A Centennial Sermon: Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things (1993)

Delivered by William McDonough at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City February 7, 1993

“On February 7, 1993, the architect William McDonough, a prophet of the sustainability and clean-technology movements, which set in motion many of the green design practices that are commonplace today, delivered a centennial sermon from the high altar of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City. The sermon, which laid the foundation for a lifelong crusade to do nothing less than right the wrongs of the Industrial Revolution, was titled ‘Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things.’ ‘If we understand that design leads to the manifestation of human intention, and if what we make with our hands is to be sacred and honor the earth that gives us life,’ McDonough said that day, ‘then the things we make must not only rise from the ground but return to it, soil to soil, water to water, so everything that is received from the earth can be freely given back without causing harm to any living system. This is ecology. This is good design. It is of this we must now speak.'”

Matt Tyrnauer, “Industrial Revolution, Take Two,” Vanity Fair, May 2008

Read the full sermon here