“It’s the architect’s responsibility to speak holistically,” said ZGF’s Otto Condon to Diana Budds of Fast Company’s Co.Design. “We can’t just speak about beauty and amenity; it has to be about equity, social justice, economics, and good return on investment.”
Stewardship of the natural and built environment is at the heart of our work at ZGF, and it informs our holistic approach to regenerative and resilient urban planning. Our work in regenerative urbanism ranges from large and complex district-scale initiatives, such as master planning new regenerative and Smart Cities around the world; to ecodistricts within existing major global cities; and occupant-level initiatives, such as high-performance, low-impact buildings.
ZGF was an early innovator and adopter of the ecodistrict concept that was, in part, founded on ZGF’s design of Portland’s Pearl District and the SW Ecodistrict in Washington D.C., the first Government Agency approved ecodistrict in the U.S.. Both projects employed serial stakeholder engagement, valued use of storm water, green infrastructure, and district energy best practices in the service of creating the next generation of Smart City design.
These and other advanced strategies developed through our planning and urban design work in the world’s largest LEED® ND Plan Platinum-certified Smart City, Kashiwa-no-ha, Japan are being translated to ZGF projects at a district scale in Wakaba District, Japan’s Makuhari New City, San Francisco’s Central SoMa Ecodistrict, and in new mixed-use neighborhoods in Tbilisi, Georgia and Kiev, Ukraine. At an occupant scale they are applied across ZGF projects including the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center, the U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Center South Building 1202, and the Caltech Bechtel Residence, Caltech’s first new student dormitory in over 50 years, designed to be net zero water and net zero energy.
A city designed and managed to be both regenerative and resilient can be a win for everyone. It can be a catalyst to occupant health and happiness, an effective foil for climate change, and can lower operating and real estate costs. This holistic approach to our cities and ecodistricts represents a win at every level of the urban environment, and strengthens cities and citizens in preparation for future growth and crises alike.