The new renderings of the CRITICAL MASS of Arcosanti 5000, posted here on 4/3 and 4/6/2009, made their public debut at the 2-day Centennial Conference on Urban Sustainability in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel . They were part of a key-note presentation by Jeff Stein.
Arcosanti alumnus Jeff Stein is Dean of the The new renderings of the CRITICAL MASS of Arcosanti 5000, posted here on 4/3 and 4/6/2009, made their public debut at the 2-day Centennial Conference on Urban Sustainability in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel . They were part of a key-note presentation by Jeff Stein.
Arcosanti alumnus Jeff Stein is Dean of the [PHOTO: Architecture student projects from around the world were laser-printed on fabric cones that were held-up by air at the Tel Aviv conference].
[PHOTO: Here’s Tel Aviv; much of what is pictured dates from the 1930’s, the “white city” of jewish architects originally trained at the Bauhaus].
Tel Aviv’s Centennial year,
a city just 100 years old (modern Israel is just 60).
And somehow, I’m invited to be a keynote speaker at the 2-day Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Conference on Urban Sustainability that starts the entire celebration, April 1 and 2. That somehow, I learn, is because I am to represent Arcosanti, a project the Israelis know something about, and like. Ok, then.
I’m not the only keynote speaker. Others, who introduce major topics and whose speeches are then responded to by panels of experts, include architect Shigeru Ban, famous for making refugee housing out of treated paper; Jacob van Rijs, Dutch architect with MVROV; UNESCO conservator Lodovico Folin Calabi; conflict studies at Colgate Prof. Daniel Bertrand Monk; UK Secretary of State for Communities Fiyaz Mughal; president of Eco-Cities, (and old Arcosanti hand) Richard Register; a couple others. Each of us is responded to by a panel of 4 or 5 experts from the region, there is a dinner, a big exhibition of student work, outdoors; and in the middle of the whole thing, speeches by the mayors of 15 European cities, who are there for both days of the conference. I meet a few of them…! Shimon Perez, too.
Oh, and besides all those, some 800 people from all over have signed up to attend the conference, and they do attend, too. It is held in the opera theatre of the new Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. It’s sunny and 70 each day.
Richard Register and I are given accommodations in the same hotel, same floor, just across the hall from each other, at the Sheraton Moriah, on the beach of the Mediterranean. Richard has arrived on Monday, I get there on Tuesday morning, 5AM fresh from an overnight flight. We are both to speak on Wednesday, the first day of the conference, me at 1PM, Richard at 3. On Wednesday morning a car is supposed to pick us up at 8AM so we can get to the conference early and download our powerpoint slides onto their av system. At 9AM, we call, “No car.” we say. The transportation coordinator is in tears, she doesn’t know what has happened. “Quickly, take a taxi!” she advises. We do and are there by 9:20AM. “Oh, good you are here!” says the conference coordinator. The mayor of Tel Aviv speaks at 9:30AM, then introduces you, Jeff. You’re the first speaker of the conference.” “I though I was on at 1…” I offer. “No, no the schedule changed, see here in the program.”
So, I’m ushered backstage while the mayor warms up the crowd (!), I download slides off Richard’s thumb drive (both he and I were up all night working on our respective presentations on his Macintosh). I’m given a bottle of water, and then, watching from the wings, I hear that I’m being introduced. I have pretty high energy at this point… and energy is what I’m to speak about. Big applause, I walk out onstage, everyone settles down, and I begin.
“Thank you. Good morning. Before we go further, I must apologize for speaking to you only in English this morning. But I know we have simultaneous translators; I have seen them hard at work in their soundproof box, just backstage. I thank them now for their good work. I bring you the best wishes of my colleagues at Arcosanti, the urban laboratory under construction in central Arizona; and from the Cosanti Foundation, its parent organization, and from Paolo Soleri, its President. Shalom.
My short talk to you this morning is supposed to be about energy and its related systems; energy in cities. Human, electrical, fossil-fueled, alternative, energy. How we have thought about it for a generation at Arcosanti; how you might think about it now in Tel Aviv-Yafo’s centennial year. Here’s how I want to start:
“Energy is not an issue separate from everything else that will be discussed here in the next two days. Especially for me, an architect, it is not separate from building form. It cannot be separated from urban form. And the time to understand this is short.
“So I am telling you, the work of all of us in this room, the work of this generation in terms of energy, is not to continue scattering boxes around in the sand, not to continue to try to link them together with time and energy and land-wasting roads and streets and parking lots and more automobile-related media. That was for the last generations, our parents and grandparents. We know more now about the rules of life on earth.
“It is also not this generation’s work to merely reform the way we use energy in this city, in its buildings and transportation systems; it is not our work to merely meet Israeli government standards that mandate we only burn 3/4 as much energy in the future as we do now, so that perhaps our built environment will be only 3/4 as unhealthy for our children as it is for us today.
“Your work – our work – going forward is to reformulate how we imagine the design of cities, to reformulate the architecture of this great experiment, Tel Aviv, to integrate it and us into the living ecology of this place, into the living ecology of the planet.
“Architecture and ecology must begin now to be thought of as a single, whole entity.”
I go on like this for about 20 minutes, talking about Tel Aviv’s history (its early history is remarkably like Arcosanti’s, seems to me), about Arcosanti’s specifics, showing slides including the brand new 3d renderings of Arcosanti Critical Mass emailed me by Sue Anaya and Scott Riley. Then I end. More great applause, the panel convenes, etc., etc. Later speakers quote some of my talk, which seems good; and in the afternoon Richard Register is especially eloquent about Arcosanti and sustainability.
People come up to me throughout the day to talk about Arcosanti; students, architects, regular folks. I have brought about 70 workshop brochures, and a group of Quaderni, too. By late afternoon all the brochures are gone, the Quaderni are still displayed on a big table, and by Thursday I have given them to key participants.
Richard Register and I hang out together for a day, prowling around Tel Aviv; we have dinner in a restaurant that Richard has been frequenting while here; the owner recognizes us, talks to us about how very few Americans are travelling here these days, business is bad; and then he sends us drinks on the house. Several. They’re good! After that, Richard goes to Jerusalem for an extra day, and I catch my flight home.
11 hours later, I’m in New York; a few hours after that I’m home, not on the flight I was meant to travel on, but, home nonetheless. I think I have done some good for the project in this week away. Interesting how welcome the idea of Arcosanti is among European/mid-easterners. And interesting how every presentor in the Mayor’s Symposium talks about density and mass transit and every single one says they are trying to tax or ban cars from their cities.These are mayors of Paris, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Milano, Budapest, Vienna, Bonn, etc.
That’s the news from Tel Aviv.