A History Lesson

09/30/2003 |

Feverish and weary, I walked the halls of the NeoCon and the Buildings Show last summer. Combating a head cold and general convention fatigue, I tried to assimilate the numerous product introductions and new ideas. One topic that was repeated over and over was how to best respond to the economy. I decided then to devote an entire Buildings Interiors report to cost-effective design.

Easier said than done. As the editorial staff compiled information for this issue, it was difficult to pin down what makes a space cost-effective. Is it an ergonomically designed workspace that prevents injuries and improves productivity? Is it a flexible interior that can be transformed with ease? Is it a space that makes the best use of technology? Is it a facility completed on budget?

Well, the answer is, “All of the above.”

When I returned to Chicago recently – this time free of coughing spells – as a tourist, I had the opportunity to finally visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie house. Along with marveling at the tremendous renovation effort to restore this historic, graceful home, I revisited the history of Wright. And came across his work on Usonian homes – affordable dwellings for middle-class families that were also valued for classic design.

Reading about the struggle to create elegant solutions in the residential market reminded me of the current efforts by the building team to create value-driven design. In a tight economy, building owners and facilities managers are looking for value in many different ways and uncovering the hidden potential of their facilities. While each of the facilities and professionals discussed in this month’s issue has a different approach, each one is striving for the same goal: cost-effective design equals quality.

– Regina Raiford Babcock, Senior Editor (regina.raifordbabcock@buildings.com)

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