AECOM Contemplates Lessons Learned in Three New Books

Event: Book Launch: The Evolution of Design + Planning in the Age of Climate Change
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.18.10
Speakers: Joe Brown, FASLA — Chief Executive, AECOM Planning, Design + Development; Christopher Benosky, PE — Principal/Regional Director of Water and Environmental Services
Organizer/Sponsor: AECOM


Courtesy AECOM

Many firms release monographs that are ideal for coffee tables, but AECOM’s three new books, Climate Design: Design and Planning for the Age of Climate Change, The Bigger Picture, and Asia Beyond Growth, include a broad focus beyond the firm’s work to convey concepts and solutions of interest to all designers, architects, planners, engineers, policy analysts, and academics. Joe Brown, FASLA, chief executive at AECOM and former EDAW chief executive officer and president, explained that these books are evidence of why EDAW chose to merge with AECOM last year: “They are invested in global and intellectual capital.”

In creating Climate Design, AECOM employees collaborated with academics including Peter Droege, professor at the Institute of Architecture and Planning, Hochschule Liechtenstein, an expert in renewable energy and sustainable design, to explore ways that the built environment — urban infrastructure, landscape design, and large-scale development — can adapt to changing climates and prevent further damage. The authors concluded that new technology isn’t necessarily the answer; rather, they promote a return to natural design instead of working against it. As Christopher Benosky, PE, principal and regional director of Water and Environmental Services, explained, this book doesn’t give specifics on the evidence of climate change, but offers a new way of thinking. For example, designers face the challenge of integrating buildings and cities with rivers and wetlands. “What if we look at cities as watersheds” by designing low impact developments, Benosky proposed.

The Bigger Picture celebrates AECOM’s many projects around the world, but also acknowledges where they have failed: the middle ground that lies between mega-projects such as the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, an entire new city complete with a Guggenheim Museum, to smaller designs for children’s gardens and the regeneration of Manchester city center. This book, written by Fay Sweet and designed by Pentagram, bridges between the practices of EDAW and AECOM, and documents projects from the research stage through concept, planning, and construction. Firms of any size can benefit from the lessons AECOM learned while executing these diverse works.

The “visual cacophony of Asia with numbers and facts to go along with it” describes Asia Beyond Growth, stated Brown. Packed with photos, statistics, and graphs, the volume shows that Asia is home to the world’s largest and fastest growing cities, and AECOM has completed many projects there. Not a monograph, this book is, instead, a compendium of knowledge gathered throughout these projects. Asia Beyond Growth may offer interesting information, but it fails to offer a remedy for growing pains.