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Meet Tom Bassett-Dilley of TBDA in Oak Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Bassett-Dilley.

Tom, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always approached architecture with a sense of mission. So when I started my practice ten years ago, I knew I needed to pursue the idea of sustainability. Since energy is primarily used in buildings, it directly affects climate change, affects human and environmental health due to pollution, and can create political instability, energy was my primary focus. I went to the Passive House Institute to become a Certified Passive House Consultant, learning the building science and energy modeling to design the most energy efficient buildings using passive measures.

Has it been a smooth road?
The recession was a hard hit for everyone in architecture and design. We were able to buckle down and drive through this obstacle thanks to our amazing clients, staff, and our passion for sustainable design.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the TBDA story. Tell us more about the business.
Our mission at TBDA is to affect positive change through our architecture, and that means creating beautiful, ultra-efficient, and healthy environments that matter—to our clients, to the environment, to the future. We strive for the highest in design, which to us means integration of performance and esthetics–such as is found in Nature. We are leaders in the field of Passive House design and building science, and bring our expertise to bear on a wide range of project types. Our design vocabulary spans from classic to modern; instead of a “signature style,” our dogma is authenticity and quality.

I’m very proud to have designed the first Passive buildings in the Chicago region, some net-zero energy buildings, and a lot of deep energy retrofits.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Just in the last century we have gone from a rural society to an urban society, and by 2100, it’s predicted that less than a quarter of the population will live outside of cities. And according to the EPA, we spend over 90% of our time indoors. Problem is, our genetic inheritance still expects natural environmental inputs, but they are largely gone from our built environments.

We need to rethink our relationship to the environment and bring those natural elements back to our daily lives. If we’re all going to live in cities, they have to be good for us. In recent years a large body of scientific work has helped us understand both the benefits of contact with the natural world, and the problems with spending too much time out of contact with it. From the ground-breaking Japanese “forest bathing” studies to detailed investigations of the impact of sounds, light, smells, negative ions, and so on, a rich body of knowledge is fueling an emerging field called biophilic design.

We are capable of building great things, and rapid change is ahead of us.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eric Hausman Photography

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