In recognition of Earth Day, the Ambasz Institute will host its annual keynote lecture to address the increasing challenges of living on a damaged planet. Addressing the climate crisis requires a momentous cultural shift. Join us and enter the conversation and be part of the needed change. enter into the conversation, and become part of the needed change. This year's keynote speaker is Yasemin Kologlu, design principal at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who will share her work on the Urban Sequoia project. The presentation will be followed by a discussion moderated by Octave Perrault.
What if buildings could act like trees—capturing carbon, purifying the air, and regenerating the environment? Taking inspiration from nature, Urban Sequoia is a design concept that is buildable today—a project that can set the stage for a new carbon-removal economy and a resilient future for cities. Urban Sequoia encompasses every aspect of design and construction. It rethinks many of the common practices that architects have taken for granted for decades, and, therefore, requires us to reconsider the way we select materials, integrate technology, and design mechanical systems and structures.
Carson Chan, Director, Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and Natural Environment
Yasemin Kologlu, Design Principal, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Moderated by Octave Perrault
Yasemin Kologlu is a recognized leader in sustainable design and construction, playing a central role in Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)’s efforts to transform the building industry’s response to the climate crisis. She adopts a forward-thinking, holistic approach to her projects that integrates well-being, environmental design, and the latest material and building technologies. Over the past two decades, Kologlu has led projects that exemplify this approach in a range of scales and geographies, from research proposals developed for UN Climate Change Conferences to carbon-neutral districts. Among her most notable works is Urban Sequoia, a radical proposal for a carbon-sequestering high-rise, as well as the US Census Bureau Headquarters in Maryland, the JTI headquarters in Geneva, Paris’s first net-zero carbon district, and Karlatornet i in Gothenburg—the tallest tower in Scandinavia. Kologlu is a founder and leader of SOM’s Climate Action Group, which helped the firm achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its operations in 2022. As an advocate for equality and diversity in the profession, she serves on AIA New York’s Honors Committee. She also co-chairs the chapter’s Committee on the Environment, serves on the Carbon Leadership Forum NY Steering Committee, and regularly contributes to advisory groups shaping carbon and energy policies across New York.
Octave Perrault is the founder of Zeroth Systems, a startup developing advanced bioclimatic HVAC systems for architecture, based in Los Angeles. Prior to this venture, he co-led the curatorial project Cruising Pavilion (2018–20), practiced as an artist with the art collective åyr (2014–18), and studied architecture and sociology in London. His work has been shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Stedelijk Museum, the Ludwig Museum, and Arkdes Swedish Design Museum, among others.
This event was made possible through a generous gift from Emilio Ambasz. The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment is a platform for fostering dialogue, promoting conversation, and facilitating research about the relationship between the built and natural environment, with the aim of making the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to the wider public while highlighting the urgent need for an ecological recalibration.