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Writing samples

  1. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (for internal use only) Page 1 of 4 Subject: Planning Services for the MARTA Sustainability Program Work Order for Sustainability Planning Services Metro Atlanta Transit Team (MATT) S.L. King Technologies, Inc. Originator/Department: Date Originated: Contact Number: T. Rishan Tesfamichael, Department of 01/27/2009 Engineering Department Head Name/Title: Department Head Signature: Rick Shay / Program & Contract Management Funding Source: Operating Capital Federal Grant Other (please indicate) Sustainability Related: Yes No Internal Approvals Routing Initials/ Routing Initials/ Approval Approval Order Date Order Date CENTRAL SUPPORT OPERATIONS AGM/Audit AGM/Bus Operations AGM/External Affairs AGM/Infrastructure AGM/Legal Services AGM/Police AGM/Planning AGM/Rail Operations Executive Director/DEO Executive Director/Safety Deputy General Manager/COO BUSINESS SERVICES AGM/Finance OTHER APPROVALS AGM/Human Resources AGM/Contracts & Procurement AGM/Technology Chief, Business Support Services Executive Summary Last Revised: 11/12/2008
  2. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (for internal use only) Page 2 of 4 GENERAL MANAGER General Manager/CEO Executive Summary Last Revised: 11/12/2008
  3. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (for internal use only) Page 3 of 4 PURPOSE: To approve work orders and authorize Metro Atlanta Transit Team (MATT) to retain the subconsultant services of S.L. King Technologies, Inc. who shall provide services for the MARTA Sustainability Program. Said program shall communicate the Authority’s goals, policies, and programs, as well as render the authority a more efficient, service-based agency. DISCUSSION (including alternatives): The Subconsultant shall prepare and furnish the following deliverables in four (4) separate tasks: Task I: Initial Planning This initial phase involves identification of key issues and funding sources, establishing MARTA’s carbon footprint, and recording baseline metrics. Specific deliverables shall include a work plan, technical memorandum, outreach plan, and a final presentation to MARTA stakeholders. Task II: Design Guidelines/Environmental Sustainability New facilities shall be considered for LEED certification and related feasibility analytics. The sustainability guidelines shall be developed, and lifecycle costing will be used to identify opportunities for efficiency. Specific deliverables shall include new construction sustainability guidelines, cost itemization of water consumption, and additional estimates of up-front costs and payback data. Task III: System Assessment/Capital Program This phase of the study involves the assessment of existing facilities according to the United States Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) for Existing Buildings program. Said facilities shall be audited for energy efficiency and used as a basis for sustainability program costs and anticipated savings. Emissions, transit oriented design, recycling programs, and utility rates are just a few of the criteria that will be weighed against current operations as part of the assessment. Specific deliverables shall include a conditions assessment report and sustainability recommendations report. Task IV: Program Recommendations The final phase consists of developing a compendium of recommended actions for authority review and implementation. Said recommendations shall be both policy and project related. Specific deliverables shall include the MARTA Corporate Sustainability Plan and a presentation to MARTA stakeholders.
  4. 4. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (for internal use only) Page 4 of 4 The projected timeline for initiating work will likely be 1-months after the use of capital funds are authorized. In an effort to meet the expected deadline, advancing these work orders at this time will allow MARTA to develop the Task I deliverables within the anticipated timeline. The Period of Performance for this Work Order is based on January 1, 2009 through December 30, 2009. The anticipated schedule for the Consultant's services is as follows: 1. Task I - January 1, 2009 to July 1, 2009 2. Task II - January 1, 2009 to November 1, 2009 3. Task III - July 2, 2009 to November 1, 2009 4. Task IV - November 2, 2009 to December 30, 2009 IMPACT ON FUNDING: The cost of the work performed by the Consultant pursuant to the Agreement, as authorized by the Work Order, exclusive of fee and not withstanding any additional consulting services requested by the client, shall not exceed a Cost Limitation of $1,226,829.00. The earned fee shall not exceed $74, 460. RECOMMENDATIONS & TIMELINE (as appropriate): Staff recommends approval of the Work Order in order to immediately begin work appropriate to Task I deliverables in accordance with the above stated schedule.
