May 16, 2008
Letters to the Editor

Summary: This week, members sound off about Mario Botta’s distain of supermarkets as a building type, the AIA’s not backing just one sustainability rating system, and the lack of a definition of sustainability itself.

Re: Sun, Soil, Spirit: The Architecture of Mario Botta

I have always admired the work of Mr. Botta.

My thought moves to his easy dismissal of the supermarket. Since he hates to go to the supermarket, why doesn’t he suggest a solution?

The need for food has not been diminished by globalization. Over the years, I have managed the delivery of nearly 80 supermarkets and have yet to see a critic of Mr. Botta’s stature offer an effective and relevant solution that is beautiful, not banal. All too often the reference for a possible solution to the current supermarket is some non-existent romantic historical allusion to an open-air market or a specific example such as Pike Place market in Seattle, which is notably unique and apparently sort of anomaly. In many communities where there is no farm-to-market industry, the supermarket is most often the only avenue for delivery of food to the family. The global society Mr. Botta speaks of, does not favor butchers and bakers as highly as pop-singers, professional athletes, and engineers, making the traditional agglomeration of specialty shops that sell food nearly impossible to create in most neighborhoods.

The supermarket has evolved as a building type—like the library and church—to meet the needs of people. If Mr. Botta does not think the supermarket has reached its potential, I ask him, on behalf of the many who have tried, to please take the time to show us how he would approach a solution.

—Ty Morrison, AIA
Project Manager, WinCo Foods
Boise, Idaho

Re: GBI Releases Proposed American National Standard for Public Comment

AIA needs to back one horse, and consistently so. Posting information about GBI is only encouraging its usage. Most architects are already involved with LEED® and the Green Building Council. How many different standards are going to be developed, and why are we so unwilling to stand up for ourselves? This is a cost issue, a time issue, and a fee issue for firms already investing in LEED certification. We do not need a second standard. Where is the AIA in this fight?

—William E. Evans, AIA
Vice President, The Lukmire Partnership Inc.
Arlington, Va.

Ed. note: The AIA does not endorse any one green rating system; rather, the Institute “supports the development and use of rating systems and standards that promote the design and construction of communities and buildings that contribute to a sustainable future.” For details, see the AIA Position Statement on Sustainable Architectural Practice.

Re: AIA Releases Study of Three Green Building Rating Systems

It is amazing to me that the AIA can continue to blather about “sustainability” and never define the term (unless you can believe the COTE puffery is a definition). As I understand it, the AIA’s Board is still wrestling with a definition even though they have already decreed that the topic must be addressed in the AIA’s CE requirements.

If the AIA really believes in the bogus concept of “carbon neutrality,” it might start by holding conventions every other year ... or every third year. Walk the walk ... don’t just talk the talk. That might help to reduce the Sasquatch-size footprint they currently leave annually. I don’t think this is likely to happen. It is also not likely that the AIA will develop a definition of “sustainability” that will pass the straight-face test. The AIA does not lead ... it follows. Uncle Al points the way ... (even though the IPCC has recently indicated that, due to a lack of popular interest and in order to enhance global income re-distribution, the global warming scare has been re-scheduled for 2015).

If the AIA really wants to be on the bleeding edge (though this might be more appropriate for our landscape architect brethren), it should develop a policy position on plant rights ... particularly vegetables ... weeds not so much. Think of it ... broccoli, spinach, and zucchini offsets!

—Michael S. Adams, AIA
Principal, Enlign Consultants
Fort Collins, Colo.

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