Wasted: Trash Talks: Design for the End of Material as We Know It

Series of overlapping hand-made posters with alternate designs announcing the symposium
An image of a colorful pavilion in front of another building.
Peter van Assche (bureau SLA and Overtreders W), the People’s Pavilion for Dutch Design Week. photo / provided by architect
a field with snow and single story housing in the distance
Work by Peter van Assche/bureau SLA. photo / provided by architect
a render of an interior with grass on walls
Work by Sabine Rau-Oberhuber. image / provided by architect
Photo of men in a construction site
Work by Michaël Ghyoot/Rotor Collective. photo / provided by architect
image of a building under deconstruction
Work by Michaël Ghyoot, (Rotor Collective/Rotor Deconstruction). photo / provided by architect
photo of a colorful installation
Work by Meredith Miller (T plus E plus A plus M). photo / provided by architect
photo of white architectural models/sculptures
Work by Maria Aiolova. photo / provided by architect
photo from the outside of an exhibit that reads
Work by Juliette Spertus (exhibition Fast Trash). photo / provided by architect
Image of text that reads
Work by Juliette Spertus with ClosedLoops. image / provided by architect
drawing and collage of a tree house
Work by David Benjamin (The Living). image / provided by architect
photo of the side of a building made of wood
Work by David Benjamin (The Living). photo / provided by architect
image of a little boy in a baseball cap looking through a window with decals stuck to it
Work by Billie Faircloth (Smart Wrap). photo / provided by architect
Peter van Assche (bureau SLA and Overtreders W), the People’s Pavilion for Dutch Design Week. photo / provided by architect Work by Peter van Assche/bureau SLA. photo / provided by architect Work by Sabine Rau-Oberhuber. image / provided by architect Work by Michaël Ghyoot/Rotor Collective. photo / provided by architect Work by Michaël Ghyoot, (Rotor Collective/Rotor Deconstruction). photo / provided by architect Work by Meredith Miller (T plus E plus A plus M). photo / provided by architect Work by Maria Aiolova. photo / provided by architect Work by Juliette Spertus (exhibition Fast Trash). photo / provided by architect Work by Juliette Spertus with ClosedLoops. image / provided by architect Work by David Benjamin (The Living). image / provided by architect Work by David Benjamin (The Living). photo / provided by architect Work by Billie Faircloth (Smart Wrap). photo / provided by architect

Overview

2019 Preston H. Thomas Memorial Symposium

The planet has finite resources, yet we design and build as if our materials are unlimited. In fact, the earth's crust contains less than 20 years of copper, tin, and zinc, at the current rate of mining. Sand, a vital aggregate in cement, is rapidly depleting. Architects urgently need to rethink not only what materials we use, but how they are designed, assembled, and eventually disassembled, in order to be reused in a circular fashion.

With a keynote address by Peter Van Assche and presentations by Maria Aiolova, David Benjamin, Meredith Miller, Sabine Rau-Oberhuber, Billie Faircloth, Michaël Ghyoot, and Juliette Spertus, this year's Preston H. Thomas Memorial Symposium will gather the world's leading creative experts on waste and design to focus on the question of how we as designers can, and must, play a larger and more creative role in design for a circular future. Through discussion topics ranging from designing with recycled and recyclable materials to building with innovative renewable organic materials, the symposium aims to provoke young designers to create innovative, meaningful, and inspiring architecture by considering waste not as a problem, but as a resource.

The symposium is organized in tandem with the book Design for a Circular Economy: The Architecture of Waste by Edgar A. Tafel Senior Professor of Architecture Caroline O'Donnell and Dillon Pranger (M.Arch. '15), with essays by Felix Heisel and Mariana Mogilevich, and work by students from Harvard GSD and Cornell's Department of Architecture. The topic was first addressed in the fall 2017 studio Cyclo, taught by O'Donnell and Pranger with Strauch Visiting Critics in Sustainable Design Dirk Hebel and Felix Heisel. This studio would not have been possible without the support of Hans (B.Arch. '80) and Roger '78 Strauch. Their past annual contributions, as well as a generous endowment gift, created the Strauch Visiting Critic in Sustainable Design, established to ensure that Cornell architecture students and faculty are supported in their efforts to advance research and innovative design solutions associated with consequences of global climate change. Thank you to the Strauch brothers for their continuing support of this position.

The Preston H. Thomas series is funded through a gift to Cornell's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning from Ruth and Leonard B. Thomas of Auburn, New York, in memory of their son, Preston. The symposium events are free and open to the public.

Student ambassadors: Vanille Fricker (B.Arch. '19), Magdalena Zink (B.Arch. '19). Organized by Edgar A. Tafel Senior Professor of Architecture Caroline O'Donnell, coordinated by Tess Clancy (M.Arch. '18).

