Summer 2008

SOLA: A New Office Building in Milan’s Porta Nuova District
William McDonough + Partners has brought eco-effective design and Cradle to Cradle® thinking to Italy. We are designing the Isola office building for developer Hines Italia, as part of the Porta Nuova redevelopment — one of the largest of its kind in Milan at 340,000 square meters. The project will include housing, retail, offices, cultural venues, a community center, an exhibition space, and a local government hub. In addition to William McDonough + Partners, the project involves Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and 22 other architecture firms from Italy and around the world. The project is expected to bring prestige to the region and will become the city’s biggest intermodal hub.

“We are delighted to be working with Hines in Italy,” says William McDonough, FAIA. “Their team understands what it takes to imagine the cities of the future as models of life-affirming human intention — and actually work towards that goal.”

The Isola office building is an 8,600 square meter, 10-story structure in a residential part of the redevelopment zone, so it is designed at residential scale. It is also designed for adaptation to housing. Isola will incorporate renewable energy capture in a number of ways including photovoltaics and ground source thermal capture and will have a high performance building envelope consisting of unitized panels of glass, metal and terra cotta.

“The project is highly constrained from a site and zoning perspective,” says Mark Rylander, AIA, Director. “We spent a great deal of time and thought on the scale and massing to be sure that this building would address the constraints and also relate to its neighbors in an appropriate way.”

Jose Atienza, Director, notes that the team is diverse and collaborative. “We are lucky to have talented partners on this project,” he says. These include architect of record TEKNE s.p.a. in Milan, a structural engineering team from Arup, and MEP engineers from Hilson Moran.

Porta Nuova is an ambitious redevelopment effort, and it will also be the debut of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system in Italy. The Isola section of Porta Nuova also represents a pilot project for LEED certification of large urban redevelopment projects. Check out theInhabitat post on Isola.

A Gallery of Our Work in Newsweek
A gallery of William McDonough + Partners’s work was featured in Newsweek online, a companion to International Editor Fareed Zakaria’s Energy Q&A interview with Bill McDonough in the magazine’s August 11 issue. Check out Gimme (Green) Shelter.


Martha Bohm joins the firm as Sustainable Design Coordinator; she’s working in the Charlottesville studio. Before coming to us, she was a Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University, where she taught Environmental Systems courses and was an advisor to the Solar Decathlon team from Cornell and an advisor to CU Green, an interdisciplinary student team developing architectural, engineering, and business sustainability strategies for a 1,200-acre development in Hawaii. She has lectured extensively and served as the 2007-2008 Ginsberg Research Fellow at USGBC and authored the USGBC Research Committee’s National Green Building Research Agenda. Martha earned her M Arch at the University of Oregon and was director of the Ecological Design Center there, and also co-founder of Design-Bridge, a community-oriented student design build program. She taught English in Japan for a time after a stint at the National Governors’ Association. Before that, she got her BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard. She is training for a triathlon next month, and enjoys gardening (especially now that she’s migrated from upstate New York to verdant Virginia) and traveling.

Emily Potts began an internship in the San Francisco studio in June, as part of her third year in the M Arch program at the University of Texas, Austin, where she is focusing on sustainable design. Emily has an extensive history of community involvement, ranging from Teach for America in Baton Rouge to Habitat for Humanity in Austin and working with the community of Lame Deer, MO, to developing an early childhood education center through the American Indian Housing Initiative. Emily received her BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she focused on painting, printmaking, and art history. She also studied abroad in Ghana and Mexico. She’s had a long-standing interest in multi-media installation artwork and her work has been included in several exhibitions.

In July, Chris Dobosz re-joined the San Francisco studio as a full-time designer. Chris completed his M Arch at UC Berkeley; his thesis project was a redevelopment of Crissy Field, a park and tidal zone in San Francisco’s Presidio, into a performative archipelago to harness the latent ecological, energy and experiential potentials of the water flow through the Golden Gate. He was also an instructor for the introductory courses in both structures and construction, earning an outstanding graduate instructor award, a campus-wide honor. Chris recently returned from a trip to the Balkans, Turkey, and Switzerland. Outside of the studio, he pursues distance running and long-exposure photography.


