William McDonough is an architect who believes and strives for product designs which promote economic and environmental vitality. To accomplish this, he takes into account how building should be made with consideration to “all children, all species, for all time”. This, in essence, was the focus of his presentation. The presentation begins with a reference to Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which is famous for and regarded as the catalyst for society’s environmental awareness.
Following this introduction, McDonough illustrates how society has yet to take into consideration the harmful effect their products have on not only the environment, but on our very children as well. He clearly articulates the problems designers are facing, but are ignoring, through his “rubber duck” example. Upon describing the problems of the present mentality behind designing products, McDonough shows a short clip which suggests that there is a solution.
He then goes into asking what the fundamental question for designers is. In other words, what are their intentions? Once their intentions are clarified, then steps can be taken to pursue projects which complement their intentions. The intention of a designer must be to create something that promotes economic and environmental prosperity; anything short of that will lead to problems, as we have clearly seen. The main focus is then turned onto architecture.
McDonough uses examples to illustrate how the structures of buildings are environmentally unfriendly; they do not satisfy the designer’s intentions. Therefore, change must be implemented. To fully satisfy their intention, designers are challenged to create products that are essentially alive, i. e. it must be able to grow, use free energy from sunlight, and have an open metabolism. McDonough then goes into breaking down each of these elements of life, and how they influence the designers work.
To conclude his presentation, McDonough shows some projects that have met the call, and satisfied the new goal of designers. In addition to those already finished products, McDonough goes into detail about the plan behind new cities being built in China. It was very interesting and extremely impressive to see the next generation of architect. The city was in fact “alive” in that it met all the criteria and elements for life described earlier. It was absolutely fascinating.