  5. 5. T. Rishan Tesfamichael Prologue “Retailing God: Spiritual Consumption & Architectural Anthropology” “…The traditions no longer speak with the clarity they once possessed, and even more devastating, they have lost their conviction because few people now accept a traditional authority on trust… There is a certain moral ambivalence about our major religious institutions today which makes it doubtful whether they are capable, in any event, of giving moral leadership.” -R.A. Buchanan, Churches in a Changing World, Philosophy and Technology, 241 The proliferation of religiosity in tandem with capitalism is destroying that which religion was originally believed to protect: spirituality. Buchanan soberly illustrates the impact of tolerance in the modern church, and how this tolerance eventually causes a loss of respect.1 In order to maintain the interest of what Mircea Eliade describes as the “modern, non-religious man”2, the church must repackage and sometimes throw out lifestyles of renunciation, asceticism, and traditional piety. However, the absence of conviction, identity, and longevity that is endemic to the post-modern era is shaping tolerance and consumption of religion, and not the inverse. Therefore, the problem is not resolved with the restructuring of religion to accommodate anonymity and financial presence, because its root transcends re-packaging. The overt presence of religion in government is dissipating notwithstanding the fact that many laws are rooted in biblical law. Yet the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 was created almost as a last call to order, and protects religious presence on very specific terms. Religion is still in major transition, and for the last few decades has been facing a different type of growth that takes advantage of global narratives, while accepting local ones: the megachurch. The Hartford Institute for Religious research defines a megachurch as a cluster of very large, mostly Protestant congregations, that share several distinctive characteristics. These churches generally have 3: Massive numbers of persons in attendance (here discussed in excess of 2000 persons) A charismatic, authoritative senior minister A very active 7 day a week congregational community 1 Buchanan, R.A. “The Churches in a Changing World” in Philosophy and Technology ed. Carl Mitcham, Robert Mackey (NY: The Free Press, 1972): 237-246 2 Eliade, Mircea. The sacred and the profane: the nature of religion; transl. by Willard R. Trask. 1983 3 The Harford Seminary. “Megachurches”, 2000.
  6. 6. T. Rishan Tesfamichael A multitude of social and outreach ministries, and a complex differentiated organizational structure Georgia is one of the largest megachurch attending states in the nation, only 3rd to Texas and Washington, D.C. They are very different from traditional churches in size, organizational structure and especially architectural design. Many megachurches resemble a market force met with resistance by many interest groups from NIMBY to other opponents of sprawl: big-box retail. Some megachurches are referred to as minitowns (USA today), overtaking land parcels upwards from 50 acres and possessing various aspects of market-driven proprietorship ranging from real-estate investments and franchising to community facilities. Instead of grabbing a burger at the many other fast food restaurants in Houston, Brentwood Baptist Church accommodates its members by maintaining a McDonald’s on premises. At Prestonwood Baptist in Plano, Texas members can choose from one of 15 ball fields, dinner in a 50’s style diner, and work off the calories in the fitness center. The major differences between the quasi-business ventures and the more notorious names in big-box retail are that these giant houses of worship are exempt from property tax, they often win the law suits against communities and cities, and they can utilize the word of God to protect them when the break the law.4 “The old buildings were vertical, lit by windows, and open to the outside. In late 20th-century America, by contrast, large horizontal gathering places, such as shopping malls and casinos, hid the outside world, instead "glittering in the dark" from electric lights. In these new monuments, individuals pursued their own separate purposes.”5 Market segmentation has perpetuated the explosion of splintering in the sphere of collective worship. Paradoxically, although religion has been credited as a major source and representation of stability and permanence, it now suffers from lack of stability and high impermanence in membership. But the demystification and synchronization with secular interests has revolutionized and diversified interest pools, and, therefore, this dumbing down of symbolism and tradition seems to have both rejuvenated and simultaneously commodified the practice of spiritual belief. **** So what are the urban consequences of mass in the Georgia Dome versus a distribution of smaller chapels? If the lights in a megachurch must be dimmed and natural light reduced/eliminated for glare on projections, the connection to the exterior is lost and the crowd 4 El Nassar, Haya. “Giant Churches Irk some Neighbors”. USA Today. September 2002. 5 Postrel, Virginia. “Come all ye Faithful” , D Magazine July 2002 (Columnist for the New York Times)
