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Harvard launches ‘design-centric’ center for green buildings and cities

One goal is to alter the built environment’s energy consumption patterns.

October 15, 2014 |
Photo courtesy Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) has launched a new research center that is focused on advancing the energy efficiency of buildings through better design.

The impetus behind the Center for Green Buildings and Cities is what the design school’s dean, Mohsen Mostafavi, describes as a “rapidly urbanizing global economy,” in which cities are building new structures “on a massive scale.” Mohsen contends that this dynamic has led to energy consumption patterns that need to be changed to avoid “dramatic environmental consequences. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is absolutely critical.”

The Center’s director is Ali Malkawi, a GSD professor who specializes in architectural technology and computation. Dr. Malkawi has also consulted on numerous construction projects, including airport designs, super towers, factories, and commercial and residential building.

The Center is pursuing a “design-centric strategy,” which links research outcomes to the development of new processes, systems, and products. To stimulate ideas and set its agenda, the Center will hold its inaugural Challenge Conference on Nov. 7, whose presenters will include James Carpenter, founder of James Carpenter Design Associates; Gordon Gill, a founding partner of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Phil Harrison, president and CEO of Perkins + Will; Alejandro Murat, CEO of Infonavit, which provides financing for affordable housing in Mexico; and Joshua Prince-Ramus, a principal of Rex-NYC.

“As the Center gains momentum, its research trajectory will be guided by the outcome of both our preliminary research projects and the feedback from the focused symposia organized by the Center,” its website states.

The Center is backed by Evergrande Group, the giant China-based property developer that recently announced that it would invest nearly $15 billion to build 9.2 gigawatts of photovoltaic projects in that country, according to the National Business Daily newspaper. The terms of Evergrande’s support of the Center were not disclosed. 

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