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Preview: Hitting The Benchmark

Posted by Christine / March 31, 2011

hittingthebenchmark04.jpg Join participants of sustainable urban design project Hitting the Benchmark for kombucha and nachos during their grand unveiling Friday, April 8th at 2:00 p.m. at the terrace between Morrice Hall and Leacock, McGill campus.

Hitting the Benchmark, conceived by Debbie So and Thomas Rowlinson during a seminar on Sustainable Architecture, was awarded a Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) grant from McGill University in February 2011.

The pair used scavenged materials from construction sites, condemned buildings, disposal centres, and the street to create a pair of unique benches.

"Our goal is to provide a physical expression of sustainability at McGill campus," said Tom. "We want people to interact with the campus while rethinking the creative reusability of waste. We want to show people that small scale urban interventions are possible."

However, the implications of the project reach beyond McGill campus. Non-students are also invited to attend the unveiling, and are encouraged to enter into sustainability dialogue by consulting local eco-conscious groups. There are also resources for non-students who desire to engage in projects.

"Definitely looking into your local EcoQuartiers and seeing what initiatives are being taken is a good idea for that," said Tom. "Many of them work with urban gardens and recycling projects throughout Montreal."

For those seeking to approach sustainability in a more solitary capacity, there are many small lifestyle choices and projects one can take on.

"Specifically, we think furniture is a great, functional way to reappropriate materials," said Debbie. "Other examples are public art, use as building materials, or donated to an EcoCentre for a second life."

Debbie and Tom designed the benches together with the help of project leaders Radu Juster, Campus and Space Planning, and Leila Farah, Professor of Architecture.

Impressively, The Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) was passed by a student referendum in November 2009, with 79 per cent of voters at the downtown campus voting to adopt the fund. Some 5,300 students voted, the second highest total in SSMU history.

The benches will be located at the terrace between Leacock and Morrice Hall. The project is slated as a non-permanent installation.

Photograph of Debbie So by Thomas Rowlinson

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