“AS ENGINEERS,” says Alisdair McGregor, “we find something that works, so we’re finished. But if we take the time to creatively think about it, we can do better.” McGregor, an Arup fellow, has been thinking about sustainability for decades. He has worked on buildings large and small, retrofits and ground-ups, including ultraefficient Walmart stores and the über-green California Academy of Sciences. “Projects generally have one or two big moves that can dramatically affect a building’s performance,” he says. “When it all clicks into place, it’s very satisfying.”
McGregor discusses his integrative design approach to neighborhoods.
The teams that work well are the ones where each member is open to new ideas and respects the other members’ skills. It is somewhat like an improvising jazz band.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I like to go running over the East Bay hills near where I live. I often go running in the morning before work and I find the rhythm of running and the peace of the trails an ideal time for resetting my mind. Often a problem that seemed intractable the previous day resolves itself during these early morning runs. Of course some mornings when it is cold and I’m tired all I think about is “Why am I doing this?”