Schedule

Thursday, March 7

5:15 p.m.
Keynote Address: Peter Van Assche (
bureau SLA)
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Opening remarks and introduction by Edgar A. Tafel Senior Professor of Architecture Caroline O'Donnell

6:15 p.m.
Q&A Discussion

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

6:30 p.m.
All school reception with a "wasted" menu

Milstein Hall dome

Friday, March 8

2:30 p.m.
Trash Talks Part I: "The City and The Circular Economy"

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Lectures by Juliette Spertus, Michaël Ghyoot, and Sabine Rau-Oberhuber

4:30 p.m.
Coffee Break

Milstein Hall dome

5 p.m.
Trash Talks Part II: "Waste as Resource (The Circular Economy at the Material Scale)"

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Lectures by Billie Faircloth, Maria Aiolova, David Benjamin, and Meredith Miller
  • Closing discussion and remarks moderated by Peter van Assche

Speakers

Peter Van Assche (keynote)

portrait of man looking to his left

After beginning his career in science and experimental mathematics, Peter Van Assche transitioned into architecture and is now the founding principal of bureau SLA, an Amsterdam-based firm focused on the necessity of transitioning to a circular economy through an invent-design-build practice. Most recently, bureau SLA (working with Overtreders W) designed a "100% circular building," the People’s Pavilion, for Dutch Design Week (DDW). Constructed of all borrowed materials to be dismantled at the end of DDW, the building was the recipient of a number of awards, including the Dutch Design Award and the Frame Award.

As an office, bureau SLA consists of a team of architects and builders, supported by architectural historians, landscape architects, and energy experts. The studio does not wait for commissions to be given but builds and develops in the city in an innovative way — from their own initiatives and with their own manpower. With this trial and error mentality, the architects of bureau SLA discover the full potential of material use, energy, waste flows, smart living and working, and development processes.

Maria Aiolova

portrait of woman with blonde hair looking at cameraMaria Aiolova is an educator, designer, consultant, and community builder in New York City. She is an innovator in ecological design, smart cities, and sustainable urban infrastructure. Aiolova is the leader of Arup University in the Americas where she directs learning, research, foresight, and innovation. She cofounded Terreform ONE, an urban research, and foresight consulting group. She worked with the developer of New Lab to create a vibrant community of more than 100 companies working in emerging technologies such as urban tech, robotics, artificial intelligence, and connected devices. Aiolova served as the academic director of Global Programs at the Council on International Educational Exchange, where she created semester-long programs in Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Shanghai, Cape Town, and New York City. As an inventor, she holds 18 technology patents. Aiolova lectures and teaches internationally about design principles and emergent practices.

David Benjamin

David Benjamin is an assistant professor at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and founding principal of the multidisciplinary firm, The Living, which combines biology, computer science, and design to create a responsive and dynamic architecture. Synthesizing ideas through the process of prototyping, The Living has been the recipient of many awards including the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League and the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program Award, for which they created a tower of organic, biodegradable bricks (made from mushrooms), called Hy-Fi.

Billie Faircloth

Billie Faircloth is a practicing architect, educator, and partner at KieranTimberlake, where she leads transdisciplinary research, design, and problem-solving processes across fields including environmental management, urban ecology, chemical physics, materials science, and architecture. She fosters collaboration between trades, academies, and industries in order to define a relevant problem-solving boundary for the built environment. Faircloth has published and lectured internationally on themes including research methods for transdisciplinary and trans-scalar design practices; the production of new knowledge on materials, climate, and thermodynamic phenomena through the design of novel methods, tools, and workflows; and the history of plastics in architecture as described in her book Plastics Now, On Architecture's Relationship to a Continuously Emerging Material (Routledge, 2015).

Michaël Ghyoot

headshot of a man in a brown sweater with glassesMichaël Ghyoot graduated as an architect from La Cambre School of Architecture in 2009 and has been a member of Rotor Collective — as a researcher, lecturer, and curator — since 2008. In 2014, he obtained a Ph.D. in architecture at the Université libre de Bruxelles, where he was then a part time lecturer for three years. Ghyoot also cowrote Rotor's recently published book, Déconstruction et réemploi. Comment faire circuler les éléments de construction (Deconstruction and reuse. How to circulate construction elements), published by the EPFL Press as part of a European Regional Development Fund project titled Brussels Building: A Source of Future Materials. He is currently orchestrating an Interreg North West Europe project bringing together eight partners, aimed at enhancing the use of reclaimed building components in large-scale construction projects.

Meredith Miller

black and white photo of woman looking to her rightMeredith Miller is an architect, educator, and writer and one of the founding members of the firm T plus E plus A plus M with Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, and Adam Fure. She is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning where she was an Alfred A. Taubman Fellow in 2009–10. Her work explores new forms of environmentalism through the design and development of alternative materials, such as Post Rock, and Bioplastics! And Architectures Many Natures, which recently received funding through the Graham Foundation.

Sabine Rau-Oberhuber

Sabine Rau-Oberhuber is cofounder of Turntoo, a Dutch service company focused on achieving a circular economy. Turntoo regards the necessary transformation as taking place on three levels — the design of products and supply chains, the financial and business models involved, and the mental transformation leading to a new way of thinking. With a multidisciplinary team, Turntoo works with companies and public sector bodies that wish to transform to a regenerative model. Rau-Oberhuber is also coauthor of the book Material Matters (Ullstein eBooks, 2018), which dissects and critiques our current linear systems of production, consumption, and waste, proposing a new economic paradigm to radically change the status quo. One of the ideas proposed in the book is that buildings should be given a raw materials "passport" to keep them out of the landfill and instead in a constant cycle of use.

Juliette Spertus

Juliette Spertus is an architect and consultant on waste systems based in New York City. She organized the 2010 exhibition Fast Trash: Roosevelt Island's Pneumatic Tubes and the Future of Cities, which investigates the planned community's system of trash collection. She is also cofounder of ClosedLoops — a planning firm developed with planning and policy researcher Benjamin Miller — to develop innovative waste and freight infrastructure projects. ClosedLoops coauthored New York City's Zero Waste Design Guidelines with architect and project lead Clare Miflin of Think Woven and Christina Grace of Foodprint Group.