Tag Archives: Architecture

Corridors

This idea of corridors has occurred to me over the last few months. I know of no references for the way of thinking that I will try to describe here. I am sure these references exist, but I do not know where they are.

Applications of Corridors
Corridors have application in law, and its sister concept of regulation; in design, and its subset applications of architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and fine arts, such as drama, art, music, and dance; in policy, and its subset applications of corporate policy, or global, national, regional, and local policy (bodies of legislation and accompanying case law and precedent is a broad variant on this idea); in education, when schools ask students to specify a major, to join a department, or to specialize in a field; and in careers, when individuals define their own professional corridors, e.g. in engineering, software design, medicine, law, business, etc.

The Core Idea of Corridors
The core idea is this: productivity is a function of well-designed corridors. Design a corridor that is too narrow, and productivity is stifled. Design a corridor too wide, and productivity suffers from too many permutations and combinations of possibilities.

If any given project is vague, then the progress of the project managers is limited as they attempt to find a path forward that makes sense. Once found, a clear path forward leads to progress in leaps and bounds. If the path forward is not found, among a myriad of possibilities, then project teams flounder and are frustrated.

Corridors in Law
A law is a corridor hammered out by the legislative body. Designed well, a law specifies the corridor by which activity is “legal”. And conversely, a law specifies which activity is “illegal”. Along with the idea of illegal comes the the sanctions applied to those unfortunate enough to be caught doing something illegal.

Corridors in Regulation: the Sister Concept to Corridors in Law
A regulation reflects the desire of a law-making body to avoid making the law itself too narrow (where the language of the law effectively gets into counter-productive micro-management). It reflects the delegation of authority from the law-making body to an agency. The agency is charged with coming up with “regulations’ that define the tactics of the law. Done well, regulations always remain within the corridors outlined in the law. They reflect the intention of the law, and are an executional element of the law. Done poorly, regulation stray beyond the corridors outlined in the law, and can serve to confuse the public and frustrate the law-makers.

An example of Corridors in Law and Regulation: Social Security
FDR is known for making Social Security the law of the land. The US Congress, in adopting Social Security, effectively defined a corridor for aging in the US. From its adoption forward, older citizens who qualify for Social Security are entitled to a “safety net” of income. Because Congress recognized that this entitlement would require dynamic adjustment over time, it authorized the Social Security Administration to publish regulations that would tactically implement, and to adjust over time, the intentions of the law.

Corridors in Design
Creatives focus. The really great ones define corridors for their work. The corridors are broad enough to be highly motivating to the creative – who yearns for freedom of thought and expression. At the same time, they are narrow enough to allow the creative to be highly productive, by applying and reapplying their creative concepts within a relatively narrow scope.

An example of Corridors in Design: Steve Jobs and Apple
An example is Steve Jobs and Apple – a brilliant example of choosing a corridor for creativity and productivity. Apple defined the personal computer as their corridor – with stunning success. As they achieved preeminence in this field, Apple was able to see a larger corridor, which the world now sees as the ipod, iPad, iPhone, and – now – the iWatch. Are these new consumer appliances different than a “personal computer” – the corridor of the original vision? I would argue that they are not different: they are applications of the personal computer corridor, brilliantly subsuming appliances from other corridors into the corridor of personal computing.

Corridors in Policy
I mentioned that policy is an area where the notion of properly chosen, well-defined corridors can lead to high productivity. Corporate, Global, National, Regional, and Local Policy-Makers must constantly struggle to define corridors within which citizens and institutions within their sphere of influence must operate.

Urban Policy as an Example of Corridors in Policy
Take urban policy as an example. Urban design policies found in comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances. These plans and regulations reflect policies about where a given city wants to grow. How much growth should be in industrial, commercial, and residential ? Where are the geographies slated for each? Where does mixed-use fit? What procedures allow for changes over time?

