Off-the-Grid Architecture

Randall Stout, courtesy Randall Stout Architects, Inc.
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Randall Stout, courtesy Randall Stout Architects, Inc.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sustainability is more than a buzzword for architect Randall Stout, who harvests sun and wind and recycles waste heat to create buildings that can operate “off the grid.” Stout will explain how thoughtful design can yield a building that generates all of its energy needs, and then some, in a lecture titled “Environmental Alchemy” that will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at the Arkansas Arts Center lecture hall in Little Rock, Ark.

Stout’s lecture is part of an ongoing series cosponsored by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, the Arkansas Arts Center and the central Arkansas section of the American Institute of Architects. A 6 p.m. reception will precede the lecture.

Stout, who is the E. Fay Jones Visiting Professor at the UA School of Architecture this spring, has won international acclaim for work that marries dynamic form with cutting edge sustainable technologies. His goal, he said, is to “turn architecture into a source of healing the environment, instead of scarring it.”

The transparent skin of the Steinhude Sea Recreational Facility floods the building’s interior with natural light. Courtesy Randall Stout Architects, Inc.
Case in point: Stout’s award-winning design for the Steinhude Sea Recreational Facility, located on an island in north central Germany. The sports facility uses solar hot water collectors, photovoltaic panels and a turbine cogenerator to produce all of the energy and hot water needed within the building, with enough spare energy to power a fleet of eight solar boats. Designed and originally operated as a “stand alone” building, the project was so successful that the client elected to connect to the city power grid so that the excess power it produced could be sold at a profit.

“We’re not looking at architecture as isolated, one-building-at-a-time problems. Let’s look at broader, creative ways to make win-win situations for everybody,” Stout said.

Change in the profession must start in the academy, he added.

“Just like structures, sustainability should be learned early in the curriculum, and it should be an obligation in every studio to think of sustainability as yet another layer of building technology that you synthesize on every single project that you ever do. I think it takes that kind of thinking to help the profession evolve,” he said.

With adjunct professor Esther Yang, Stout has tasked 10 UA architecture students with designing a beachfront interpretive center that uses sun, wind and careful siting to create energy efficiencies.

“What we’re trying to do is get them to synthesize all of these demands and make a beautiful building -- and by the way, it happens to help heal the planet,” Stout said.

Stout’s work has been widely published and is featured in the 2004 monograph, Environmental Alchemy: Randall Stout Architects. He is a LEED-accredited architect and has served on the AIA Committee on the Environment since 1997 and the AIA California Council Sustainability task force since 2001.

Raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Stout earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee and his Master of Architecture from Rice University. Prior to opening his Los Angeles firm in 1996, he spent seven years as a senior associate with Frank O. Gehry & Associates working on projects in Frankfurt and Hanover, Germany. The lecture is free and open to the public. Continuing education units will be awarded to design professionals.


Randall Stout, E. Fay Jones Visiting Professor
School of Architecture
(310) 994-3905,

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
School of Architecture
(479) 575-4704,


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