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Founder, William McDonough + Partners

At A Glance
  • Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Circular Economy
  • Labeled a "hero for the planet" by Time magazine
  • Received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development
  • Received the first Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for his work with Shaw Industries
  • Received the National Design Award for exemplary achievement in the field of environmental design
  • Architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College and NASA’s “space station on Earth" sustainability base
Founder, William McDonough + Partners

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. McDonough is trained as an architect, yet his interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. McDonough is the architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan; the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College; and NASA’s Sustainability Base, one of the most innovative facilities in the federal portfolio. He currently leads and chairs the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.

McDonough has written and lectured extensively on design as the first signal of human intention. He was commissioned in 1991 to write The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability as guidelines for the City of Hannover’s EXPO 2000, still recognized two decades after publication as a touchstone of sustainable design. In 2002, McDonough and the German chemist Dr. Michael Braungart coauthored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which is widely acknowledged as a seminal text of the sustainability movement. Their latest book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance was released in 2013.

McDonough advises commercial and governmental leaders worldwide through McDonough Innovation. He is also active with William McDonough + Partners, his architecture practice with offices in Charlottesville, VA, and San Francisco, CA, as well as MBDC, the Cradle to Cradle consulting firm co-founded with Braungart. He and Braungart co-founded two not-for-profit organizations to allow public accessibility to Cradle to Cradle thinking: GreenBlue (2000), to convene industry groups around Cradle to Cradle issues; and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2009), to expand the rigorous product certification program.

McDonough co-founded Make It Right (2006) with Brad Pitt to bring affordable, Cradle to Cradle-inspired homes to the Lower 9th Ward In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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