Six experts talk about the future of cities, the environment, housing, and more
via Architectural Digest
By Sam Lubel
Joe Biden is set to become the next president of the United States on January 20. He and his team have already begun laying out a “Build Back Better” plan, an ambitious recovery agenda that includes major investments in architecture- and construction-related sectors like housing, infrastructure, and clean energy. We talked with six experts about what a Biden presidency could mean for design-related industries, and how it could play out in the coming months. Here’s what they had to say.
Toni L. Griffin
Professor of urban planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design; founder of Urban American City (urbanAC)
There could be a great urban agenda drawing from the last several months: how our places and infrastructures broke down, and how the role of planners and designers together with economists and social scientists and health care workers can be thinking about the urban design of place.
Think about where infrastructure failed us the last nine months. It was in the underinvested areas of the country. We need to lean into that as a catalyst for urban reform.
I’m hopeful that there will be receptive ears to addressing this now. The next administration has got to be working on all cylinders on the here and now. They’re inheriting a series of challenges—like COVID and the epidemic of violence and brutality—that are going to creep into the next year and beyond. I would like to see the best people working on the ground in tactical ways to address our urban challenges.
Alongside that I would love to see a group of visionaries that is trying to get ahead of these challenges. We can no longer continue to rebuild in the same way we always have. We have to take and learn from the failures of our infrastructures and begin to develop those in new ways now.
Senior policy counsel, U.S. Green Building Council
We’re excited that the incoming administration has come out with strong, detailed plans around building and sustainability. So far, they’ve been thoughtful and coordinated, designed to have positive outcomes for climate as well as for equity. We see experts from all different sectors, requests for ideas. This kind of open sourcing of good, smart ideas is really exciting.
More specifically, I think what we expect to see with a fairly high level of certainty would be the administration coming out with programs to decrease the emissions associated with buildings. That means advancing climate goals and promoting renewable energy, but also ensuring efficiency from all types of buildings: commercial, industrial, schools, housing.
Incentives can get things started, but it’s also about highlighting the benefits of green building. Talking openly about climate and the impact it’s having on all of us. Just that attention and awareness alone is very valuable—helping businesses and individuals open their eyes and helping them do things better. I feel like this is a turning point.