Ideas Worth Spreading: TEDx Comes to Brattleboro
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By HB Lozito Ideas worth spreading have a way of crossing disciplines. At a recent TED event, HB Lozito found links to green building that may surprise you. Like many other people, I have been lusting after attending a TED talk for the la... An analogous idea in green building would be designing for future uses. I was reminded of Paula Melton and Nadav Malin's recent Environmental Building News article, "Re-Framing Sustainability: Green Structural Engineering," where the ideas of designing for future uses, adaptability, and optimization are discussed at length. They cite the example of the Ames Building in Boston, which, because of a concealed frame and other challenges was a more expensive and resource-intensive remodel than if the original designers had considered future use--or, in Leopold's terms, thought 'like a mountain.' Later in the day, composer and recording artist Derrick Jordan with Maestro Hugh Keelan invited attendees to reimagine an orchestra through Jordan's new piece, Windham Loops. Looping is a technique to create music through repeating audio samples. Keelan points out that Beethoven did this in many of his 19th Century symphonies , and many artists are doing this today. Kanye West's 2005 song "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" loops a sample from Shirley Bassey's familiar 1971 song "Diamonds are Forever ." He has taken a familiar piece of music and repositioned the phrases into something new. In Windham Loops, Jordan has written an orchestral piece using the musicians themselves as human loopers. The Windham Orchestra musicians are doing the work of Kanye's producers. In this live performance the Orchestra is repeating musical phrases to create a looped background over which Jordan plays a melody. By meshing centuries-old instruments and musical ideas with the hip-hop/electronica influences of looping, he is experimenting with and reinventing parts of what it is to play with an orchestra. The same thing is happening today in the world of green architecture and design. By sampling familiar aspects of buildings and reimagining their impacts, green architects, designers and engineers are composing entirely new ways to construct. Take the example of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living . Its elements are easily recognizable--walls, a roof, a wastewater treatment system. But here, in this new style of building, each functions within the whole in a new way. The folks at BNIM sampled these familiar architectural elements and looped them together into the first building in the world to achieve both Living status and LEED Platinum. I love TED talks because they help me think about the world in new ways. What's your "idea worth spreading"?