Each of the two feature sections in this issue of American Builders Quarterly is especially close to my heart.
One investigates how fine art can be incorporated into building practices, an angle not often explored within the pages of ABQ. So much of architecture, construction, and even design is rooted in technical and analytical aspects. But underneath all the specs, spreadsheets, and SWOT analyses lives a foundational idea, a vision to bring to life. Hearing from five facilities designers and directors on how their projects have been defined by some type of visual art feels like a return to a raw form of creativity.
A strong purveyor of that creativity is right on the cover: Tom Buechele. The vice president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s campus operations shares the story of how the illustrious institution’s new gallery came to fruition. Not only was it built backwards in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown, but it marks the first time the school has had a gallery with a street-level presence in the heart of downtown Chicago—one that will surely draw in visitors from around the world.
A former art student myself, who attended college just a few from blocks from SAIC, I met with and interviewed Buechele and was able to witness the gallery firsthand. It honestly felt a bit like a homecoming, and I couldn’t be prouder to spotlight the new SAIC buildout in a publication I manage as a result of my own artistic education.
The decarbonization section is more of a classic for ABQ—you’ll find the theme of sustainability in every single issue, guaranteed. But this time we took a more focused perspective, understanding how large companies are moving from basic measures, like recycling programs, to full-fledged strategies on achieving net zero in their carbon emissions.
We’re told our whole lives to be aware of how we interact with the world—turn off the lights when you leave the room, pick up litter on the street when you see it. I was a founding member of my junior high’s recycling “Green Team,” and back then, I believed that putting a soda can in a big blue bin had a direct correlation to the preservation of polar bears.
While our small actions as citizens matter to the planet, a greater responsibility inevitably falls to those with the biggest carbon impact. Learning exactly how companies are expanding their efforts with help from decarbonization experts like Brightworks Sustainability and Effecterra inspires so much hope.
To this day, as I cut up plastic six-pack rings and wash reusable metal straws, I still think of sea turtles floating around in the ocean. But I feel a lot more confident knowing that, while I’m doing what’s in my power, more and more companies are earnestly doing what’s in theirs.