Kristin Cory, Project Manager, will deliver the keynote address at the Environmental Management System Association’s annual conference, Striving for Sustainability, in Roanoke on October 6-8. The event is sponsored by the association with EPA, UVA, DEQ, and Virginia Tech.

Director of Practice Kevin Burke will speak on November 5-6 at theSustainable Architecture Forum 2008 in Rotterdam; Bill McDonough will participate in this event by videoconference. This conference will examine how Cradle to Cradle has been embraced in the Netherlands.

On November 6-7, Lance Hosey, Director, will speak at the University of Pennsylvania conference, “Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil.” He will participate in a panel discussion with Stefan Behnisch, James Corner, and others. Other speakers include Thomas Herzog, Paul Goldberger, David Orr, Douglas Farr, Marilyn Taylor, and Ed Mazria. An associated exhibition will include two William McDonough + Partners projects: the Ford Rouge revitalization and the conceptual planning work for Luizhou in China.

Roger Schickedantz, Director, will speak at Biennial of Sustainable Architecture of Habitat Futura event in Barcelona on November 13. A publication in association with this event features the firm’s Ecourban project, which is under construction in Barcelona. Bill McDonough will be speaking that week in Barcelona as well, at the Barcelona Design Centre’s Ecodesign Conference on November 11, which is part of Barcelona Design Week.


Designer John Wheeler represented Bill McDonough and the firm at an Energy Investment Initiative Conference in New Mexico hosted by Governor Bill Richardson. John led a team tasked with producing an ROI analysis to evaluate the feasibility of renewable projects being considered for implementation. “Instead of just raising awareness, this conference was designed as a work session,” John says. “By the end, four project MOUs were announced — these solar, biomass, and wind projects will actually go forward.” The presentations areavailable online.

Lance Hosey organized and chaired the jury for the “One Good Chair” competition with the Sustainable Furniture Council. Other judges included Susan Szenasy of Metropolis magazine, Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitat, Bill Dowell of Herman Miller, and designer Eric Pfeiffer. The awards ceremony took place at the Las Vegas Market on July 30.

In the spring of 2007, intern Dolores O’Connor, began working with a team on a humanitarian aid project in Northern Uganda, which addressed the adverse living conditions faced by so many Ugandan children. In her words: “The project developed into a collaboration between ReCOVER, a UVA architecture program, and Building Tomorrow, a non-profit that builds schools in Uganda. In March of 2008, I traveled to Kamala, Uganda to participate in a site visit for the design-build project that had transpired over the course of the year. During the trip we gathered site information and worked with the community to ensure that the school we were designing would meet their needs. The school is slated to begin construction this summer, and will serve over 300 children, who otherwise did not have a means to become educated.”

In May, a symposium entitled “Shigeru Ban and the Architecture of Disaster Relief” was held at the National Building Museum. UVA and Keio University (Tokyo, Japan) were invited to participate. Dolores O’Connor presented a project she had worked on with two former classmates: One World Shelter was a humanitarian aid design that focused on providing users with the basic amenities of water, food, and shelter. The unit could be used in a variety of capacities, ranging from clinics to shelters.

We noticed this great Inhabitat interview with our friend and collaborator Paul Kephart of Rana Creek. Paul’s team worked with us on the green roof at 901 Cherry, and on other projects.

If you like your summer reading in the nonfiction variety with an eye towards our energy future, check out the Rocky Mountain Institute’s revamped journal. RMI is working with the San Francisco non-profit Urban Re:Vision and we are delighted that two members of our firm, Diane Dale and David Johnson, will be a part of a future-of-cities charrette this month.

From our friends at the China-U.S. Center for Sustianable Development: In June, Stanford University hosted a design for innovation workshop with Tongji University of Shanghai and California State Polytechnic University to begin visioning the development of a pilot sustainable rural community in China. The Center is a partner in the project, connecting resources, best practices and lessons learned. At the end of the workshop, Stanford, Cal Poly and Tongji University signed an agreement launching a research and development institute through the UNEP-Tongji Institute of the Environment and Sustainable Development.