In Response to: Designing in green

I appreciate your report about progress and growing interest in green design (feature, March 21).

I helped build the thermal helio­dome in Princeton’s architectural laboratory as an undergraduate. Victor and Aladar Olgyay were fascinating teachers. Their heliodome showed how thick masonry walls transfer cool night temperatures to interiors during the day in hot dry climates. Frank Lloyd Wright came to visit the laboratory, carefully felt all the project’s components, and explained that touch helped him comprehend surfaces.

Don Lyndon ’57 and I went to Holland after graduation in 1957. Don returned to do his master’s; I stayed in Europe and apprenticed with Eugene Beaudouin, renowned Chef d’Atelier of the Ecole des Beaux Arts and chief planner for North Africa and the south of France.

In 1972 I found myself managing the northwest sector of the Boston Transportation Planning Review, which stopped construction of an “inner-belt” highway, used the funds allocated to better serve Boston and its suburbs with high-speed freight and passenger rail service, and buried the Central Artery. I returned to Europe to work with Frank Elliott ’57 on plans for Mexico and a city in Saudi Arabia for the Middle East Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Between 1957 and 1975, fuel-consumptive ideas hatched bigger and bigger planning, zoning, construction, and manufacturing failures, overwhelmed infrastructures and materials suppliers, and confused intellectual-property values. Corporations changed the practice of architecture so that drawings and specifications became invitations for litigation between clients, builders, architects, and materials suppliers.

It is refreshing to read what Claire Maxfield *03, ARO, and Maryann Thompson ’83 are doing. For me, too, building green means appreciating local microdynamics that ecologically vitalize and renew watersheds and real-estate values.