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METRO TALK SPOKANE’S ARCHITECTURAL CROSSROAD


Magner Sanborn Matthew Collins, Uptic Studios Spokane just recently held a competition


for those already employing green building- design in their projects. Rathmann and Lerner were two of the 10x10x10 presenters. The 10x10x10 Green Building Slam at the


Magic Lantern, in the Saranac (March 28, 2012), belied the importance of celebrating the


using better building. The Northwest Eco- Building Guild and Cascadia Green Building Council sponsored it. “There are a lot of amazing architects,


engineers and designers in this area working on green and sustainable building,” says Alli Kingfisher, one of a dozen people working to bring this event, the first one, to Spokane. Ten people, ten slides and ten minutes were their constraints. She


emphasizes that awareness and


celebration are key to this public engagement of ten “builders” who have an eye for how their projects affect water use and containment, landscaping design, energy efficiency, and sustainable material use. How much waste is produced and how that waste is taken care – i.e. recycled, reused and reduced in volume – also play a huge role in the sustainable designs of these projects. As a Washington Department of Ecology


employee, Alli Kingfisher’s job is to look at the life cycle of materials used in building and construction, and her marching orders are centered around connecting to


36 SPOKANE CDA • May • 2012 innovative builders and designers


businesses to help educate them on the value of using materials that are not toxic in their production, use and disposal. Not all ten projects in the Spokane slam


were buildings. Two – the redevelopment of water management swales along Broadway and Lincoln, and the photovoltaic lighting design used for the Spokane Convention Center parking lot – are high profile and many people


noticing their sustainable design features.


It’s the Thermostat, Dummy Here’s a well-established fact: residential


buildings use almost 40 percent of the primary energy and approximately 70 percent of the electricity in the United States. Lerner, Kingfisher, Cascadia and architects and builders like Kurt Rathmann, another one of the this year’s 10x10x10 presenters, know the energy used by the building sector continues to increase, primarily because new buildings are constructed faster than old ones are retired. This economic resiliency Rathmann


purposes is echoed by many, including the non-profit organization Strong Towns headed up by Chuck Marohn. “At Strong Towns, we are most interested


in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial


success or failure? What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era — our post-World War II pattern of development — operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long- term liabilities.” What is going wrong with American


see them daily without


cities and suburbs is a whole other set of articles. For the small architects of Spokane, they understand how hard their industry got hit in this downward economy. Diane Georgopulis, president of the Boston Society of Architects,


said,


level are kind of the canaries in the mine. When development dries up, architects are probably the first people to know.” Gage and Rathmann are ready to work


both ends of the “economic haves and have nots.” They understand what the collective force of true sustainability and deep green can do. Rathmann is a bit more severe: He believes


as a society we have overreached the good life and American Dream and underutilized our resiliency and rugged individualism.


This is a follow-up to an article in the March 2012 issue.


Paul K. Haeder is a freelance writer who worked in Spokane as a community college instructor and journalist for over 10 years.


“Architects at some


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