Answering the Call: SmithGroup’s Climate Action Superstudio

Answering the Call: SmithGroup’s Climate Action Superstudio

The Green New Deal Superstudio, initiated by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) in 2020, aims to answer the call to action outlined in their New Landscape Declaration, which identified climate change, inequity and mass species extinction as the defining issues of our time and asserted our responsibility as designers to help solve them.

Launched last August, the Green New Deal Superstudio is centered around a historic year-long, national ideas competition that connects professionals and design schools via a network of regional studios that will translate the core goals of the Green New Deal— decarbonization, social and environmental justice, and new/green economy jobs—into actionable design and planning projects, informing a national conversation on policy and design at a Summit convened by the LAF in September 2021.

SmithGroup called on our firm to be part of this vital conversation by forming our own Climate Action Superstudio and holding an internal ideas competition to address the critical climate issues we’re facing. Our internal design competitions give SmithGroup’s diverse staff opportunities to develop innovative solutions to a unique range of challenges. The goal of this competition, a collaborative initiative driven by our Discipline and Design Directors, was to generate cross-disciplinary ideas for specific projects or policies that could be further developed and submitted to the LAF’s broader national competition.

SmithGroup’s participation in this competition reflects our longstanding support of the LAF through board membership and JJR Roy Fund sponsorship of their Landscape Performance Series. It also reflects our elevated Commitment to Climate Action and the importance of challenging ourselves within the A/E industry to collaborate and innovate, generating critical ideas for a path toward tackling the global climate emergency.

After forming regional studios to help inform and solicit ideas, we convened a jury of outside experts from around the country to review the entries from across the firm. We are deeply grateful to our accomplished panel of jurors, which included:

  • Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Pittsburgh
  • Lori Singleton, President & CEO, Arizona Forward
  • Catherine Hurley, Strategic Planning & Sustainability Program Manager, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Tyler Durchslag-Richardson, Senior Analyst, Facilities Services and Integrated Planning, Caltech

This jury met in March to review the entries and while the jurors were impressed by all the submissions, they ultimately chose five they felt had the most widespread relevance and impact. Covering a wide range of scales and topics as well as coast-to-coast geographies and applications, the winning teams are currently refining their entries and will be submitting them to the LAF’s national competition by the end of June 2021. We look forward to sharing their visionary ideas with you – and learning from the range of solutions shared from studios across the country to answer the critical call to climate action.