Man vs. Nature

What I miss most about New Orleans, the city where I grew up, is the magnificent trees. The Oak trees especially. Those majestic, aged trees to me embody both the beauty and power of nature. The struggle of man versus nature is at the forefront of life in New Orleans, where devastating hurricanes are frequent, but it’s a conflict the rest of the world is now reckoning with as well. As we experience the effects of climate change, we have no choice but to evaluate our actions, from assessing how we design our buildings, to how we live and work in them every day.

Finding solutions to this age-old struggle is complex, but the outcome of doing nothing couldn’t be more clear. Climate change will render parts of the world uninhabitable. Already, families have been forced to relocate due to advancing sea levels. This isn’t happening in far flung, remote corners of the world, but in major cities like New York. As habitable land and resources dwindle, many people will become ​​“climate refugees.” We won’t just be battling nature to survive, we’ll be battling each other over scarce resources. 

Thankfully organizations and activists are fighting for the good of both man and nature, and we can all do our part. First, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the existential problem we face. For me, the team at Lang Architecture, and the collaborators we work with, this means taking a holistic approach to design. With each project we take on, we ensure that our work is connected to its environment. Throughout construction, we employ a variety of sustainable practices and source local materials. The goal is to create high-quality design with intention and a low impact on the environment. It’s essential that we realize the need to temper our everyday conveniences for the sake of a more sustainable future. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. 

You can’t leave a building abandoned for long in New Orleans before it is subsumed by vegetation. It’s a haunting image that is beautiful in a way. It reminds me that nature can and will go on without us. But we can’t go on without nature. Our choice now is to accept our fate and the disastrous effects of the trajectory we’re on, or make a collective change and find ways to peacefully coexist with nature.