I've been having a lot of fun and periodic frustration rehabilitating an old house on a failed farm in some of the most beautiful Great Lakes countryside. I spend weekends during the non-winter months puttering around with tools and materials. I was very pleased recently to find a cache of maple boards from a water-powered mill to finish the flooring in the last room needing major attention. Everything else seems to get paced by this activity.
The place of the product in The New Technical Workplace I've developed a model I call The New Technical Workplace to bring new thinking to the spaces and places where product development takes place. I consider five key subjects to shape a new typology to advance the performance of companies in this domain – Products, Projects, Presence, Proximity and Platform. You can find more about that in other places. The power of the Product in the workplace is rarely exploited in industrial companies, and is well-developed in consumer product companies, Architecture firms, in their classic posture, are a good example of the importance of the product in the workplace, where the object of study and development is done in scale. Link
A reinterpretation of public place There are places in cities that once assigned to roles for "the indigent, the criminal, the insane, the contagious, and the abandoned dead" are overlooked when those purposes are no longer served in that way. Somehow, after many years of clutter, Governor's Island in New York was redeveloped for public purpose. Paul Goldberger has written a great critique of the result. His appreciation. Connecting the achievement to our current anxiety over immigration he says:
Symbolically, the completion of the Hills could not have come at a more opportune moment. During a season when mindless hatred against immigrants runs rampant in our land, the vista from the top of Outlook Hill offers an instructive panorama. It begins at the mouth of the Atlantic beyond the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, continues past the Statue of Liberty and her upraised torch in full frontal welcome, moves toward the longed-for gateway to freedom, Ellis Island, and then culminates with the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, an unprecedented vision that thrilled new arrivals by sea well into the twentieth century.
The Golden Door, as the poet Emma Lazarus called this stretch of waterfront, has never been presented in a more inspiring visual perspective than is now available from Outlook Hill. With the view comes an implication of how the lives of the twelve million women, men, and children who passed through Ellis Island were immeasurably improved by American citizenship, to say nothing of those of their hundreds of millions of descendants. That alone is enough to make the brilliant architectural transformation of Governors Island a timely, uplifting, and sobering civics lesson. Link
In the midst of threats, a good reminder on the resilience of cities:
Cities that wish to prosper as cities, rather than glorified siege forts, will continue as they’ve always done: adapting to change, encouraging meritocracy, exploring new ideas, protecting old sites and buildings and using them as heterarchical hubs around which to build modern interconnecting villages within the city. Cities are not just outer physical shells, but people-focused networks and processes. For all the perils and dazzling promise of innovations, it isn’t utopia or dystopia cities need to prepare for but the challenge of continuing to continue on. Everything is growing but the time to do something about it is shrinking. Link
On a similar note, Jan Gehl, urbanist, formulates five rules for designing great cities: Link
Stop building "architecture for cheap gasoline."
Make public life the driver for urban design.
Design for multisensory experiences.
Make transportation more equitable.
How to get rich I am not sure how or who pointed to this article this week. Back in 1999, Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel) offered thoughts on nations, communities and companies. Diversity of thinking was a key theme in the interview as Diamond pointed out that innovation typically arises from the outside. A very good reminder as we struggle through considerations of borders in the face of global cultural disruption.
So what this suggests is that we can extract from human history a couple of principles. First, the principle that really isolated groups are at a disadvantage, because most groups get most of their ideas and innovations from the outside. Second, I also derive the principle of intermediate fragmentation: you don't want excessive unity and you don't want excessive fragmentation; instead, you want your human society or business to be broken up into a number of groups which compete with each other but which also maintain relatively free communication with each other. And those I see as the overall principles of how to organize a business and get rich. Link
Donald Trump would be a disaster for innovation A rather spectacular list of scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and engineers published an open letter expressing some of the same ideas, saying they seek –
...a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America’s technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity , public investments in research and infrastructure, and respect for the rule of law. We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership. Link