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Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems

“Sustainability is a way of expressing a relationship between the present and the future, of understanding that our decisions have consequences,” said Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems co-founder Pliny Fisk in a 2008 interview with Texas Monthly. “If I could distill it into one basic concept, it would be ensuring that a future is possible.”

For almost four decades, the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems has worked to design holistic systems that identify and utilize the full life cycle of products, buildings and regions. Their work represents the EcoBalance of all basic human life support from source to re-source for air, water, food, energy and materials, looking for smarter, healthier, and more sustainable practices at every scale.

Principals Fisk and Gail Vittori are pioneers in green building and leaders in sustainability and ecological thinking. Their mission is to develop environmentally sustainable building components systems, neighborhoods and cities through their sequence of Protoype, Protocol and Policy.

Most modern building materials  are not designed with multi-functional objectives in mind. The Center’s procedures seek out methods that create or reinforce cyclical regeneration at multiple levels. For example, processing saline water from brine can create magnesium oxide based cement, while producing fresh water and hydrogen energy as by-products.

Their projects over the decades have ranged from collaborating on an eco-friendly renovation of the Pentagon to groundbreaking planning and design approaches for the healthcare facilities, integrating a health-based design approach into green buildings, and designing adaptable building systems for disaster relief and ecovillages based on a re-design and re-engineering of the ubiquitous shipping pallet (conceived as manufactured from hemp).

Above all, their work is really about socially, ecologically, procedurally adapting to people and place without funneling a project into a pre-conceived protocol. Within the last few years they have added to their 12 adaptable protocol lenses, adding three more including one focused on bioregional design planning approach recently published in The Routledge Handbook of Regional Design (2021).

We had an opportunity to speak with Pliny and Gail at a special live episode of our podcast, Social Design Insights, where they shared with us and the audience some of their strategies for global change. Listen to the episodes below.

42 | A Green Vision for the Future of Cities Part 1
43 | A Green Vision for the Future of Cities Part 2


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for this episode is "Kiss My Ass, I'm Goin' To Austin" by Danny Dolinger from his album "Significant Gains."