Today I came across this fantastic article on Sierra Club called “The Wizard of Oberlin” and I immediately clicked on it. Growing up and living just a mere 10 minute drive from Oberlin, I always knew it was a forward-thinking college town and this article highlighted the “Oberlin Project,” ran by professor David Orr. He has a big plan for turning Oberlin College (2,800 students) and the little town of Oberlin (population 8,300) into a model of how we humans can live more harmoniously with the rest of nature – love! It’s called the Oberlin Project, and the goal is transforming everything from how people on campus and in town produce and use energy to how they build, eat, teach, and learn.
We regularly visit Oberlin for Fair Trade shopping, yoga practice, movies at the Apollo Theater, biking the trails, lunch at the local cafes or just to grab ice cream at Yesterdays, and now I will visit the city with a new-found appreciation for what it is pioneering. My favorite part of the article is the write-up on the Adam Joseph Lewis Environmental Center. Cutting edge, forward-thinking design and architecture that is leading the way for campuses across America is right here in my backyard!
Oberlin College’s new environmental studies building was meant to be an example of what colleges and universities could aspire to if they were serious about addressing the spectrum of environmental problems that traditional buildings either cause or fail to address. The criteria: “Create no ugliness, human or ecological.” The result: the Adam Joseph Lewis Environmental Center, a $7.2 million, 13,600-square-foot glass-and-steel edifice that Architect magazine called “the most important green building constructed since 1980.” Orr points to the surrounding garden, orchard, and artificial wetlands populated with indigenous plants and animals. That importance, in part, owes to the role the building played in jump-starting college sustainability efforts nationwide.