May 10, 2021
Lightning Interviews on Sustainability: Ennead Architects
**Interviews have been slightly edited for flow and brevity**
- Tell us your name, and what you do?
My name is Stefan Knust and I am the Director of Sustainability at Ennead Architects here in NYC.
- What corner of NYC is most conducive to your creativity? Why?
I most often say “AHA!” during my commute on the bike paths of NYC. In my work I have to connect many seemingly disparate dots and must be creative in communicating complex ideas to a diversity of project stakeholders – thinking-while-biking helps!
- Your most interesting recent ARCHITECTURE project?
I’m very excited about our design for The Cove, right across the Hudson River in Jersey City, a former brownfield site being transformed into a live-work-play supercluster, including a life science, tech and medicine complex amidst parkland and residential buildings.
We love doing transformative urban work that improves shared environments. We look at infrastructure as amenity; we help institutions strengthen community; and we look to regenerate natural systems in our collective aim for climate equity.
- In this moment — climate, pandemic, other factors — one key way you see sustainability shaping your field?
The American Institute of Architects has recently provided a Framework for Design Excellence with guidance and metrics for achieving measurable impacts. With greater definition, sustainability drives greater innovation – and everyone participates. Sustainability has always been a design problem, requiring holistic solutions that are meaningful and lasting.
- In your practice, one concrete change you’ve made to further sustainability?
One recent success — we made qualitative and quantitative project data visible in a simple graphic. This starts at the earliest design phase, and is then updated regularly to help the project team optimize design performance.
Architects struggle when they cannot see or feel the materiality of what they are being asked to sculpt. Net zero energy flows, greater indoor air quality, reduced embodied carbon – once we get a “feel” for how our design decisions impact these categories of individual, community, and planetary health, then we can lead along a path of best practice.
- From what/who are you finding inspiration at this time?
The City’s OneNYC2050 vision statement inspires me every day. This may be an unexpected answer! NYC has recently introduced the Climate Mobilization Act, rooted in programs that emerged from this vision statement. The global population is on pace to build the equivalent of one new New York City every month for the next 40 years – a statistic that blows my mind – calling all designers!
- NYC has spent some time on pause, but we never stopped celebrating it as a vibrant breeding ground for creativity and innovation. Who is an emerging talent in ARCHITECTURE in NYC that we should be watching?
I am particularly proud of the youngest & newest colleagues in our office. Their strength reflects what will continue to make this city great — passionate new perspectives from many walks of life that come to work together on challenges locally, regionally, and globally.
- Tell us something funny.
I will ride miles during rain or shine to deliver my compost to any site still willing to take it – it has become such a satisfactory routine for me during the pandemic, and I meet kindred spirits there.
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