Lance Hosey: 1964–2021

A leading champion of sustainable design leaves behind a rich legacy of accomplishment.

Lance Hosey
Photo: lancehosey.com
Lance Hosey, FAIA, LEED Fellow, died unexpectedly at his home on Friday, August 28, 2021 in San Diego, California. As shock gives way to reflection at BuildingGreen and the larger sustainable design community, Lance’s career as an architect, a widely published author, a committed mentor for dozens of emerging architects, and a champion of buildings that demonstrate both beauty and leading-edge environmental performance comes into focus.

Lance Hosey grew up in Houston, Texas and studied jazz saxophone at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. He earned a BA in architecture and art history at Columbia University in 1987 and a Masters of Architecture at Yale University in 1990. Following positions at Rafael Viñoly Architects, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, and Adamstein & Demetriou, Lance landed at William McDonough+Partners in 1999, where he worked first as an associate for six years, then returned as a director for two years.

At McDonough+Partners, Lance became a champion of sustainability, working on such projects as NASA’s “Sustainability Base” in Moffett Field, California, the School for International Service at American University in Washington, D.C., the Mission Bay Medical Center in San Francisco, and the Johnson Building in Racine, Wisconsin.

During his time with McDonough, Lance also began his prolific writing career, contributing to the books The Ecology of Home (2007) and Toward a Humane Environment: Sustainable Design and Social Justice (2008), coauthoring with Kira Gould Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design (2007), and writing dozens of articles in leading publications—including Architecture Magazine, where he was a columnist and contributing editor.

Following his work at McDonough + Partners and time invested in book projects, Lance served from 2010 to 2012 as president and CEO of GreenBlue, the nonprofit organization founded by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Ph.D., to advance the use of healthy, sustainable materials. He served as the first chief sustainability officer at RTKL Associates and held sustainability leadership positions at Perkins Eastman, Gensler, and HMC Architects in San Diego, where he was working as the chief impact officer at the time of his death.

Throughout his many moves around the country, Lance always maintained a busy speaking schedule, giving hundreds of presentations throughout the U.S. and worldwide. His 2012 book, The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design sparked an active dialogue, as did a 2013 New York Times article, “Why We Love Beautiful Things.”

Lance Hosey at a Sustainable Design Leaders' Summit

Lance Hosey gives a five-minute talk at a Sustainable Design Leaders’ Summit.

Photo: Alex Wilson
Among his proudest accomplishments was his central role in rewriting the AIA Committee on the Environment’s Top Ten Measures in a way that set them up for adoption as the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. This move amounted to an endorsement by the architectural establishment of his contention that “good design” and “green design” are not separable.

Lance’s friend and long-term collaborator Kira Gould wrote of their work on Women in Green:

“The research and writing turned into a rich exploration of the green building movement, feminine leadership, and the nature and power of diversity. It was clear even while we were researching the book that we were onto something significant: there was a need for new kinds of leadership and collaboration, and women were charting those paths. As soon as the book came out, it sparked a conversation, which in many ways continues today. Many groups picked up on the theme, often using the Women in Green name directly.”

Lance was an inspiration, collaborator, and provocateur for us at BuildingGreen. He had a stunning ability to meaningfully advance the dialogue every time he turned his attention to a new topic. He was tireless and extremely generous with his time and talents when asked, and he never hesistated to reach out and let us know when he felt that we missed the mark in an article.

Lance was also at the center of many consequential conversations as a long-term member of BuildingGreen’s Sustainable Design Leaders network. Like so many others that he touched in so many ways, we mourn his loss. We’ll miss him personally, and the sustainability movement will miss him profoundly. It’s some consolation to know that we still have his books and articles to guide and motivate us to keep our shoulders to the wheel.

For more information:


Published September 3, 2021

Wilson, A., & Malin, N. (2021, September 3). Lance Hosey: 1964–2021. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/lance-hosey-1964-2021

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September 3, 2021 - 4:06 pm

A fitting tribute