Coal-Hearted Competitions

Architecture 2030’s new student-based competitions cast out the global warming message.

Schools, architecture firms, and government offices across the nation tuned in to this morning’s Face It webcast by architect Ed Mazria (view it on Architecture 2030’s website). He and his organization were delighted to report that in the first three hours the webcast ran, three times the number of viewers joined then they originally expected.

Mazria, true to form, emphasized the major points he’s made on the 2030 Challenge and at last year’s Emergency Global-Teach In. “We’re the problem and the solution,” he insists. He adds that we’ve created our enormous carbon footprint by designing energy guzzling, inefficient buildings.

Quoting scientific evidence, he says we’re on the verge of environmental catastrophes as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans warned us—winds with increased intensity, severe wild fires, loss of snowcaps, long droughts and rising sea levels. And with 76% of the electricity the U.S. produces going into the building sector (to construct and maintain our homes and public structures) we can make far-reaching changes for the better by reducing our energy demands.

But Mazria’s main message to students was that coal is poisonous to the Earth and its creatures, and to cut out the use of coal all together; this, he says, is our “silver bullet.” To help communicate the “No Coal” message, he announced two competitions today.

He challenges graphic designers to use their own faces or their friend’s faces and paint them either with black and white paints or in color, or paint any body part (within reason) in color. The paint, of course, should be non-toxic and the message in all cases should include the phrase “No Coal.” The winning designs will be featured in an upcoming issue of Metropolis and on Submissions are due February 1, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. EST and further details are available on the site.

The Video Competition asks for either a silent film or one with sound, 60 seconds or less, presenting the No Coal message and the 2030 Challenge. The videos must be uploaded to YouTube by February 8, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 10 finalists will be chosen by online voting at the Architecture 2030 site and the winner will be featured on Again, further details are available on the site. Both of these competitions are listed under Reverberate, an apt name for such a far-reaching publicity campaign.

I joined Pratt’s School of Architecture in Brooklyn where a group of undergrad and thesis students gathered to watch the morning’s webcast. Afterwards, professor Brent Porter asked the students drag out past and current projects to continue and evaluate them in light of the discussion that Ed began. While Porter used this time to introduce a new charette, the students used the time between talking about their projects to figure out how to approach their videos. They broke into teams, decided whose camera to use, what their approach would be, and who had friends in film school. One student said that rather than look at his own project as the subject for his video he would present a more global message.

Tonight at Pratt’s Student Union, students (from all disciplines) are invited to work on the graphic design portion of the Reverberate Competition—while eating pizza, listening music and painting their faces and bodies. We’ll post pictures from this event tomorrow, it’s bound to get creative!

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