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Building As A Teaching Tool Curriculum Resources

by Brandon Baunach AIA

Project Architect

At MKThink, one of our strengths is the ability to explore curricular opportunities in our buildings’ designs for our K-12 private education clients. We’re often asked what is our basis of design and what references do we use for our inspiration when we design a building as a teaching tool. As one might expect, there are too many inspirations to list, but a great place to start this focus is through the following online resources:

Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

URL: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/institute/lesson-clearinghouse.html

Description: A great repository of lesson plans categorized into four age groups and six areas of study. Many of the lessons include full descriptions on how to implement the lessons, talking points, reference materials, and worksheets

 

Construction and Trade Lesson Plans

URL: http://www.khake.com/page82.html

Description: A superb list of links to lesson plans involving buildings and construction. Although the site is not well maintained, the topics covered create a diverse resource of learning opportunities in the areas of carpentry, electricity, general science, plumbing, air conditioning, masonry, and metal fabrication.

 

National Clearinghouse for Education Facilities – BATT

URL: http://www.ncef.org/rl/teaching_tool.cfm

Description: Although the funding for this website was recently lost, the quality of the resource list is incredible.

 

NCEF – Outdoor Learning List

URL: http://www.ncef.org/rl/outdoor.cfm

Description: Although the funding for this website was recently lost, the quality of the resource list is incredible.

 

Green Schools Initiative

URL: http://www.greenschools.net/

Description: Resource for creating sustainable schools.

 

Project Learning Tree

URL: http://www.plt.org/

Description: “The Cornerstone for Environmental Education” has a fantastic list of Curricular materials of very high quality.

 

Engaging Places Teacher Resources

URL: http://www.engagingplaces.org.uk/teaching%20resources

Description: This UK based, environmentally focused, teacher resource is a beautiful and compelling location to start our quest to build a curriculum around your school. Engaging Places not only divide their teacher resources into eight distinct categories, but also offer specific lesson plans and activities to build from.

 

Sidwell Friends School

URL: http://www.engagingplaces.org.uk/teaching%20resources

Description: The Sidwell Friends School is an exemplary school that integrates environmental stewardship into their curriculum. As well as being a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, Sidwell Friends is a founding member of the Green Schools Alliance.

Automated Construction – Buildings that Build Themselves

by Matt Pietras AIA

Director of Architecture

 

 

3-D printing? Snooze. What’s next? Buildings that build themselves.  

I’m not really down on 3-D printing. You can now custom design your own cell phone case, have it 3-D printed exactly to your specifications and then mailed to you.  You can also buy a 3-D printer for your own home for the cost of a plasma TV.  Jay Leno uses one to make out-of-production car parts when working on his auto collection.

The process of automated production has had quite an evolution.  There is evidence that it predates the Industrial Revolution.  Computer Automated Manufacturing (CAM) showed up in the mid-20th century.  Now, we have 3-D printing small-scale objects and kit parts.

But, let’s think bigger: what about building an entire building through automated construction? I’m not talking about just pre-fab building kits. I mean automated fabrication AND erection.

First though, why?  You’ll probably agree that the traditional construction industry is way too slow to adapt to economic market conditions, environmental concerns, and immediate demand situations.  Here’s a short list of problems with construction:

  • Slow
  • Costly
  • Labor-intensive and inefficient
  • Most Hazardous job (moreso than mining and agriculture)
  • Wasteful, emissions producing

And, what can we hope to achieve through automation?

  • Cost saving through savings in time and dangerous labor
  • Useful for critical purposes: immediate response to natural disasters, assist economically disadvantaged populations
  • Manufacture on site, produce, and source locally
  • Limited over-seas manufacturing, create jobs locally
  • Limit (or eliminate) waste
  • Free up resources for thoughtful design

 

So, how far away is this fantasy?

