Joel Towers on Designing a Climate Neutral Future

Towers_Matthew Septimus

Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers, photo by Matthew Septimus

Design is disruption. It alters natural processes. It takes well-established activities and radically alters them. It’s practical imagination. And it will be essential in the coming decades as humanity grapples with the effects of climate change, and finds a way to move away from fossil fuels.

These are among the key messages of Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers’ recent interview with Tom Bowman on Climate Report. As part of a wide-ranging discussion, the pair discussed everything from the essential nature of design to the popularity of iPhones and the different standards of proof facing science and design. Pointing out that scientific models can never truly be 100% proven, Towers joked, “If I said to you, as an architect, there’s a 70% chance this building will stand up, you’d find another architect.”

Largely, though, the interview focused on laying out the logical and theoretical framework for design’s vital role in dealing with climate change. “Anyone who cares about the future,” Towers said, “has an imperative to figure out how to design the way we do things differently.” The entire interview is available to stream or download at Climate Report’s website.