The Hilliard Art Museum will host a panel discussion on architecture and sustainability on Wednesday, Feb. 5, to help broaden the way Lafayette’s community members see sustainability as part of the museum’s program, Creative Conversations.

The panel will feature four University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture professors who can each bring their own niche perspective to the subject of sustainability.

Curator of Exhibitions, Ben Hickey, described how architects may see sustainability differently than the average person due to how their career interacts with it.

“When we (non-architects) think about sustainability we’re like ‘I don’t know slap a turbine on it and have some solar panels,’ but architects are thinking about it in a more complicated way, they’re thinking about supply chains, how much the prices of things affect sustainability,” Hickey said.

The panel is in response to Robert C. Tannen’s “BOX-CITY” exhibition, which will debut on the following Friday, Feb. 7. Hickey said there may be an opportunity for attendees to see the exhibition prior to its release, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Hickey described how the panel will likely be on the informal side and last about 45 minutes. Although the professors will have words prepared for the audience, a lot of the discussion will be centered around the audience’s questions, which they can post to the panel via their phones at any point during the discussion.

Kiwana McClung is an architecture professor at UL Lafayette, and she said how she and her colleague will be, in a way, dismantling people’s conceptions of sustainability.

McClung herself will be answering questions with a focus on equity: “Is sustainability even viable, or would it even make a difference — some of these strategies that we’re putting forth, especially when it comes to buildings — if everybody can’t afford them?”

McClung went on to explain how important sustainability is to the school of architecture. Most projects in students’ design classes or studios will have an element of sustainability, and some students even base their thesis projects with it in mind.

Although the panel will be from architecture professors and discussing architecture, both McClung and Hickey said it will be open to anybody.

“I would just encourage anybody who wants to know more about sustainability, and not just a textbook definition of what it is,” McClung said. “This group is going to be made up of people who think much more deeply and much more closely about the topic, and actively engage and actively study the topic.”

Michael McClure is another professor who will sit on the panel, and he will discuss the topics as they relate to speculation and science fiction.

McClure said he will make the case that architecture, similar to many of the world’s great inventions such as the smartphone, can draw inspiration from science fiction universes like “Star Trek.”

“Probably this is just the beginning,” McClure said. “This is going to be bigger ideas, but that practical how-to, how to help the community out, how to help the world, those are still important issues. It’s the most pressing issue of our world today, so we’ve got to take care of it.”

The panel begins in the Hilliard at 6 p.m. Hickey described how, even if students were to miss this panel, he encourages them to take the opportunity and participate in future Creative Conversations.

“I think that Creative Conversations is one of those things people always want to do, and they say ‘Well when I have more time, I would enjoy doing those kinds of things,’” Hickey said. “The time commitment is minimal, and by and large the people who come seem to really enjoy it, and it’s just one of those things about living in the moment and making the time to do the things you want to do.

“And people who are curious by nature but feel too busy should just make the time. I invite them to make the time and for a short period on a Wednesday night live the life of intellectual curiosity and leisure they aspire to.”

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