Confronting Climate Change: The Five Thousand Pound Life

The League’s ongoing initiative to rethink our collective future through design.

Liam Moloney

The United States faces two immense and inextricable challenges: how to reimagine the American way of life to address the impacts of climate change, and how to build a new and robust economic structure that offers viable and sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles across the income spectrum for all Americans. The Architectural League has launched The Five Thousand Pound Life—an initiative of public events, digital releases, and a national design study—as a contribution to what must be a broad collective effort spanning geographies, generations, occupations, disciplines, and ideologies to address those intertwined challenges.

To present a vast scope of relevant issues with navigational and conceptual clarity, content is grouped here into themes of Economics & Investment, Engagement & Practice, Design & Technology, and Communication & Ethics. Visit these 5KL theme pages using the links below to find a range of content from different vantage points. Also included are an essay introducing the 5KL initiative, documentation from ongoing events, and more.



A series of commissioned and curated digital releases as part of The Five Thousand Pound Life in which guest authors give voice to themes and debates central to the concerns that animate the project.

Economics & Investment

In the first part of our curated digital series, we focus on the core connection between our individual and collective channeling of resources and the carbon byproducts of economic exchange.

Engagement & Practice

The second part of our curated digital series is an exploration of democratic citizenship and decision-making within, and outside of, the confines of professional practice.

Design & Technology

The third installment of our digital publication series is an inquiry into the relationship between the iterative process of design and technological advancement in our pursuit of prosperity.

Communication & Ethics

The fourth and final part of our Five Thousand Pound Life digital series fosters an understanding our relationships with, and responsibilities to, other individuals, communities, nations, and generations.

Ideas in action


The value assigned to various forms of land use, and various attitudes toward land as a resource, must be understood in terms of ecological services and impacts rather than narrowly defined economic imperatives.


In nearly all American cities, clean drinking water is available with the turn of the tap. Behind the spigot, however, is an energy-intensive system of legacy infrastructure governed by layers of policy and administration.


Energy is power. Even minor disruptions in the discovery, treatment, distribution, or consumption of energy can produce major disruptions in social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural structures. Energy is a lever unlike any other, and those who have access and influence to this lever closely guard it.


The movement of people and goods is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Global networks of air, sea, and land transit are complex systems that require technical and cultural shifts in order to support climate change mitigation.

Design study

The Five Thousand Pound Life design study

Learn more about the League's effort to confront the root causes of climate change through a national design study that puts people at the center of a prosperous future.

February 26, 2018