It’s already here…almost.  Dutch architect, Janjaap Ruijssenaars is scheduled to realize the first building ever made completely from 3-D printing by 2014.  It’s a building built layer by layer.  Link:  http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/right-click/architect-aims-build-endless-house-using-3d-printer-173455705.html

 

And, Behrokh Khoshnevis, director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) at the USC, has made it his mission to perfect that technology, which he calls “Contour Crafting.”  He is verging on being able to make a 2,500 square foot custom home self-built on site in 20 hours from scratch.  All good.

Getting more interesting though, there are materials that build themselves. We can use fungi that can be grown to make furniture and insulation.  Nanotechnology and bio-manufacturing already help concrete repair itself, employing simple bacteria.  Link: http://grist.org/list/concrete-can-heal-its-own-cracks/

 

Then there are the robots…

Vijay Kumar, professor and inventor at U Penn, is developing technology that could feasibly automate building erection at large scale, eliminating many of the issues that make construction so obtuse: slow, dangerous, costly.  Professor Kumar is working on flying robots that that cooperate with each other using ‘swarm’ dynamics like birds and bees use to sense each other’s proximity and coordinate movement.  It springboards off the military’s drone technology, applying it to coordinated efforts for commercial purposes… for now anyway.  His prototype robots demonstrate being able to pick up, manipulate, and move materials through coordinated flight.  While he hasn’t applied his experiments to the construction industry, at larger scale, they could be used to assemble buildings like erector sets, without cranes.  Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/vijay_kumar_robots_that_fly_and_cooperate.html

 

But, where it gets really wild is buildings that build themselves.

Without external machinery to manipulate them, individually coded building elements can organize and assemble themselves though applied energy sources.  Design, computer scientist, and lecturer at MIT’s Department of Architecture, Skylar Tibbits is a leading innovator on the subject.  His research focuses on developing self-assembly technologies for large-scale structures.  Link: http://www.sjet.us/

Energy sources could be in the form of sound waves, wind, or kinetic sources.  Imagine buildings that could self-correct, adapt, or repair through energy transmitted by seismic energy.  Energy applied from ground shaking provides energy to built-in elements that allows them to adapt and respond and change the state, a huge application in western California and other parts of the seismically active world.

 

Photo credit: Chiral Self-Assembly: Autodesk Univ., Las Vegas 2012

Materials that self-assemble, connect, and shape themselves can be used for quickly deployable structures like emergency shelters or mega assemblies like space elevators.

By taking out the need for extensive labor, reducing risk and time, construction could cost about a fifth of what traditional construction methods cost.

What’s next?  Buildings that disassemble (or decompose) themselves on cue and return themselves to raw material—cradle to cradle.

Designing an Open Office WorkSpace: Applying the four work mode theory

By Katherine Ely & Vincent Nieto

Components of a Collaborative Floorplan

As a company interested in forging a deep connection between people and their environment, MKThink strives to design projects not only with practicality, but also with the culture of its clients in mind. The workplace is no exception.

Regarding office space, an open design meant to facilitate collaboration is the trend. Thus, architects and designers alike must create inspiring places to interact, discuss, and innovate productively.

 

WHAT DOES COLLABORATION LOOK LIKE?

 

There is no singular ‘right’ way to design a collaborative workplace. Offices are unique in their industry, goals, and culture. Generally, the workplace is becoming smaller, flatter and more open, composed of fewer private offices and cubicles. Clusters of intermixed individual and collaborative spaces for spontaneous discussion and innovation are the new model. In a workplace study conducted by Steelcase, a global products and furnishings design company, 37% of surveyed employees stated that about 60% of their work is collaborative, leaving 40% of time spent in the office for individual work. Yet another 31% of employees shared that they experienced the inverse in their daily work. It appears that a productive workplace design is achieved when individual work and collaborative work successfully complement one another within an open floor plan.

 

WHY THE SHIFT?

