William McDonough’s Talk @ TED

Through various chicanes and twists I stumbled today on a 20-minute talk from TED 2005 by architect and designer William McDonough. There is of course much discussion of sustainability at events like this, but moreso than most he’s a guy who’s walking the walk. The video describes a building complex designed for The Gap headquarters as a bird sanctuary, rolling turf fields for wildlife resting atop a Ford plant in Michigan, and a sustainability-engineered city in China. It made for good reading while eating Cheerios but more than that it shows that sustainability could be achievable on a mass-scale. And rather that employing nichey design firms like his for special products, in his book Cradle to Cradle (which I will be picking up, bien sur) he argues that it is the responsibility of every designer and architect of every product and building must understand the context of their designs.

Within the talk he made the fascinating point that if China destroys the planet pursuing least-cost goods production, and the US destroys the planet with the least-cost distribution and consumption mechanisms while sending all of its money back to China, that the consequences for both economies and societies are dire. He refers to this as its own form of Mutually Assured Destruction. An interesting point in itself.