Endangered Species and Design

Sometimes designers go to any lengths to justify their decisions even when they know they are wrong and sound dumbass trying to defend their actions.

A case in point is the use of endangered species of wood in designing interiors of large public spaces like auditoriums and lobbies of buildings. Makore a rare wood from West Africa was recently used extensively at the new Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Below is an excerpt from the article in the Atlanta Constitution Journal

The wood’s elegance is not debated. But there’s a spectrum of opinions on just about everything else, from the propriety of future harvesting to what constitutes sustainability to the reliability of data offered by advocates pro and con.

So why use a species of wood that’s rare, possibly endangered and at least controversial?

Bill Reynolds, the Cobb center’s principal architect and partner with the Atlanta firm Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, said the firm’s interior design team picked makoré “primarily for its color and graining.”

“When we specify a material, we check with the supplier to make sure it’s not endangered,” he said. “But we know it’s a moving target. In two years, its [viability] could change.”

Asked to comment on the center’s use of makoré, Cobb center managing director Michael Taormina waved away concerns. “I don’t think it’ll affect fund-raising,” he said. “It’s already done.”

I am apalled at the response of the architect and more so that of the director. If this becomes a national story, I would love to see what the donors have to say to this.

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