Lifestyle

Trailblazing Austin Couple Recognized for Sustainable Development

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Last year a symposium was held at the W Hotel in Austin to honor Pliny Fisk III and Gail Vittori, the co-director of world renowned Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (CMPBS).

A recent profile of the couple quotes esteemed landscape architect Eleanor McKinney as saying, “…importantly for Austin, they have created an invaluable community center where like-minded people can come together to share philosophical ideas, brainstorm creative new approaches, and gain support for sustainable frameworks for holistic living. We have been fortunate to have them here for over 40 years.”

Dating back to the 1970s, the duo has worked to preserve the local landscape and advise on private development projects that include the Mueller neighborhood and Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Last year, Vittori was the first woman to win the $50,000 Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainability.

“In 1977, I got in a car and moved to Austin,” she told the American-Statesman. “Three weeks later, I heard about the center when it was out on Bee Caves Road. I met Pliny at an open house. It was summer. He was teaching at the University of Texas.”

For Pliny’s part, his interest in the intersection of ecology and urban development stems from time spent with his father, who was a microbiologist and inventor always on the fringes of new fortune and big ideas.

“When we suggested the green builder program, the vocabulary wasn’t embedded,” Vittori said in the profile.. “Sustainability didn’t mean anything to people. In less than a generation, it has become an overarching way to think about these things.”

Luckily for the pair, they had the city of Austin behind them. The result has been years of support along the way to fund various researches and alternative development models, that have since become nationally recognized and even duplicated.

Those programs only stand to benefit other communities in the Texas Hill Country that are growing at an equally rapid pace as Austin.

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