Harvard's Office for Sustainability and the Built Environment & Health Student Consortium at the Harvard T.H. Chan School recently sponsored the Re(Design) Innovation Challenge, a case competition asking student teams to submit redesigns of a community greenspace, that promote sustainability, health, and knowledge generation, located on Harvard’s Longwood Medical Campus. Read the full Harvard Gazette Story.
Daniel Sherman, College '20, was part of the winning team and Deborah Blackwell spoke with him about their project 'The Countway CoLab."
What inspired you to participate in the Re(Design) Challenge, and what did you love most about doing it?
Daniel Sherman: Having lived in Boston my whole life, I have always been unnerved to listen to climate change predictions that mention my hometown as being one of many coastal cities around the world projected to be submerged under water. The uncompromising truths of environmental pollution, agricultural unsustainability, and climate change contrast so strongly with an infrastructure built without any of these problems in mind. The challenge of the modern times is redesigning this infrastructure with everything we that we now know and have proven about climate change and industrial agriculture. To have an opportunity to contribute to this paradigm shift and to do so in my hometown was both my inspiration and source of love for the project.
What do you feel was the most important element in your group's presentation that you hope is implemented in the final design?
DS: The Green Roof—perhaps the most expensive, but also the most impactful. Our green roof would, in fact, replace the ground, but it serves as a roof for the medical archives beneath it that often suffer from water leaking through the current pavers. Imagine a green roof that is an effective ‘green ground’—the recreational, educational, inspirational applications would be too great to turn down.
Imagine a green roof that is an effective ‘green ground’—the recreational, educational, inspirational applications would be too great to turn down.
Can you share with readers about the project from your perspective that they may not know or would find interesting?
DS: The best part of this project was working with such an eclectic group. As the only Harvard undergraduate in both my group and the competition, I was in a constant state of admiration of my teammates and their respective areas of expertise. They collectively represented public health, urban design, business, and legal perspectives, and my freshman self lacked such a defined perspective. My mind’s clean slate was a particularly advantageous for me—I learned from everyone’s perspective without a degree-based lens and solely with my unaided eye.
The Countway CoLab, as our project is called, is meant to transcend the boundaries of Harvard. Not only do we wish this design to be a resource for Harvard and the surrounding Bostonian communities, but also we wish this plot of land to serve as an emblem in a new ideology of integrating the environment into our communities—urban and suburban.
The Countway CoLab, as our project is called, is meant to transcend the boundaries of Harvard. Not only do we wish this design to be a resource for Harvard and the surrounding Bostonian communities, but also we wish this plot of land to serve as an emblem in a new ideology of integrating the environment into our communities—urban and suburban. Try as we have, cities are not exempt from the laws of nature, so why not use nature to our advantage—not to be exploited, but to add ecological capital to a world that so arduously seeks all other forms of capital. For those who believe current steps towards change are too small, we deliver the Countway CoLab to be a symbol of environmental change, of public mentality shift, of ideological transition—and symbols can never be limited by their size.