ABX is the largest building industry event in the Northeast; Greenbuild is the largest event in sustainable building and design. When the two joined forces this week at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, it was a sight (and a site) to behold: Attendees lounged in “Central Park,” a seating area composed of pine beams and lime green mesh canopies. Others pedaled stationary bikes to power up their phones via the Charging Pelaton. Nearby, a social setting offered chairs, tables and walls all made from recycled cardboard. Each year ABX brings together New England’s building community, and this year by partnering with Greenbuild there was an obvious, energetic emphasis on going green.
Even the November 8-10 event itself championed sustainability, with Greenbuild initiating strict policies for waste management at the BCEC. All cups, napkins, utensils and food containers were compostable. Attendees pledged to bring their own water bottles, walk to the event instead of drive and use the mobile app instead of the printed program and event guides. The rugs beneath guests’ feet were to be rolled up and reused.
Over 800 vendors and 25,000 professionals attended this year’s conference, which delivered demonstrations, competitions and workshops packed with cutting-edge ideas and impactful solutions. Headlining a long list of impressive guest speakers were astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and President Bill Clinton.
In the Quad area, WHAT’S IN, a multidisciplinary research initiative that advocates for urban density and housing affordability through design and policy, outlined their proposal for the Housing Innovation Competition hosted by the Department of Neighborhood Development in Roxbury. WHAT’S IN presented their concept, Hearth House, which would accommodate various living situations from a single recent grad to a family of three and also reduce costs and promote a sense of community through the use of shared amenities and resources.
Not far away, Marvin Windows and Doors’ booth was busy throughout the week. On Wednesday, November 8, Maine-based architect William Hanley of WMH Architects discussed honoring sustainable design even when faced with extreme weather conditions in the Northeast. The home Hanley highlighted, which won Best in Show in Marvin’s national Architects Challenge design competition in 2017, is located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, where winters are harsh and summers are hot. “We need to use products that perform well and have a great track record in this kind of environment,” said Hanley, who turns to Marvin’s products because of their durability, reliability and design flexibility.
Also at the Marvin booth, guests enjoyed climbing into a Tiny House, which while structurally compact had sizable tri-pane windows. “We wanted to demonstrate that just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you need to have small windows,” said Naomi Mancha, an A.W Hastings creative strategist who worked on the booth concept. Inside the tiny house, a candle glowed while a collection of pillows and blankets evoked a comfort that seemed to draw everyone in. “The tiny house is definitely making people smile,” said Aaron Linn, Marvin Architectural Representative in New Hampshire and southern Maine. Linn also pointed out the Designer Black Ultimate Bi-Fold Door at the center of Marvin’s display, a top-selling product that was garnering lots of attention at the show. “It goes beyond what a traditional door is capable of,” he said. “It really connects the homeowner to the outdoors, which is what they really want.”
Connecting to the outdoors was part of Clarke SubZero/Wolf’s booth design as well. Clarke joined forces with Adams and Beasley Associates, Eric Haydel, R.P. Marzilli and Design New England erecting “Party on the Patio,” a display that encouraged outdoor living and cooking.
From homeowners to urban developers, architects to product representatives, ABX forecasted that the New England building community is all in on a greener future.
On Wednesday night, after ABX kicked off, the building community headed to 7 Tide for an after party. The day’s design innovation conversations continued over drinks and delicious food. Magician Joe Ferranti moved around the room too—baffling guests with a few card tricks and bringing a lot of laughter and excitement to the evening.