One of the most recognizable and untamable architects on earth, Iraqi Zaha Hadid is celebrating two grand openings of her creations this week, including the Galaxy SOHO commercial and retail complex in Beijing, China.
Swooping and fluid, and reminiscent of dunes and rivers and other natural features common in the Middle East, the sprawling 330,000 square meter concrete structure is comprised of four separate buildings enjoined by sky bridges. And it has achieved LEED Silver from the U.S. Green Building Council, which we must realize by now means virtually nothing anymore.
Clad in aluminum and insulated glass, the 67 meter tall complex is definitely powerful. Eschewing boring old blocks, Hadid opts instead for her distinctive fluid volumes that are dynamic and surreal. Really, it’s like the facade is moving. It’s not, of course. It’s not going anywhere.
All 18 floors of the office, retail and entertainment complex are a permanent fixture in Beijing, a giant monument to eternal consumerism. Sure the insulated glass prevents heat from escaping, and there’s plenty of daylight pouring in, obviously enough for the USGBC to give the project LEED silver, according to World Architecture News, but let’s stop pretending that a building like this is even remotely sustainable.
LEED “consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods,” according to a USGBC definition, that was developed between 1995 and 2006.
We’ve learned a lot since 2006. We now know more about rapidly escalating climate change, population explosion, and peak oil, which resource is the engine of projects this size. If its LEED certification allows Hadid to believe she has done a good deed with the Galaxy SOHO, the system has failed.
Today, any building that doesn’t produce all of its own energy is irresponsible. And any new extraction is wrong. Now is a time for transition, a time for scaling back our desires and not scaling up. With
Just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s right.