 

The cause of workplace design moving away from the traditional private office to an open design is threefold. First, with technological advancement, menial tasks are now automated. Fewer full-time employees are necessary; therefore, an open floor plan is well-suited to accommodate fluctuation of consultants and temporary employees as companies require them at different points in time. Offices no longer need massive spaces for individual storage as digital copies are rendering printing outdated.

And assuming that employees have access to a laptop, any table in an open floor plan office can transform into a place for collaborative discussion or individual focus time. Additionally, technology enables employees to work remotely.

Next, according to research conducted by a renown international architecture firm, measuring business success has become more about quality than quantity; creative ideas and innovation, which come from so-called ‘knowledge workers’ are valued more than rapid, rote production. Finally, open office plans are popular in the recent economic downturn due to cost-effectiveness compared to their pricey private office counterparts.

 

CHALLENGES

 

Despite the apparent draws to a collaborative office design, an open floor plan poses many challenges. The following have been identified as key elements to consider for optimal working conditions within an open floor plan: human behavior, distraction, air quality, and daylight.

Dichotomous Human Behavior

As is the case with nearly everything, differing individual needs and preferences can make compromise difficult. Workplaces are likely to have both introverts and extroverts, employees for whom private, quiet space is a necessity, in contrast to those whose brimming creativity is inspired by spontaneous interaction with others.

In her article, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” Susan Cain suggests two reasons why private space for individuals to think should not be quashed as collaborative offices take shape. The first reason, according to psychologist Hans Eysenck, is that the focused mind of an introverted individual is the root of creativity, not the collaborating mind.

Freedom from interruption is necessary for full exploration of possible innovations. Second, research shows that individuals perform more productively than do groups because group work allows diffusion of work responsibility onto others. Cain does not ignore that brainstorming and sharing discussion furthers innovation. Rather, she proposes a need for both private thinking spaces and collaborative sharing spaces.

Humans have dichotomous needs in the workplace: the need for social stimulation with others and a craving for autonomy. Younger generations used to sharing and collaborating are changing the more traditional, private Office workplace. Despite this shift, most humans are creatures of habit, to some extent. An assigned workspace lends sense of ownership and value in the workplace. Allocating distinct individual office space and separated collaborative settings within an open office plan is the solution to maintaining productivity among a diverse employee population of introverts and extroverts.

Noise Distractions

Challenges such as noise distraction and coworker interruption inadvertently distract employees from productive individual work. It disrupts the flow of creative innovation, a plight that is referred to as ‘cognitive overload’. The optimal noise level in an office place should range between 40-70 dB. Noise levels outside this range are either too low to stimulate creativity, or stunt innovation with loud distractions, according to the study, “Is Noise Always Bad?,” published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Quality acoustic design can help alleviate unwanted noise and distraction. Products such as acoustical ceilings and transformative desk panels are great for absorbing noise.

Air Quality

A key element that should be considered in any office place, particularly an open floor plan is air quality. Poor air quality can decrease productivity by 3% (Ashrae). This may not sound like much; however, a 1% increase in productivity caused by improved air quality can save more revenue than savings from reduced energy consumption (Ashrae). An average of $15 billion dollars is lost by US companies annually due to poor air quality.

Daylight

Daylight is also an important element for an open floor plan. Research shows productivity flourishes with an increase in natural lighting. Ideally, any office should utilize the maximum amount of daylight possible. In an open floor plan, finding ways to increase daylight in certain office areas—particularly towards the center of the office—would be beneficial.

 

DESIGNING FOR THE FOUR WORK MODES

 

Understanding the benefits and limitations of the increasingly popular collaborative open floor plan design is helpful; however, it does not lend insight into how said design may be successfully implemented. To this inquiry, the 2008 Workplace Survey, conducted by Gensler, suggests that the most successful companies design offices that inspire the following four work modes: focus, collaborate, learn, and socialize.

