3 November 2022
2:00PM — Hancock 100

Architecture Lecture Series: Urban Material Mines: How The Past Informs the Future – Ruth Mandl

CO Adaptive
School of Architecture Lecture Series

CO Adaptive Architecture is a majority women-owned architectural practice, founded in 2011 in New York City by Ruth Mandl and Bobby Johnston. Amidst an industry that is highly predicated on the finished image of architecture, we want to turn the focus to the means of making and maintaining it. We specialize in retrofitting existing building stock to create energy-efficient and climate-resilient environments, with the goal of extending the lifespans of these buildings for many decades to come. We feel this is not only the best way to celebrate our cities’ history, but also to minimize our collective carbon footprint. When retrofitting existing buildings, we are passionate about creating quiet, comfortable and high-performance interiors, ideally ensuring that the building is not using more energy than it can produce on site. We are attentive to the durability, health and embodied energy of materials that we use; consciously specifying materials that are local in origin, and store carbon rather than emit it in their making. It therefore matters to us that materials are as simple as possible in their constitution and are produced without harm to the environment or the people making them. In our mind, care for the parts translates to a healthy whole. As such, our practice places importance on those aspects generally hidden from view in a finished project, emphasizing the past and future journeys of the ingredients as they come together. Often, the best materials to use are those that already exist. To that end, we accentuate local reuse in our projects, reintegrating and reviving found elements of the buildings we renovate. We are strong believers that architecture is a process rather than an end result; it should be a collaborative practice that works to solve today’s biggest challenges—and does this by building upon the past rather than reinventing it.