Sustainability in design and also life 

Hey folks:

This week’s post will be short and sweet. I don’t have much to report to you other than the fact that things are moving along really well. Architects are doing their architect thing, we are writing like crazy, and our financials are slowly coming together like a meticulously-constructed Lego spaceship. Tomorrow, we have our second in-depth meeting with JCHE and Treehouse to review our proposal in full. This will be the first time we are in the same room with both JCHE and Treehouse, and it will be really interesting to see where opinions overlap and differ on the specific programming and design elements.

Yesterday, Sam Levy and I stopped by a meeting at the MIT Age Lab to talk to about thirty 85+ year olds on their ideal living environment, and what multigenerational living meant to them. We met a woman who was a secretary for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, a woman who founded the co-housing development in Cambridge, and a nationally acclaimed fashion designer. These folks were just plain cool. We both had a really fun and uplifting time talking in smaller groups about how to keep our proposal senior-friendly and welcoming.

In sum, we’re working our butts off to wrap it all together to the point where we can begin editing like mad. Our goal is to have it all written by tomorrow, leaving the final two weeks for writing revision, design refinement, and clarifications on vision and programming. It’s all happening. The biggest challenge this past week for all of us has been balance – between our other classes, our work obligations, and the nagging reminder that we are graduating in a few short weeks and should be manically applying to jobs at every spare moment.

A word to the wise: while grad school in general can be challenging, get ready for the last semester. Talk about a final pressure test. I’m trying to adopt a sustainable methodology for getting all of my work done but it’s not easy. I find myself making a lot more lists than is really necessary these days.

On a lighter note:  Ryan Hanslik is a really bright architect from the Boston Architectural College team and he has been thinking through sustainability quite a bit over the past week (green building practices, passive design, and innovative design). We keep a running thread of ideas on our slack thread and yesterday he sent around a quick mock-up of some of his sustainable elements for the proposal. The image below was about a third of the size it is now, so you could barely see that the woman on the right is holding two giant mushrooms and the guy in the middle has two canes. This was a pretty great find on one of our more serious days, and I thought I would share it with you. I don’t know about you but this is 100 percent my sense of humor.


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Zoomed in shot of Ryan’s sustainability piece – party on the lawn.

Today on Affordable Housing IRL! Meet the new green face of affordable housing


A recent article in the Huffington Post outlined recent efforts to address a longstanding stigma around affordable housing design through green building practices and refined design. Here’s a great quote from the article on why this stigma exists in the first place:
“This soul-sapping approach to aesthetics is par for the course for affordable housing, which is meant not only to look low-budget but also low-effort. Conventional thinking on affordability proceeds from the misguided premise that anything well-designed will be, and look, expensive so it follows that design should not be a priority. Further, the argument goes, anything well-designed will be too appealing to eligible tenants, thus discouraging them from ever leaving. So affordable housing should not only be cheap, it should look cheap. As a result, much affordable housing is more punitive than homey, by design.”

Published On: March 30, 2016 |
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