Focus work is time for individual concentration and productivity, typically at a solo workstation with a computer. Focusing encompasses analyzing, writing, and reflecting, and fills an average of 48% of employees’ work time, according to the survey. The collaborative work mode, occupying about 32% of work hours, is classified by discussing and creating with coworkers. A collaborative setting is physically variable as long as it provides space for multiple individuals to work and has multimedia connection capability. The survey reports that employees (as of 2008) spend an average of 6% of work time in the learning mode, which encompasses advancing skills and acquiring knowledge about new programs in a technology based setting. Lastly, 6% of work time is spent in the social work mode, where employees bond with coworkers or network with clients in various parts of the office, such as the kitchen or a break room.

Advancement in collaboration and learning work modes is becoming most vital to successful companies, according to the research, which claims that work environments that are ‘collaboration effective’ may see profit growth increase up to 14%. The four work mode theory is a convincing argument; to test the applicability of the theory, past MKThink design projects were analyzed for indication and inclusion of the four work modes.

HYPOTHESIS

MKThink uses a six step process to create innovative and practical solutions for clients: discovery, assessment, strategy, planning & design, prototyping & testing, and finally, implementation. The first three steps are used to discover the culture and needs of the client, assess how the space currently functions, and strategize solutions for the aspects of the space that are not working. Our process relies on surveys, interviews, and observation in order to implement a successful design solution.

Based on review of survey responses and assessment of past projects and visual estimation of MKThink’s own open office floor plan, some hypotheses about the practicality of the four work mode planning method are as follows:

• Open office plans will differ in work mode space allocation based on the type of industry for which the office is being designed.

• Project plans in general will be primarily ‘focus’ space; however, plans will increase the amount of ‘collaborative’ space, by comparison to the previously existing office.

• Little ‘learn’ work mode space is expected in the following project review. We suspect that workplace learning is a valued aspect of productivity that occurs within the space allocated for the three other work modes.

 

APPLICATION

 

MKThink has designed multiple offices for The Nature Conservancy. The design work was a solution to the conservancy’s inefficient allocation of space. Many individual offices were converted into collaborative meeting spaces to accommodate the diverse science-oriented staff. Applying the 4 work mode theory, 3 modes were identified within Sacramento’s Nature Conservancy branch. Ten collaborative meeting rooms and a modern, welcoming visiting and break area are outlined by open individual offices at the perimeter. Approximately 33.95% of the office square footage is allocated for ‘focus’ work, 41.33% of office space is used ‘collaboratively,’ and 24.76% is ‘socializing’ space.

Similarly to The Nature Conservancy, Borel Private Bank & Trust Company offices allocate the majority of office space to ‘focus’ work. The San Francisco branch, completed in 2002, dedicates about 43% of the office to ‘focus’ work, while the current San Jose branch project will be 46% ‘focus’ space. By the nature of the banking industry, office space allocation is dichotomous: private transactions and social client interface. Each branch dedicates over 40% of the office to the ‘social’ sphere, limiting ‘collaboration’ space by comparison to the Nature Conservancy. None of these three projects have physical space dedicated solely to the ‘learning’ work mode.

When applying the four work modes to a similar industry, results have yielded a somewhat comparable space allocation, with slight variation as compared to the last two examples. The Quadrus Corporate Campus, located in Menlo Park, California houses many prominent venture capitalist companies such as Panorama and Shasta Ventures. The result of the application reveals that ‘focus’ workspace is still the largest of the four with suite 300 at 47% of the total square footage and suite 301 at 66%. ‘Collaboration’ work has also increased within these venture capitalist offices, each with more than 25% of square footage rationed for that function. Quadrus offices more than double the amount of ‘collaborative’ space at Borel Private Bank & Trust.

