The G-List + the A-List

bilbao_smThe top picks from the “most green” and “most important” lists: William McDonough’s Adam Joseph Lewis Center (left) and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

This week, when Lance Hosey released the G-List, his survey of the top green buildings since 1980, he was responding to Vanity Fair’s celebrity rankings of the top-rated buildings of the last 30 years, which anointed Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao as the most important building of our time. But Gehry’s name was nowhere to be found on the G-List. Why was I searching for some signs of him among the greens?

Well, a couple months back, when I picked up on Gehry’s glib dismissal of LEED, I mentioned that our A-List architects have stood on the sidelines, even as the rest of the profession was struggling with the major issues of our time, like global warming and the now 20-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead of debating the reasons for the disconnect between the heroes of architecture and the rank and file, I found myself in the midst of an anti-LEED, pro-Gehry debate. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that  indeed Gehry incorporates green moves into his buildings and that my understanding of his work was at best sketchy, at worst, ignorant. So I’ve been humbled, and was willing to learn something new–therefore my search for Gehry on the G-List. After all, the people in Lance’s survey are known  leaders in the green movement. If anyone, they would certainly know if Gehry or other American stars have made significant contributions to the knowledge base of sustainable design. (I must admit here that I was one of the 150 people Lance surveyed, along with such well-known greens as Bob Berkebile, Bill Browning, Will Bruder, and Pliny Fisk.)

I agree with Lance. If our understanding of the built environment is to grow, and contribute to solving some of the most complex environmental and social problems of our time, the G-List and the A-List must start working together. Everyone else is learning to collaborate, to bring their expertise, art, and willpower to serve the greater good.  Why can’t architects do the same?

Previously: You Are So Wrong, Frank Gehry!

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