Monday, February 16, 2009

Touch This Earth Lightly

For me Australian Glenn Murcutt defines what a green architect is. I heard him give the keynote address at the USGBC GreenBuild in Portland. I laughed, I cried, I held my breathe and remained mesmerized with rapt attention. I was so moved by his presentation that once it was over I hurried to the stage to meet him because I wanted to beat the crowd. I stood alone. The other 4,000 people had headed for the exit.

So I said what any unbashed fool would say "this way sir" and I escorted him off stage as if I was some kind of conference host. We exchanged a few broken sentences about architecture poetry as if complete thoughts were unnecessary. There are those rare moments in life when you can look into the eyes of a stranger and sense their essence . . . then words fall away.

He knew he had touched a core in me with his design philosophies and that I was a grateful repository. The room was full of architects but I felt like that day I alone heard him. I think he saw that too. His out-of-print book Touch This Earth Lightly is an intriguing story about sustainability that goes beyond architecture and has become a seminal work in my development.

I am fond of saying "In five years, you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet." This book, this person, changed me.

I see Murcutt won another award despite his low-profile.

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