The Mozilla Corporate Office, located on San Francisco’s breathtaking Embarcadero, was designed to cultivate spontaneity. The open plan features various ‘collaborative’ spaces—which comprise about 22% of the office—and vibrant social areas, which comprise 16% of the space.The tech based non-profit dedicates more than a third of their office to the ‘sociable’ work modes as a method of keeping the office culture strong and creative, and to have a welcoming space for volunteers and visiting consultants to work. Mozilla still dedicates a large portion (61%) of office space to the ‘focus’ work mode, however the facility does not feature any private offices. The importance of social collaboration and malleability to Mozilla is apparent in their innovative office design.

With a similar mission to the Mozilla office, Financial Engines Inc. limited its enclosed offices to capitalize on ‘collaborative’ interactions. Although the office still features open focus areas, the financial-tech hybrid company features a café that fits all of its employees as a means of creating community. All of the pathways in the office flow through this area, maximizing spontaneous interaction. Financial Engines Inc. is unique in its work—banking and software—which reflects in the companies ‘collaborative’ (18%) and ‘social’ space (9%). By comparison to MKThink’s previously mentioned workplace projects, Financial Engines Inc. was the only space to feature dedicated ‘learning’ space, with a library that occupies 1.5% of the office square-footage.

As a point of comparison to the other projects MKThink has designed over the past ten years, our very own Roundhouse One office layout was analyzed against the four work modes. The nature of architecture and design work is quite different from many of the other projects discussed; however, the office design was similar to both the recent Mozilla and Financial Engines office projects.

As an inspiring ‘ideas’ company, MKThink’s open office plan occupies up to 66% with interconnected ‘focus’ work stations. There are multiple ‘collaborative’ areas, both open and enclosed, taking up 24% of MKThink’s square footage. Our remaining space is comprised of a kitchen and communal areas used for ‘social’ interaction.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Based on review of eight open office design plans, the previously stated hypotheses were supported. Space allocation of the four work modes differed between type of work industry. Additionally, ‘focus’ space occupied the majority of an open office despite industry; however, ‘collaborative’ space became the next biggest priority among each plan. Analyzing spatial allocation within the floor plans, little-to-no ‘learn’ work mode space was identified. Aside from our MKThink office, only Financial Engines Inc. has a small appearance of the ‘learn’ work mode: the library. Although we allocated this as ‘learn’ space, a library could realistically be used to facilitate any of the other three work modes.

Learning is perhaps the most important and common aspect of productivity and growth in the workplace. Many different types of learning appear in the workplace. To name two, individual learning happens during discovery in the focus work mode, and group learning occurs through social interaction and team collaboration. According to the Gensler study, more than 70% of what is learned in the workplace is a result of coworker interaction. Therefore, we would suggest that ‘learn’ is not a distinct work mode in itself. Rather, it is fully integrated within the other three work modes. This vital integration of learning into other modes of work does not necessarily translate to having an open office design with distinct physical learn space.

 

FURTHER RESEARCH

 

Despite yielding interesting results, the procedures used in this theory application had some methodological drawbacks. Following up with post-occupancy studies at each of the sites, and increasing the size and breadth of the design samples chosen might strengthen future research.

We suggest additional research on workspaces that do not fit into the proposed four work mode theory. For example, workspaces such as game rooms or zen relaxation places were identified within MKThink’s open office designs. Perhaps these examples suggest an excluded work mode, such as ‘culture’ or ‘powerdown’ modes. If these do not warrant an additional work mode then subsets of the existing work modes might strengthen the theory. Our analysis and application of the four work mode theory has opened several avenues for future research on the topic of the collaborative workplace.

The constantly adapting human condition plays a large roll in planning a successful, collaborative office space that supports employee’s necessities. With this and further research inquiries in mind, our sense of collaborative open office space is still a work in progress.

