NBBJ’s Margaret Montgomery Talks Sustainability with Interior Design
Sustainability leader at architecture firm NBBJ, Margaret Montgomery, talked with Interior Design about biomimicry and biophilic design. She spoke of her vision for a future where cities and wilderness are indistinguishable and pointed out that people’s addiction to fossil fuels is making them stupid.
When asked about the practice of biomimicry, or design inspired by nature, Montgomery explained that “We need to learn ways of being that allow us to bend with the forces of nature, instead of thinking brute force can control it.”
She spoke about the importance of “biophilic” design strategies and the idea that humans need easy access to nature in order to be our best selves. She cited the compelling results of a 2015 Harvard study, which identified a cognitive bonus from fresh air, from keeping carbon dioxide well below what code allows, and from minimizing the amount of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in office environments. As she told Interior Design, “This challenges me as an architect to find win-win strategies where we can increase fresh, oxygen-rich air to indoor spaces without increasing energy use. On a larger scale, this tells me that our contributions to climate change through our ravenous hunger for fossil fuels are making us stupid. The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the less potential we have for our highest cognitive function.”
Montgomery described how her research has influenced projects at NBBJ, highlighting the Meridian Center for Health in Seattle where her team created a place of respite for patients. Water flows on the site are integrated into a natural rain garden surrounded by trees and shrubs that help bring patients closer to nature.