Gwen MacFarland

Department of Architecture Fall 2010 Lunch Lecture Series

Gwen MacFarland (B.Arch. ′06) is a designer at HOLT Architects in Ithaca where she is involved in the design of LEED-certified buildings. During her thesis work at Cornell, MacFarland became interested in sustainable design and materials. She continued to pursue this topic at Columbia University where she earned a master of science in advanced architectural design. In 2009, MacFarland won the Imagining Recovery competition for her design of an energy-producing playground. MacFarland’s talk will present emerging environmental pedagogies discovered during the Eidlitz travel fellowship to the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota, where there is a surprising drive for sustainable community. Ironically, this drive exists in one of the poorest areas of America is the richest desire to return to a natural architecture to create healthy housing, agriculture, and community. This strategy was compared to historical and alternative contemporary approaches by MacFarland’s participation in a straw bale building course, a tour of the student-built housing at Taliesin West, and visits to national parks like the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, as well as the Native American managed parks Acoma Sky City and Monument Valley. MacFarland’s talk will focus on the current actions of the people she met on the Lakota Reservation, in the greater context provided by these examples, and provide references for volunteer and educational opportunities.

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