 

REFERENCES

 

Apking, Stephen, “The Performative Workplace.” Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP;

available at http://www.som.com/content.cfm/the_performative_workplace

 

Ashrae, “Indoor Air Quality.” (2011)
Available at www.ashrae.org/…/docLib/About%20Us/PositionDocuments/ASHRAE_PD_Indoor_Air_Quality_2011.pdf

 

Cain, Susan, “The Rise of the New Groupthink.” The New York Times. 13 January 2012;

available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-thenew-groupthink.html?pagewanted=all

 

Cheek, Lawrence, W., “In New Office Designs, Room toRoam, and to Think.” The New York Times. (2012) Available at http://fi les.parsintl.com/eprints/72229.pdf

 

De Chiara, Joseph, Julius Panero, and Martin Zelnik. Timesaver Standards for Interior Design and Space Planning.

New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

 

Gensler, “2008 Workplace Survey.” (2008);

available at http://www.gensler.com/uploads/documents/2008_Gensler_Workplace_Survey_US_09_30_2009.pdf

 

Green Building, “Indoor Air Quality.”

Available at http://www.greenbuilding.com/knowledge-base/indoor-air-quality

 

Mehta, Ruvi, Rui Zhu, & Amar Cheema, “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on CreativeCognition.”

Journal of Consumer Research. 21 March 2012;

available at http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/665048?uid=3739560&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101001025603

 

Steelcase, “How the Workplace Fosters Innovation.” (2011);

available at http://360.steelcase.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Steelcase_360Whitepaper-innovation.pdf

Waste(d) Space

By Molly Brennan

MKThink Operations

Americans throw out a staggering 2,600 lbs. of waste each year per person. That is equivalent to throwing out a new Honda Civic per person each year. Across a lifetime that means approximately 102 tons of trash per person.[1] And that’s all at our personal discretion.

Current statistics from the EPA show that a measly 2% of our waste is recycled, with an overwhelming majority of waste ending up in landfills. However, that doesn’t need to be the case. The graph below details U.S. landfill waste by type. As you can see, most of the 102 tons of “rubbish” destined for landfills could be reused, recycled, or composted.

Why should we care about our 102 ton waste footprint?

 

A few reasons:

  • 10% of the world’s oil supply is used to make & transport disposable plastics.
  • 5.6 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, contributing to serious health repercussions for marine life, with potential for disastrous effects to the marine food chain.
  • 4 million people could be fed annually from the 96 billion pounds of food waste that Americans discard if only 5% were donated to food banks or kitchens.

Invaluable amounts of economically viable materials are buried each year in the U.S. For example, every year landfills receive enough steel to level and restore Manhattan, enough wood to heat 50 million homes for 20 years, and enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet four times over.[2]

Pacific Gyre aka “Pacific Garbage Patch,” a massive collection of plastic in the Pacific Ocean

Taking a quick look in the mirror, [SU1] the 30 employees at MKThink share 17 trash bins, 18 small recycle bins, and 3 compost bins. Most people share a trash and recycle bin with a coworker, while only a few employees have their own.

Looking at the previous paragraph, a few questions naturally emerge: Is this a typical ratio of # of trash/recycle-bins-to-employee within an office environment? Do the waste bins sufficiently limit our penchant to pitch trash, or are they enabling a culture of wastefulness?

We don’t know. There is no centralized database that we’ve seen that adequately quantifies our waste and qualifies the space used for waste related fixtures in U.S. offices. Standard agreements for architectural services do not typically include the programming or design of space used for waste management, and most (if not all) clients do not request it. The fact that waste management is typically less-than-resolved prior to each project’s substantial completion date is reflective of the attitude most Americans have towards waste; we rarely think about it.[3]

How can we change?

A variety of solutions have been proposed to reduce the huge quantities of valuable materials we bury in landfills. These efforts mark significant steps forward in waste diversion; however, widespread benefits to the economy, environment, and energy-use require a cultural shift towards both waste diversion and reduction. A cultural shift cannot occur when people are unaware of the amount of waste they are producing. Simply communicating the statistics of waste is a powerful motivator for change.

Architecture and design firms are positioned to leverage an ever-increasing awareness of waste to guide a wide spectrum of individuals, businesses, schools, and organizations in making optimized solutions around waste reduction and management.