Corridors in Education
Education is probably the most classical application of the example of a “corridor”. It is impossible to know everything. So educators attempt to guide students in narrowing their field of study. An undergraduate education might well define “liberal arts” or “engineering” as a corridor of study. A graduate program might define “public administration” or “mechanical engineering” as a corridor. Unfortunately, however, there are far too many examples of students getting lost in a corridor as large as “liberal arts”. Out of frustration parents and students alike may well force a narrower corridor. Chosen well, such a narrower corridor, e.g. history, can focus the mind and increase productivity and creativity. At the same time, there are far too many examples of those who define an educational corridor that is too narrow, e.g. automotive mechanics.

Example of Corridors in Education
90%+ of US students follow a corridor path that is well-known. They might, for example, take liberal arts as an undergraduate, and major in a science, social science, language, or fine arts. But US students may well have the sites set on graduate school, and so they stay very broad in undergraduate courses so they do not limit their choices in graduate school. A law or medicine graduate student does well to stay broad in undergraduate classes. The medicine corridor in graduate school would naturally expect more science course. The law corridor in graduate school would be inclined to expect high proficiency in writing and communication and analysis as an undergraduate.

Corridors in Careers
What is my career path? Virtually everyone struggles with this question. It is a corridor question and brings with it the same perils of other corridor choices. Choose a corridor that is too narrow, e.g. cost accounting, and the person runs a real risk that opportunities will rapidly fall outside the chosen corridor. The result will be career confusion, as job choices can be endless, and dead-end job choices are everywhere. At the same time, choose a career corridor that is too broad, e.g. systems design, and the person runs a real risk that no employers trusts that the applicant is qualified for a specific job that is available.

Example of Corridors in Careers
Sales is a reasonably common example of a career corridor filled with endless possibilities, and yet it is very specific in the eyes of an employer. “Show me proof that you can sell”, they might say. And with that proof, they may well not care if they have proof that the person can sell a specific widget or software or product or service.

Michael Brill and Bosti

Phil Tabb recently recommended Michael Brill as a source for inspiration. He likened him to Christopher Alexander – in the way that he pursued design principles.

Here is a short write-up about Michael Brill and Bosti:

MICHAEL BRILL
Michael Brill was President of BOSTI Associates for 30 years, and for 15 of those was also a Professor of Architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His career successfully combined the rigorous research and design emphases of his academic background with business-based, innovative workplace solutions to organizational problems.

He led all of BOSTI’s analyses, providing major intellectual content and direction, and developed innovative recommendations solutions. Publishing more than 50 papers, articles, monographs and book sections on this work, he also authored a much consulted two-volume work, Using Office Design to Increase Productivity. Two of his other workplace publications are widely distributed and were translated into other languages: “The Office as a Tool”, and “New Offices, No Offices, Now Offices … Wild Times in the World of Office Work”. He wrote an eclectic monthly column for Interiors Magazine from 1996-1998.

He won many awards for his design-research, including the Star Award for outstanding leadership to the interior design profession from IIDA in 1999, and “distinguished author of the year” from IFMA in 1990. His projects have won 7 national awards from various design magazines. He gave hundreds of keynote speeches and lectures, and his and BOSTI’s work has been featured in the business and popular press, and in major international architectural and interior design books and journals.

Co-Working

The field is going to explode.

The model for co-working is ROAM. GREAT business model – huge uptake. Place was packed.

They currently are in Alpharetta and Dunwoody, and are opening a Buckhead facility in Tower Place this summer. They have a mini-cafeteria, office space, mail handling, membership services, printing, etc.

Here is the download:

http://meetatroam.com

“Roam is the innovator’s workplace; a meeting and gathering experience for the new workforce. We are partnering for success by creating environments where people focus, collaborate, learn and socialize.”

“We are a Collective, a Local Community of Innovators, Pioneers and Visionaries.”

