Victor Montero-Dien, Regenerative Built Environment Institute (REGENBE)
1 DECEMBER 2021
Victor Montero-Dien is the CEO and president of the Regenerative Built Environment Institute (REGENBE), in San José, Costa Rica. He has been the chair of the CTBUH Costa Rica Chapter since 2015.
What inspired you to join CTBUH?
I have been advocating for sustainability for about 30 years, recently as a baseline towards regenerative development and design. Such a transition inevitably brought me to the future of cities and, hence to density, tall buildings, and sustainable vertical urbanism. In 2014, I learned about this organization when the urban landscape in Costa Rica was beginning to change and embrace tall buildings as part of a new phase of development that is rebuilding the city. Initially, I invited some colleagues to establish a Tall Building Committee, which led us to contact CTBUH to support us in formalizing a legal organization that evolved into an official CTBUH chapter, the first in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, we have been advocating for better tall buildings and a clear urban habitat mindset while the skyline of Costa Rica is evolving.
What are your plans for the next few years for the Costa Rica chapter?
Three key concepts motivate me to keep advocating, supporting, and working with our chapter: advocating for tall buildings to become critical drivers for regenerative cities, supporting tall building design in Costa Rica that embraces mass timber, and working to harness the sustainable materials market within tall buildings, where social equity and human, climate, and ecosystem health are all considered as part of the whole building’s life cycle. I envision strong leadership by the Costa Rica chapter in fostering better planning and design of buildings and cities, completely aligning with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
What are some things you think the tall building industry is doing well or has improved in recent years?
Most crucially, more projects now embrace community and sustainability. The interface created by a building where it touches the ground reshapes the idea of the ground level, fostering continuity, while blurring the boundary between public and private space. This enriches the quality of a livable city and the sense of community. More things the industry is doing well: Improving building performance, embracing energy efficiency and operational carbon as part of the basics of the design process, and greening buildings with vegetation, as one of the main drivers to harness the potential of biophilic design. We need to do them a lot more. We’ve also seen invigorated use of technology, embracing AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of things) to improve performance in areas like security and safety, thermal comfort and interior air quality, and sustainable aspects of structural systems and façades. And there is an evolution in composite structures: mass timber promises to become an essential trend.
What are some of the things you think we as an industry need to do better?
Our industry is the instrument of how we humans deal with placemaking. The art and science of placemaking is not just thinking about transit-oriented development or livable cities. Placemaking deals with the potential of people and places; we as “placemakers” awaken the vitality of life. We need to think of tall buildings and urban habitats as the art of living systems thinking. Our industry needs to consider how every project is nested in a proximate whole and a greater whole, and how our project will interact and become part of the interconnectedness that adds value to people and places. The global CTBUH community has a duty to accomplish it within this decade.
To read more articles from our CTBUH Journal 2021, Issue IV and the special report, Overcoming Carbon, Climate, and Societal Challenges in Cities, you can purchase the latest digital edition in our store.