individualized Learning Design, Personalized Adaptive Learning
  • Stackable Learning Accreditation
  • Increased Personalization: More Competency-Based Education They’ll Allow Students to Master A Skill or Competency at Their Own Pace.
  • Adaptation to Workplace Needs They’ll Adapt Coursework to Meet Employer Needs for Workforce Expertise
  • Greater Affordability and Accessibility They’ll Position Educational Programs to Support Greater Availability.
  • More Hybrid Degrees[xii]
  • More Certificates and Badges, For Example: Micro-Certificates, Offer Shorter, More Compact Programs to Provide Needed Knowledge and Skills Fast[xiii]
  • Increased Sustainable Facilities – Environmental Issues Will Become Even More Important Due to Regulations and Social Awareness; Reduced Energy Costs, Water Conservation, Less Waste
  • Health & Wellness – Physical, Spiritual and Metal Wellbeing
  • Diversity and Inclusion Will Increase
  • Rise of The Micro-Campus[xiv] And Shared Campuses[xv]
  • E-Advising to Help Students Graduate
  • Evidence-Based Pedagogy
  • The Decline of The Lone-Eagle Teaching Approach (More Collaboration)
  • Optimized Class Time (70% Online, 30% Face to Face)
  • Easier Educational Transitions
  • Fewer Large Lecture Classes
  • Increased Competency-Based and Prior-Learning Credits (Credit for Moocs or From “Real World” Experience)[xvi]
  • Data-Driven Instruction
  • Aggressive Pursuit of New Revenue
  • Online and Low-Residency Degrees at Flagships
  • Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education[xvii]
  • The Architecture of The Residential Campus Will Evolve to Support the Future.
  • Spaces Will Be Upgraded to Try to Keep Up with Changes That Would Build In Heavy Online Usage.
  • Spaces Will Be Transformed and Likely Resemble Large Centralized, Integrated Laboratory Type Spaces. 
  • Living-Learning Spaces in Combination Will Grow, But On Some Campuses, Perhaps Not In The Traditional Way That We Have Thought About Living-Learning To Date.

Driving Technologies:

  • Emerging Technologies – Such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, And Artificial Intelligence – Will Eventually Shape What the Physical Campus Of The Future Will Look Like, But Not Replace It.[xviii]
  • Mobile Digital Transformation[xix]
  • Smart Buildings and Smart Cities[xx]
  • Internet of Things
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Including Natural Language Processing
  • Automation (Maintenance and Transportation Vehicles, Instructors, What Else?)
  • Virtual Experience Labs, Including: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality Learning, And Robotic Telepresence 
  • More Technology Instruction and Curricula Will Feature Digital Tools and Media Even More Prominently
  • New Frontiers For E-Learning, For Example, Blurred Modalities (Expect Online and Traditional Face-To-Face Learning to Merge)[xxi]
  • Blending the Traditional; The Internet Will Play Bigger Role in Learning
  • Big Data: Colleges Will Hone Data Use to Improve Outcomes

External Forces:

  • [xxii]: Corporate Learning Is A Freshly Lucrative Market
  • Students and Families Will Focus More on College Return On Investment, Affordability And Student Loan Debt
  • [xxiii]
  • Greater Accountability; Schools will be more accountable to students and graduates
  • Labor Market Shifts and the Rise of Automation
  • Economic Shifts and Moves Toward Emerging Markets
  • Growing Disconnect Between Employer Demands and College Experience 
  • The Growth in Urbanization and A Shift Toward Cities 
  • Restricted Immigration Policies and Student Mobility
  • Lack of Supply but Growth in Demand
  • The Rise in Non-Traditional Students 
  • Dwindling Budgets for Institutions[xxiv]
  • Complex Thinking Required Will Seek to Be Vehicles of Societal Transformation, Preparing Students to Solve Complex Global Issues

Sources & References:


[i] Online education is a flexible instructional delivery system that encompasses any kind of learning that takes place via the Internet. The quantity of distance learning and online degrees in most disciplines is large and increasing rapidly.

[ii] An Income Share Agreement (or ISA) is a financial structure in which an individual or organization provides something of value (often a fixed amount of money) to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed number of years.

[iii] Transnational education (TNE) is education delivered in a country other than the country in which the awarding institution is based, i.e., students based in country Y studying for a degree from a university in country Z.

