The Arid Lands Institute believes that design professions have an unrecognized potential to catalyze public imagination, action and leadership in the face of hydrologic variability due to climate change. To do so, design education has to change, and professional practices will as well.

The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning presents Arid Land Institute co-directors Peter and Hadley Arnold on Friday, April 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Garcia Auditorium in George Pearl Hall located on Central and Stanford NE on the UNM main campus. The event is free and open to the public. 

“Thirty million people in the western United States depend on dwindling snowpack, delivered via energy intensive conduits, while flushing storm water to channelized flood control structures once known as rivers,” according the ARI website. They claim that obsolete systems need to be converted or adapted to a hydrologic system. And the time is now.

The Arnolds challenge architects and other designers how to disrupt customary sustainability curricula to reengage, inspire and even radicalize young designers in drylands. They ask: What are the obstacles to building a water-conversant design profession? The responsibility reaches beyond the traditional disciplines to history, humanities, policy analysis and beyond.

A topic for consideration is whether the western United States can serve as a test bed for drylands globally.

The Arid Land Institute won the 2015 Latrobe Prize, which is awarded biennially by the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. The $100,000 award was given to allow the Arid Lands Institute and its partners to further develop and test a proprietary digital design tool, known as “Hazel,” that eventually will allow arid communities anywhere to design and build the infrastructure needed to capture, retain and distribute storm water runoff.

Peter Arnold, a native Coloradan, studied environmental design and physics at CU Boulder and earned his M.Arch. at SCI-Arc. He has taught design and geospatial research studios at Woodbury and UCLA, and has photographed the infrastructural landscapes of the west extensively. Current research includes analytic modeling and visualization of ephemeral stream systems in arid rural environments; the analysis of embedded energy within imported water supplies in the urbanized west; and the quantification of storm water as groundwater augmentation supply.

Hadley Arnold was trained in art history at Harvard, served as associate editor at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, received her M.Arch. from SCI-Arc, and has taught urban history, theory and design studios at SCI-Arc, UCLA and Woodbury.