William McDonough & Make it Right

I watched Larry King Live the other night. I wanted to see his interview with Brad Pitt and hear about the new effort Pitt has started down in New Orleans called Make It Right. His project is to build 150 affordable, green homes in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans help victims of Hurricane Katrina. What attracted me to the segment and what I wanted to hear more about was the environmental aspects of the new homes. And, of course, Brad Pitt is great to look at, too. 🙂

Pitt has partnered with William McDonough + Partners, an environmental architecture. I had never heard of William McDonough but was thoroughly impressed with his ideas. I did some research on him and found a presentation he gave at TED. WOW!!  Some of the ideas, he spoke about were

  • design humility
  • cradle to cradle – with goods returned to the soil or back to the manufacturer in a continuous loop of creation and recycle
  • building like a garden
  • the path of mutual destruction if China intends to grow like us and if we continue to live like we do
  • Competition – the idea of getting fit together, training together

One of the more chilling points he made was when he he brought up the image of rubber duck. This bathtub rubber duck has a warning on it that says "some of the materials used to produce this item may cause cancer".  He then asked what type of society creates harmful goods and then sells them to children. You do begin to wonder about the point of consumption and design.

But his presentation wasn’t tragic – it was inspiring to hear about the work he is doing in China to help them meet their urgent housing needs yet protects the environment and the quality of life (access to clean water and air) of the people, who will live there. I began to wonder why  he is working here!

The work that some people are doing in this field is so innovative and inspiring that you begin wonder, why isn’t this the way we are thinking and building and living.  I loved the comment he made about trees. Think how difficult it would be to design and build a tree..and yet we knock it down to write on it.


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