William McDonough Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

William McDonough        

Internationally Renowned Architectural Designer

William McDonough is an internationally renowned designer and one of the primary proponents and shapers of what he and his partners call ‘The Next Industrial Revolution.’ Time magazine recognized him in 1999 as a ‘Hero for the Planet,’ stating that “his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.”

Since becoming in 1996 the first and only individual to receive the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, the nation’s highest environmental honor, McDonough earned the US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award as a member of the EcoWorx™ development team for Shaw Industries. Most recently, he received the National Design Award for exemplary achievement in the field of environmental design. Presented annually by the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, it is an award recognizing “excellence, innovation and lasting achievement.”

MBDC founded in 1995 by world-renowned architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart, assists prominent client companies in designing profitable and environmentally intelligent solutions. McDonough also founded architecture and community design firm William McDonough +Partners. Internationally recognized for practicing ecologically, socially, and economically intelligent architecture and planning in the US and abroad.

McDonough is an Alumni Research Chair at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. In 2012, William McDonough partnered with Stanford University to create a “living archive” of sustainability with real-time collection of his professional works and communications. He also serves as US Chairman and member of the Board of Councilors of the China-US Center for Sustainable Development, and Chairman of the Board of Overseers for the Center for Eco-Intelligent Management at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid. He recently joined the Board of the H. John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and the Management Committee of HRH The Prince of Wales’s Business & The Environment Programme at Cambridge University.

From 1994-1999, McDonough was the Edward E. Elson Professor of Architecture and Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. MBDC assists clients in profitably implementing its scientifically based design approach to create solutions that are prosperous economically, socially, and environmentally. Recent MBDC projects include designing materials for shoes with Nike, fibers with Honeywell, furniture with Herman Miller, fabrics with Steel case, carpet with Shaw Industries, and transportation-related products with Ford Motor Company. In 2014, the World Economic Forum appointed McDonough to Chair of the Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.

William McDonough + Partners has been a leader in the sustainable development movement since 1977. The design of the Environmental Defense Fund offices, completed in 1985, helped launch the ‘green building’ movement. Recent award-winning projects for Gap Inc., Nike, Herman Miller, and Oberlin College have set new standards for design quality, environmental sensitivity, and functional effectiveness. WM+P won BusinessWeek/Architectural Record “Good Design is Good Business” Awards for large commercial projects during both of the awards program’s first two years.

As a leader in sustainable development, William McDonough actively participates in several conferences and forums to share ideas with environmentalists, designers, and business executives. He is recognized widely, both in the US and internationally, and he has written and lectured extensively on his design philosophy and practice. He was commissioned in 1991 to write The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability as guidelines for the City of Hannover’s EXPO 2000, and in 1993 to give the Centennial Sermon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. In 2002, Michael Braungart along with William McDonough co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Translated in four languages, Cradle to Cradle has become a major influence and tool for sustainable design.

In 2009, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute was established in order to create a global standard for the development of safe, healthy products. The creation of the institute was inspired by William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle design theory and understanding the ecological, social and economic reward in applying its continuous improvement framework. In 2013 the U.S. Green Building Council incorporated the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Program in the latest version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)rating system.

Speech Topics

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

In an eye-opening and provocative presentation based on the book he co-authored with German chemist Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, American architect William McDonough challenges the way we think about waste, recycling and designing for a planet approaching nine billion. He explains that the widely accepted goals of sustainability and eco-efficiency actually create unbelievable amounts of waste and pollutionthey simply wont be enough. Instead of focusing on reducing footprint, McDonough urges that products be designed to continuously travel in nutrient cyclesbiological (they go back to the soil) or technical (they stay in the use and production cycle safely forever). With this Cradle to Cradle framework in mind, McDonough has shaped the design of everything from carpet to corporate campuses. He shows audiences that:

Design is the first signal of human intention and the key to solving the planets most pressing problems

Recycling is ineffective it is really just a process of downcycling products into low-grade materials that will eventually become waste

Anyone involved in making anything can put eco-effectiveness into practice

Businesses can lead the way on climate change with velocity and scale

If revolutionized, human industry does not have to damage the natural world - products can be designed in a way that they will actually act as revitalizing nutrients for the environment when they are no longer needed

Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice for a Cradle to Cradle World

Internationally recognized for his innovative and groundbreaking design ideas, William McDonough explains how we can change the impact of human industry on the environment while encouraging economic success. He takes audiences on a captivating journey, describing how we can all become thoughtfully engaged in a magnificent design assignment that can be understood on a personal level. Audiences gain an understanding of this powerful paradigm for viewing the world for positive impact at all levels as an individual, a professional, and a citizen of the global community. In his stimulating and innovative presentation, McDonough describes:

The best and worst in the history of human design from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Edison

Puts to rest myths and misconceptions surrounding the effectiveness of banning materials and explain the importance of separating the organic cycle from the technical cycle

Explains the importance of enterprise large and the transformative nature of commerce itself, acting in society's best interest based on the simple notion that the first job of business is keep your customers alive and thriving

Presents new strategies of change for eco-intelligence to help guide our endeavors at every level from the making of molecules to the planning of regions

Create More Good, Rather Than Do Less Bad

William McDonough believes that we can create a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world, with clean air, soil, water, and power--economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed. Why not? McDonough discusses why efficiency alone is not going to solve the problems we face as a planet--efficiency, sustainability, and the reduction of carbon-footprint only slow the inevitable. Rather than striving to do less bad, McDonough advocates for a new paradigm geared towards increasing positive impacts. Through his illuminating discussion, McDonough maps out:

What it means to build like a tree and rethink design to create products, industries and processes with positive impacts

How modern businesses and communities are accepting the challenge of improving the planet by moving beyond efficiency with the protocols of eco-effectiveness

How companies can leverage efficiency to become 100% renewably powered

Why we are faced with a materials problem rather than an energy problem and what that means for industry


William McDonough Helps the World Economic Forum Set the Agenda .

Jan 22, 2014 - 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- William McDonough Helps the World Economic Forum ... PR Newswire: news distribution, targeting and monitoring.

Architect and Sustainability Pioneer William McDonough Unveils ...

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Designer and thought leader William McDonough will debut ICEhouse™ (Innovation for the Circular ...

William McDonough to Share Roadmap for Sustainable Innovation at 2014 NAEM Forum

Washington, DC, July 16, 2014 - Sustainability thought leader William McDonough will make the business case for the circular economy as the opening keynote speaker for NAEM's 23rd annual EHS Management Forum on Oct. 22-14 in Austin.

Bloomberg Radio Interview with William McDonough

Cory Johnson and Carol Massar of Bloomberg Radio interviewed William McDonough at Sage Summit 2015 in New Orleans.

Cradle to Cradle: An interview with William McDonough

William McDonough is a leading light in creating not just architecture, but entire systems of non-toxic, no-waste production.

Related Speakers View all

More like William