The writing is on the wall: The climate is changing. So must architecture. Crucially, some architecture organizations are taking note. On Wednesday, New York City–based design nonprofit Van Alen Institute announced its latest initiative called Climate Council—an exchange platform for architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, and researchers to investigate and intervene in climate change–related issues in communities around North America. The council members will make investigative trips to destinations that are experiencing or expecting major environmental changes. Looking beyond cities to landscapes and ecosystems, the Climate Council will offer professional advice and share best practices.
“We have been creating projects to tackle the impact of climate change for years,” said executive director David van der Leer in a press release. “With the launch of the Climate Council, we are deepening our focus on one of the most critical issues of our time.”
Expanding on Van Alen's International Council model, the new initiative is co-chaired by New York–based WXY Studio founder Claire Weisz, FAIA, and Denver-based Civitas president Mark Johnson, Assoc. AIA.
“The Council gives us access to people who are experiencing the effects of our changing world first hand,” Johnson said in the same release. “It is our hope that by bringing our diverse council members together with real issues and evidence, that we will spark our thinking, dig deeper, and find ways to bring best practices into every aspect of our professional work.”
“Bringing experts together in real places of extreme climate impact is where new connections are made, and ideas are exchanged,” said Weisz in the release. “It’s important that the Climate Council is happening on a continental level.”
Other council members are Kishore Varanasi, urban design director at CBT; Bry Sarté, founder of Sherwood Design Engineers; Steven Baumgartner, principal and urban systems and infrastructure strategist at SmithGroupJJR; Gary Sorge, vice president and director of landscape architecture at Stantec; Chris Reed, founding director of Stoss Landscape Urbanism; Alison Sant, co-founder of Studio for Urban Projects; and Erik Verboon, AIA, principal and managing director at Walter P Moore.
The team will make their first trip in July, when they will visit Sacramento and the Central Valley in California to meet with individuals and groups working on climate change research and adaptation.