Michael Green, founder of Michael Green Architecture (MGA), has written a letter for RECORD about the news of Katerra closing. His Vancouver firm, which is a leader in timber construction, joined Katerra in 2018 as a way to advance large-scale sustainable building, particularly using cross-laminated timber panels.
I was not surprised but I am disappointed [by Katerra’s closing]. I believe that our industry is broken and that we can do better through innovation and systemic change in many areas. Our industry is made up of relatively small companies without the resources for major research and development and capital for investment in innovation.
I was hopeful that Katerra could provide a path, though certainly not perfect, to changes that would reduce the cost of buildings, make buildings more environmentally responsible, improve the quality of construction and speed the process of building to the betterment of society. The world needs climate solutions that come from major disruption as well as smaller scale adjustments in how we live and how we build. The world also needs affordable, accessible, safe buildings for humankind.
As architects I believe we are responsible to think outside of our day-to-day projects. I believe we are responsible to lead and improve our industry.
Green worked with Katerra on Washington state's first CLT office building.
Photo © Benjamin Benschneider
I saw Katerra as a vehicle for MGA to help. I am disappointed that ultimately that did not happen but I also saw misalignment of leadership’s values that shifted from real impact to financial return and I saw lack of clear direction. That is not new in this day of corporations but it is also not necessary or wise. Business is shifting. Purpose-driven companies like MGA thrive. [Those that are] purposeless struggle to clearly define themselves. The paradigm for business and for the design and construction industry will continue to shift. MGA is always interested in helping that shift if we can, as long as it ultimately helps people and the planet stay in harmony.