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Gensler at COP21: Art and Climate Change 

Ian Mulcahey takes a look inside Ice Watch Paris at COP21. Video © Gensler

COP21 is an international diplomatic conference hosted by the United Nations, and it is dedicated to mitigating climate change. 2015 is a particularly significant year for the conference, and the first year that COP has included Buildings Day, which focused on the built environment and climate change.

In Paris, many government leaders, policy makers, companies and demonstrators came to debate what we need to do. The voices that struck us as most clear, resonant and moving were those of the artists. Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing’s Ice Watch Paris was particularly compelling. It was an art installation comprised of pieces of a glacier that together formed a ‘clock’ that proceeded to melt into the sidewalks of Paris during COP21.

Ian Mulcahey and Rives Taylor discuss how cities are key to mitigating climate change. Video © Gensler

Because designers and architects are on the front lines of the battle to mitigate climate change, we engaged in this historic event to learn more about how we can make a difference. We believe that the world’s cities hold the key to mitigating climate change. Here are some insights from what our team on the ground—Rives Taylor and Ian Mulcahey—heard at COP21.

Ian and Rives explain what designers can do. Video © Gensler

There are lessons for architects and designers in the way that artists exhibiting at COP21 compelled us all to act. The art—like the conversation around COP21—is not limited to Paris. Today, a coalition convened by the World Bank is sponsoring an art installation at The Vatican entitled “Fiat Lux: Our Common Home.” Tune in to the livestream online beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern today.

Rives Taylor is an architect and educator in the wilds of Texas. As principal at Gensler, a leading global design firm, he helps lead the firm’s sustainable design practice. In his spare time, he lectures as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston and serves as a visiting Professor at Rice University, teaching architecture and sustainable design. Currently he’s working with the City of Houston and other cities to develop more livable neighborhoods and sustainable water management strategies that support growing urban areas. Contact him at rives_taylor@gensler.com.
Ian Mulcahey
As Managing Director of Gensler’s London office, Ian oversees projects across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. Ian brings a deep understanding of the various political, commercial and social drivers that influence planning delivery. He is passionate about solving complex urban problems with a particular expertise in the integration of infrastructure with urban growth and regeneration, Ian has been at the forefront of growing the firm’s global planning and urban design practice. Clients value his ability to develop visionary solutions for some of the world’s most important urban centres. As a regular speaker and panellist both in the UK and at global property conferences, Ian is often called upon to help define the future direction of urban growth and transformation. Contact him at ian_mulcahey@gensler.com.

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