[iv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/3/changing-demographics-and-digital-transformation

[v]Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/design_thinking_for_higher_education

[vi] Digitization is the process of changing from analog to digital form.

[vii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://qz.com/1070119/the-future-of-the-university-is-in-the-air-and-in-the-cloud

[viii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: http://c21u.gatech.edu/blog/future-campus-digital-world

[ix] Michael Haggans is a Visiting Scholar in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and Visiting Professor in the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology.  He is a licensed architect with a Masters of Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He has led architectural practices serving campuses in the US and Canada, and was University Architect for the University of Missouri System and University of Arizona.

[x] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/Trend19-MegaU-Main

[xi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.lincolninst.edu/sites/default/files/pubfiles/1285_wiewel_final.pdf

[xii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/this-is-the-future-of-college

[xiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.govtech.com/education/higher-ed/Why-Micro-Credentials-Universities.html

[xiv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://global.arizona.edu/micro-campus

[xv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/global_learning/a-new-global-model-the-micro-campus

[xvi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Future-Is-Now-15/140479

[xvii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/market_opportunities/looking-to-2040-anticipating-the-future-of-higher-education

[xviii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.eypae.com/publication/2017/future-college-campus

[xix] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/02/digital-transformation-quest-rethink-campus-operations

[xx] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://ilovemyarchitect.com/?s=smart+buildings

[xxi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/04/college-online-degree-blended-learning/557642

[xxii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://qz.com/1191619/amazon-is-becoming-its-own-university

[xxiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3029109/5-bold-predictions-for-the-future-of-higher-education

[xxiv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/state-funding-a-race-to-the-bottom.aspx

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Personal Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France #Paris #Fire #NotreDame #Reflection #Architecture #CarpeDiem

Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019

This week is Holy Week, when millions of Western Christians mark the death and resurrection of Jesus. Under normal circumstances, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris would have been preparing to display its holy relics to the faithful on Good Friday.

But as fire engulfed the sacred site on April 15, 2019, Catholics across the world reacted in horror and disbelief, particularly when the cathedral’s iconic spire toppled amid the flames.

For generations, Notre Dame Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer, and, even as religion in France has declined for decades, it remained the beating heart of French Catholicism, open every day for Mass.

Source: CNN

REFLECTION

When something that is tragic like the Notre Dame Cathedral fire occurs, it is important to take time to reflect on what happened.  First, I look at this tragedy as a Christian, then as the grandson of European immigrants, and finally as an Architect.  I reflect on these recent events using three distinct but entwined lenses:

  • As a Christian, I reflect on what it means to be Christian.  Although imperfect, we are all put on Earth to accomplish great things.  Some have more than others, but we all have our crosses to bear.  As Easter approaches, for many Christians around the world who celebrate this holiest of days it is a time of reflection and hope of things to come.  As Jesus said, you are not of this world (we belong to Him).  When these events happen it also makes us aware of our fleeting earthly lives.
  • As a grandson of Europeans, I feel a strong camaraderie with my neighbors in France.  As technology helps the world shrink we are becoming global citizens.  But as someone who has spent many summers and taken many trips to Europe (probably more than 30 trips over my four decades), I feel a strong connection to what happens in Europe.  I have the same feeling in my stomach that I had when 9-11 happened in New York City.  We take for granted that these beautiful structures will always be here with us.  These events remind us that we must cross off trips that are on our bucket lists sooner rather than later.
  • As an Architect, my primary objective is to safeguard the public.  Sure, I love great design and inspiring spaces as much as the next designer.  However, being an Architect means that we must put safety above all else.  When these events occur, I cannot help but think how vulnerable we are.  As Architects we are always trying to evoke safety and security into our projects – Many times decisions are made with money more than risk aversion.  A 100% safeguard world is not possible, but I challenge my fellow Architects to consider ways that we can educate and confront our clients to ensure that all our buildings are safe.  We are all human with earthly perspectives and we are all bound to mistakes as we manage economics with safety.  Take for example, the Seton Hall student housing fires that changed safety for campus of higher educations around the country.  Can this tragedy bring some good? Perhaps as leaders in our industry we can shape the safety and preservation of our landmarks and new building projects to ensure the safety of the occupants.

Churches, castles and forts are the primary reason I chose this profession. Whenever we lose a structure of significance it is like losing a loved one. Like life itself, our art and architecture must be cherished because it is all temporary after all. Carpe Diem.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook