Harrison Fraker

Minding the City – Integrated Systems Thinking and the ‘Poetics’ of Sustainable Systems


Building Technology Group | Spring 2020 Lecture Series

The Oakland EcoBlock is demonstrating the value of integrated systems thinking in achieving zero energy, zero carbon and low water usage at the neighborhood scale across technical building systems, but including economics, social organization, legal frameworks and institutional structure as essential parameters. And yet, it is also showing that quality of life questions are just as important as cost effectiveness and technical reliability and resilience in decision-making. In this regard neuroscience is revealing new insights into what makes places more meaningful, memorable, even ‘poetic’; and these insights give us new ways to re imagine how sustainable systems can be more than just about sustainability.

Harrison Fraker

Professor of the Graduate School

Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Urban Design

Chair Emeritus Energy Resources Group

William W Wurster Dean Emeritus

College of Environmental Design

University of California, Berkeley

Chosen as the fifth Dean of the College of Environmental Design, Harrison Fraker, FAIA, was educated as an architect and urban designer at Princeton and Cambridge Universities and is recognized as a pioneer in passive solar, daylighting and sustainable design, applied research and teaching.  He has pursued a career bridging innovative architecture and urban design education with an award-winning practice.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for creating a new College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota and was appointed the founding Dean.  He was granted Fellowship in the AIA College of Fellows for his distinguished career of bridging education and practice.  He has published seminal articles on the design potential of sustainable systems and urban design principles for transit-oriented neighborhoods in China, including the development of the Eco Block concept, the first integrated whole-systems design approach that generates all energy from local renewables and recycles and reuses all water and waste. He stepped down as Dean in June 1908 and became the President of Places Journal Board of Directors and now serves on the Executive Committee. His research on best practices of sustainable neighborhoods globally is summarized in his published book, The Hidden Potential of Sustainable Neighborhoods, Sept 2013, Island Press. He is the past Chair of the Energy Resources Group (ERG), a world renowned, interdisciplinary graduate group on Campus and served as the Ax:son Johnson Guest Professor in the Sustainable Urban Design (SUDes) Masters program at Lund University in Sweden for 10 years from 2008-18. He was selected to receive the 2014 Topaz Medallion, the highest award given in architectural education by the AIA and the ACSA. While he has retired from full time teaching after a 50 year career, he continues as Chair of the Master of Urban Design program at Berkeley and continues to conduct research on the Oakland Ecoblock – A ZNE, Low Water Use Retrofit Neighborhood Demonstration Project, which just received $5million of Phase 2 funding from the California Energy Commission to construct and test the pilot project.