From a member: “Patrick also thinks that energy is Roam’s differentiator. “When you walk into Roam Dunwoody, it’s like you walk into a room full of vibrations,” he says. He loves interacting with the other members here and feeding off of that energy. “Every Roam member is passionate about whatever they do. They really want their business to make an impact.” The members as a whole are a forward-thinking group, open to new ideas and supportive of innovation, “

English Architecture

When thinking about Serenbe and the ten acres we own there, I found myself going back to basics more that I thought I would. This is one of the better articles I have read lately about the philosophy underpinning English Architecture. I couldn’t help myself from commenting as I read, which is what the caption boxes are.

Aspirational Thinking for FM10_20140813 PDF

Forbes Discusses Google and Nest

Forbes Article

Nest Labs is taking the next step in its quest to become a hub for the smart home, by letting other gadgets and services access its learning thermostat and smoke detector for the first time.

With the long-awaited developer program Nest is launching today, other apps and devices will be able to access what Nest detects through its sensors, including vague readings on temperature and settings that show if a person is away from their home for long periods. These services will even be able to talk to one another via Nest as the hub.

Nest, founded by former Apple executive Tony Fadell, has long-been seen as one of the leading companies in the smart home revolution. Google bought the company for $3.2 billion in January, and last week Nest bought video monitoring service DropCam for $555 million to (for better or worse) learn how people behave in their homes, for instance by reportedly tracking how doors are open and shut.

Crucially, Nest is not letting third parties get access to the motion sensors on its thermostat and smoke alarm, says co-founder Matt Rogers — though it’s unclear what sort of access Nest might eventually give to DropCam’s video footage. “We’ve been building it for about a year,” he says. “One reason it’s taken us this long to build is we realized we had to be incredibly transparent with our user about data privacy.”

That means plenty of reminders to developers about what data can be used for, and requirements that they get user permission before sharing data with Nest. It will be a private, but very open platform, says Rogers. Apple’s own foray into smart homes with a service called HomeKit will likely have far more restrictions.

“Also,” he points out, “ours is not vaporware.”

Nest is expecting myriad developers to start building integrations into its two main devices, but it’s already done some early integrations with eight other companies, including wearable-fitness tracker firm Jawbone, Mercedes-Benz and Google Now, the digital mobile assistant that learns about a person’s routines and notifies them of important information. The pitch from Nest: “create a more conscious and thoughtful home.”

As of today, the Jawbone UP24 band will have a setting that turns on the Nest thermostat when it senses its wearer has woken up from a night’s sleep. Mercedes-Benz’s cars will be able to tell Nest when a driver is expected home, so it can set the temperature ahead of time. Smart lights made by LIFX can also be programmed to flash red when the Nest Protect detects smoke, or randomly turn off and on to make it look like someone is home when Nest’s thermostat is in “away” mode.

Developers are excited about the program because it means they can learn more about users than they could before. One partner in the program who didn’t want to be named, said that the extra data they could collect from Nest’s devices could help them become more competitive in their own field. “We can’t live with just the information we get naturally,” they said.

….

Opening up to other services is integral to Nest’s re-invention of the humble thermostat, which some say parallels the way Apple reinvented the mobile phone. “It’s going to be a huge, huge game changer and it’s only the beginning,” Wernick says, adding that the role of the smart thermostat may be gradually morphing “to being a controller for your house and lifestyle.”

The bigger advantage for Google is what it can learn through Nest and potentially through other devices connected to it. Wernick believes Google Now will eventually be able to use Nest as just another sensor point to learn more about people’s lifestyles, so it can better predict habits. “It’s going to understand your behavior better to help guide you in your life,” he says.

Would Google Now be able to use Nest’s data to serve Google’s all-important advertising ambitions?

….

“Nest is sticking its toe in home automation, which opens them to all the same problems that home automation companies are dealing with,” says Dan Tentler, founder of security company Aten Labs and expert on SHODAN, the search engine for Internet-connected devices.

Reference:
Google buys Nest