Some easy ideas for starting the conversation:

  • Promote or provide content for conversations and trainings on waste to raise employee awareness and increase individual investment in the cause.[4]
  • Learn about how cities like San Francisco have been successful at decreasing landfill waste by 70%.[5]
  • Collect monthly facilities data and share the statistics on waste collection, diversion, and composting.
  • Program waste management spaces early on with an Architect. Allocating space up front may allow clients to visualize how waste bins occupy valuable real estate. Or go even further and compute the dollar amount per square foot that is taken by waste receptacles.
  • Encourage friendly competition between projects of similar scopes to see who can produce the least amount of waste
  • Design and/or specify attractive three-holed waste receptacles with clear signage to discourage trash volume and encourage recycling & composting.

Here at MKThink we are beginning to incorporate waste optimization into our data services with a goal of achieving smart resource use.  This starts with measuring how much waste the client produces and where it comes from. Then we compare the data to other workplace parameters such as building type, department, activity location, as well as other cultural, architectural, and environmental parameters. Based on the client’s organizational priorities, we create a strategy to optimize their waste stream, moving towards maximum value creation per unit of waste creation.  The answer may not lie in zero-waste, but it definitely lies in achieving smarter resource use.

Innovative Waste Receptacles

As a firm that strives for sustainable practices, it is our responsibility to start the conversation on waste reduction.

[4] http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/publications/Disposal/34106006.pdf

[5] http://www.spur.org/publications/library/article/toward_zero_waste



[1] http://www.storyofstuff.org/


 [SU1]Above you’re talking about tons of waste created.  I would either calculate the volume of waste we create, or begin with “Here at MKThink…” or maybe you transition by saying, “Let’s step back from global catastrophe and look at waste in the office environment…”



[2] All listed statistics from: Garbology, Edward Humes, Penguin Group, 2012



[3] “The State of Garbage in America,” a joint study by BioCycle and the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University, by Rob van Harren, Nickolas Themlis and Nora Goldstein, published in BioCycle, October 2010.

The Netherlands’ Eternal Struggle With Nature

by Roland Shen

Summer Intern

Global climate change has had an unprecedented effect on sea levels over the past few decades. With increased melting of polar ice caps and glaciers around the world, sea levels have risen and will continue to rise, putting coastal regions worldwide at risk for submergence into the sea. While many are now beginning to research ways of combating land loss to water, one nation has been ahead of the trend for centuries now.

Ever since the Dutch founded their nation, their homes were under attack from the ever-rising tides. Nearly a third of the Netherlands lies below sea level, and while building dikes and pumps have been the preferred method for the Dutch to combat their water problem, the newest generation of Dutch architects have a better idea: building homes and structures that harmonize with sea levels.

 

Holland’s newest idea for a solution isn’t exactly revolutionary. Houseboats have been in use for centuries for those who could not afford to live on land. And while houseboats were a symbol of poverty a few centuries ago, they are now regarded as modern, attractive housing options for those looking towards the future of property ownership.

 

New development companies, such as Waterstudio, have built homes that rise and fall with water levels along with plans for larger floating structures. Their next project involves building towers, mosques, and even floating islands on the shores of Dubai which would globalize and revolutionize the idea of building structures only on land.

 

For those of us living along the California coastline, and especially along the Bay, the idea of an inevitable rising water level could cause some panic. Maybe not in our present state, but a few decades from now we could see tremendous land loss in the Bay Area along the peninsula. Despite the human habit of procrastination, it never hurts to plan ahead. Following the path of these Dutch visionaries, California can prepare for the future by planning, if not building, floating structures to prevent property loss in the future. This notion doesn’t only pertain to Californians but to coastal regions worldwide. Following the lead of the Dutch, rising sea levels will no longer be a problem for areas like Venice or the Maldives along with the other thousands of miles of coastline around the world.

For further information, look at the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0FIxWOKBJ0&feature=player_embedded#