University of Calgary

Professor Lee on the Hope for the Future of Environmental Designers

Submitted by jwalla on Mon, 2013/02/04 - 10:35am.

It is an amazing privilege to teach in the Faculty of Environmental Design. As one of the senior professors, I used to say that I have taught for an awfully long time. This is incorrect - I now like to say that I am proud to be teaching at EVDS for a wonderfully long time. Teaching is an awesome responsibility to instil a sense of responsibility for the next generation of practitioners and interveners. The most important aspect of my teaching is about attitude, toward those affected by their design, toward the public and toward the profession.

Much of the substance of my teaching comes from observing and admiring others, as well as absorbing the environment that surrounds us which I also try to put into practice in my firm. My practice includes building technologies, solar heating, energy efficiencies, healthy indoor environments and durability, which are all important aspects of sensible sustainable building designs. Environmental designers envision the future and then plan and design so that their projects will remain relevant.

Buildings that perform well are designed with careful attention to detail and appropriate responses to climate and occupant activities. Sustainably designed buildings use little energy and are also able to function for a very long time. It is our responsibility to design buildings that will not leak, will not rot and, will not as a result seriously compromise their service life and also affect the health of occupants.

Climate change, depletion of fossil fuels, fresh water and food, increasing pollution and international disputes are all significant challenges that become huge opportunities for problem solvers such as environmental designers, but they have to rethink traditional practice of architects and planners. The design must be purposeful as well as aesthetically pleasing without wastefulness and decadence. Our faculty teaches designers to combine "ego" which gives a sense of confidence, self-concept, and identity with "eco" which is an attitude of ecological responsibility. We intend to provide a learning environment whereby our students can acquire the knowledge to become responsible architects, planners and environmentalists. It is our hope that our graduates are well placed to meet the challenges for the future of civilisation.

Tang Lee is a Professor of Architecture at EVDS. He is currently teaching courses in Building Science and Technology, Health in the Built Environment, and Exploring Sustainability. To learn more about Lee, click here.

To view more EVDS faculty research, click here.