February 18, 2013
A Card for Keeps
KieranTimberlake sends out a holiday greeting card that is both informative and beautiful
I have mixed feelings about the sea of mail that inundates us around the holidays. Having worked with architecture firms for many years, I’ve had the card versus email greeting debate time and again (and, admittedly, landed on both sides over the years). But once in a while, I receive a card that reminds me what thought and intentionality can do for the “hard copy” format.
KieranTimberlake’s annual message of good wishes is a five panel, fold out card. On the one side there are elegant, muted-hue diagrams from five of the firm’s green roof projects, illustrating how the vegetation has evolved over time. The Middlebury College Atwater Commons project, for instance, is shown in 2003 and 2012; the other depictions vary in duration. All prompt careful study.
One panel on the other side describes the firm’s research project, designed to study the long term plan dynamics of green roofs and their relationship to building performance. “The design of a green roof is an experiment in thinking over time…. Recognizing the role of vegetative dynamics in the long-term health of a green roof is essential to its sustainability and persistence. While plant communities change and evolve, a green roof should meet baseline performance goals as it matures, ideally increasing in resilience and diversity.” The rest of the text panels include the names of the entire KieranTimberlake staff of 95.
This card gets my vote as the “best of the season.” But it is much more. It succinctly and exquisitely exhibits the ethics of the firm: it highlights research, commitment to excellence in expression, understanding of how buildings “learn” and change over time. And it celebrates the individuals who make it all possible. I’m keeping this one on my wall.
Kira Gould co-authored Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design (Ecotone Publishing, 2007) with architect Lance Hosey. She is the director of communications at William McDonough + Partners. Follow her on Twitter at @kiragould and @womeningreennow.