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Course Information: ARCH 4621
Department of Architecture, Cornell University

ARCH 4621 Sustainable Architecture: the Science and Politics of Green Building

Spring 2021

Jonathan Ochshorn

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Assignment for week 8

Read the following:

Part 1

  1. Weisman, The World Without Us

  2. Wilson, Half Earth

  3. USGBC, LEED Reference Guide, v4: Sustainable Sites.

Part 2

  1. DiLorenzo, Thomas. "The Myth of Suburban Sprawl"

  2. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, chapter 11, "The need for concentration"

  3. USGBC, LEED Reference Guide, v4: Location and Transportation

Optional: My critiques of the LEED guidelines for location & transportation and sustainable sites.

For all students:

Writing assignment (only for selected students)

  1. Read all selections. Then write about either "part 1" or "part 2" readings, as follows:

    If you choose Part 1: Alan Weisman, citing the example of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, shows how species, once threatened, can do much better in the absence of humans. E.O. Wilson describes the dramatic loss of species on the planet and proposes that 1/2 of the planet be set aside for "nature." Wilson thinks this can be accomplished by "reducing unsustainable consumption" and with "a major shift in moral reasoning." Weisman's case studies implicitly support this conclusion. In light of this, address the following in your response:

    • Choosing two of the three political protagonists we have discussed previously (Hobbes, Janda, and the German Marxists) describe how they might have reacted to Wilson's proposal and to Weisman's case study?

    • Do the LEED guidelines for Sustainable Sites create the necessary conditions that Wilson proposes? Explain why or why not.

    • Optional: What is your own reaction to Wilson's proposal and Weisman's chapter?

    If you choose Part 2: To what extent do the recommendations of Jacobs for high density and diversity require governmental intervention (laws, regulations) and to what extend is DiLorenzo's "free-market" sprawl actually encouraged by governmental intervention (laws, regulations)? Are diversity and choice facilitated or constrained by governmental intervention, according to the logic of Jacobs and DiLorenzo? Which credits of the LEED Reference Guide (Location-transportation, and sustainable sites) support the ideas of Jacobs and DiLorenzo?

  2. Be prepared to read (or otherwise present) a condensed version of your paper in class (7–10 minutes).

  3. Paper should be 1000–1300 words, or approximately 3–4 typed pages, 1.5 line spacing.

For all students except those selected for the writing assignment.

Write a short (1-paragraph) response to a sentence extracted from one of the readings that you found interesting or provocative. Provide a footnote citation for the quotation you have chosen using the "notes and bibliography system."1

Copyright 2017–2021 J. Ochshorn. All rights reserved. First posted: 26 September 2017 | last updated: 18 February 2021

1 You can find information on citations in the Chicago Manual of Style. (You can leave out page numbers.)