Skip to content Skip to navigation

William A McDonough

William A McDonough

Adjunct Professor
Adjunct Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
BA, Dartmouth College, Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa (1973)
M.Arch., Yale University, School of Architecture, Architecture (1976)

For more than 40 years, William McDonough, FAIA, Int. FRIBA, has defined the principles of the sustainability movement and created flagship projects at all scales through his companies McDonough Innovation, William McDonough + Partners, Architects, and MBDC. The radical Cradle to Cradle® philosophy he co-created with Michael Braungart and codified in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, is a framework for understanding what we make as biological or technical nutrients that can be returned to the soil or upcycled endlessly, with clean water, renewable energy, and social fairness. What this means for every material and product that humans create is nothing short of a transformative reimagining of how we design, manufacture, and distribute, and upcycle everything in the circular economy powering a positive future for all.

McDonough has written and lectured extensively on design as the first signal of human intention. He was commissioned in 1991 to write The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability as guidelines for the City of Hannover’s EXPO 2000, still recognized today as a touchstone of sustainable design. In 2002, McDonough co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which is widely acknowledged as a seminal text of the sustainability movement. His latest book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance was released in 2013. McDonough served as Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia from 1994 until 1999, where currently serves as Alumni Research Chair and Visiting Executive Lecturer of the Darden School of Business. He is also a founding member of the University of Cambridge Sustainability Leadership Council, and he sits on the Board of Trustees for Sustainability at Arizona State University.

McDonough’s award-winning architecture firm, William McDonough + Partners, is the architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan and NASA’s Sustainability Base. To learn more about these and other notable projects, visit ArchDaily’s spotlight on William McDonough. The architecture firm often works with McDonough’s other companies: MBDC, the world’s foremost advisors on material health and the Cradle to Cradle® Design Framework; and McDonough Innovation, William McDonough’s product and packaging design, speaking, advising and consulting firm. Time magazine recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet,” noting: “His utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.”