Inside the Designer’s Studio 28:
Mary Ann Lazarus, HOK
Sustainable Design Director

“Right now is a great time to be entering the design profession because we are going through another revolution,” says HOK Sustainable Design Director Mary Ann Lazarus, AIA. “We need to include young voices in the mix…we need to have our assumptions challenged.”

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Greening a building is hard. Greening an entire organization is even harder. At last count, HOK had more than 900 LEED accredited professionals and 39 LEED certified projects (with 150+ pending). Those results don’t come from spreading magical green pixie dust across the firm. They come from blood, sweat, tears and an unwavering commitment to sustainable design. One of HOK’s earliest and hardest-working green pioneers has been Mary Ann Lazarus, who literally, along with Bill Odell and Sandra Mendler, wrote the book on green design: The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design is now in its second edition.

MAL, as she’s known around here (she moves and talks so quickly that she has no time for full names) has transitioned through many different roles over her 29 years at HOK. But MAL, who first studied sustainable design at Washington University in St. Louis after the 1970s oil crisis — before the term “sustainable design” was even in our lexicon — has found her true avocation and vocation as sustainable design director. For more than 15 years she has been tireless and fearless in fighting to green the HOK reddish-orange logo, and pushing hard to recruit others to the cause and to get the resources she needs to push change. For this we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She was right — and she’s also right when she talks about how far we all still have to go.

A new report by scientists at MIT predicts that, barring “rapid and massive action,” global warming’s effects this century could be twice as extreme as estimated just six years ago. Perhaps this helps explain MAL’s sense of urgency.

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More on Mary Ann’s background and hopes for the future:

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In these clips Mary Ann talks about moving from this recession to a new low-carbon future and about the tremendous opportunities for creating new efficiencies in existing buildings:

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Previous edition of ITDS: Valerie Greer

2 Comments
  1. May 23rd, 2009 - 3:02 pm

    MAL rocks! I appreciate MAL’s and HOK’s infinite tolerance for challenging the status quo – no, no, not tolerance – encouragement! embracement! It is an exciting time to be working on sustainability and an exciting place to be on the frontlines at HOK.

  2. May 18th, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    [...] ‘Mary Ann Lazarus (director of sustainable design for HOK) says: <From what I can tell, the architectural profession and our standard design process is behind the times. Integrated design is not something that naturally happens—because of the way that contracts work, because of traditional relationships between contractors, engineering consultants, design teams, and the architects.(…)>’ (Lazarus 2007 in Yudelson 2008, pp.168-169) [...]

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