  7. 7. T. Rishan Tesfamichael becomes an anonymous sea of worshippers. Sacred space should not be a simulation or a grand theater that mutes imagination, but encourages it. Much like the McMansion, the paradigm of the “bigger house”, or simply ‘bigness’, loses shock appeal because it merely shifts scale rather than type or specificity. Marcia Eliade tells us that religious man’s experience of sacred space varies from culture to culture. However, there is an underlying communality of experience that becomes evident in contrast with non-religious man's non-experience of sacred space. Although this communality is encouraged in megachurches, they isolate members from neighborhoods. To give an idea of just how concentrated these suburban holy campuses are, if one compares the 21- acre site of the Crystal Cathedral Campus (see precedents) it would fill an entire district of downtown Atlanta. In Fairlie-Poplar, the block sizes are 200’x200’, approximately 0.8 acres. The Crystal Cathedral would sprawl approximately 26 blocks of the Fairlie-Poplar district at present composition. To test these theories, a site has been chosen is located near Atlanta’s No. 1 Reservoir at Huff Road and Howell mill. It consists of a number of industrial buildings, older residential and proposed commercial real estate. A most critical component in religion is historical consciousness, which is in stark contrast to our present era of post-modernism, parading as the celebration of the lack thereof. The first step is not erasure, but preservation of genius loci. A small church named Temple of GOD, at 1353 Boyd Ave., which is actually one of a number of smaller sister churches, will be used as an organizational model. It is the primary reason the site was chosen due to its scale, context, and connection with the struggling residential community of which it is a part. We would propose to first plan a small campus which consists of a housing and retail component around this concept of worship using older precedents of worker housing and
  8. 8. T. Rishan Tesfamichael sacred architecture as a reference point. The program includes new mutli-family housing, existing single-family housing, existing industrial warehouse conversion to office space for church administration, a large outdoor worship space, multiple chapels, and neighborhood retail (grocery, laundromat, sandwich shops, etc.). **** Sacred architecture possesses more dimensions than matchstick construction, incubator spaces, or a 5-yr lease. Yet preservation and production of ‘the sacred’ can easily occur under any of the aforementioned conditions. There is a definite need for synergy between spirituality and the environment in which it is nurtured. Moreover, architecture has a greater responsibility when it must accommodate both collective as well as individual worship, especially when collective can comprise the population of a small city. A most critical component in religion is historical consciousness, which is in stark contrast to our present era of post-modernism, parading as the celebration of the lack thereof. The first step is not erasure, but preservation of genius loci. USA Today quotes Jonathan Weiss, Director of Sustainable Growth of George Washington University in D.C. “All these [market saavy] and other non-traditional church activities may be theoretically protected as religious uses and may not be excluded from even the most quiet secluded residential neighborhood.”6 Architecture has suffered due to a loss in social value, and has thus been marginalized as high culture. However, a major advantage that architecture possesses over religion is that it now transcends sex, class, and nation. Although the effects of globalism and the market economy of the built world may disappoint designers, there is great value in the fact that various people of the world can enjoy the same things. This disgusts the self-made nonconformist, but especially excites those who benefit financially from widespread acceptance of a particular product or idea. A shocking illusion of democracy that appears to exist today is automatic acceptance of actions, morals and ideas, yet the very cornerstone of democracy is the tension and conflict that arises from our differences. These differences are also manifested through the diversity and abundance of smaller churches. For every 1 megachurch that opens, 100 smaller churches close.7 Perhaps a reduced form of asceticism that employs a more intimate atmosphere has a larger untapped audience than neutral, easily forgotten, overly tolerant ministries. Although size and organization can remain consistent, further exploring worship in a far less anonymous environment, the argument is that divisions between the sacred and the profane are clear and spiritual accountability and membership length increase. 6 El Nassar, Haya. “Giant Churches Irk some Neighbors”. USA Today. September 2002. 7 “Megachurches”, ed. by Chuihua Judy Chung. Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. 2002
  9. 9. T. Rishan Tesfamichael The intention is to reduce scale and create intimate community without eliminating the larger concept of mass ministry. There is currently no precedent which incorporates housing around a megachurch. This paradigm is additive and explodes normally high concentrations of worshipers and inhabitants into small clusters of groups that comprise a religious community. Precedents such as Pullman Worker Housing in Chicago and Crystal Palace offer a paradoxical study of low-scale town planning and a mass campus for worship. Even historic religious colonies such as the Oneidans, Fourierists, and Shakers eventually died because of their staunch impositions on the townsfolk. “After a frantic year of town planning, they {Union colony} discovered, with some dismay that communal life had been sacrificed for economic growth.”8 But the object is to reinvent a modern type for the municipality with sensitivity to urban, and quality of life issues. It is important to continue analysis of housing as it may relate to one or a number of chapels and explore the various potentials for symbolism and sacred, non-simulated living, working, and worship environments. Also, indigenous ethnography studies of local megachurch establishments will provide valuable insight into organizational culture and how architecture may address these issues. Today, we no longer have geographical and demographic uniformity in places where churches find themselves. Churches efforts to stay alive, to enlarge and appeal to their congregations as well as to ensure financial viability is in direct conflict with spiritual values. How can architecture bridge this gap, through a new or hybrid typology that addresses this condition? 8 Hayden, Dolores. “Seven American Utopias” Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976