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Scott Spector

Design & Spec

Five Tips to Build a Better Team

I’m a firm believer in investing. Not the kind that you do with stocks and bonds (although those are good, too!) but also the kind that happens when you put time and resources toward developing a team of professionals. After all, even the most experienced architects, designers and assistants can benefit from additional training and development.

Here are five of my favorite ways to invest in your own human capital:

Lunch and learn. Midday is an excellent time to corral the team to grab a bite to eat and learn something new. Nearly every two weeks we do just that, bringing in speakers or vendors so that our staff can educate themselves on new products, interact with materials and chat and collaborate with one another, usually over a catered lunch. These sessions need not be a passive, sit-and-listen experience, either. To make ours a little more fun, we try to get creative. One week we paired a vendor expo with a whiskey tasting. (Did you know that whiskey spelled with an “e” is generally Irish whiskey, and whisky spelled sans “e” is Scotch whisky?) Another week it was conversation over wine and cheese. Not only does the classic social lubricant make the conversation wittier, but the turnout is always excellent and it gives everyone a much-needed energy boost heading into the afternoon. Read More

Design & Spec

Ready, Set, Revit!

Back in 1997, in Newton, Mass., two gentlemen by the names of Leonid Raiz and Irwin Jungreis, founders of Charles River Software and innovators in the field of parametric modeling for the building industry, decided to take their ideas one step further. After securing funding from venture capitalists, they began hiring software developers and architects to create what is today known as Revit. Several versions and nearly two decades later, it’s gone from a mere concept to a key collaboration tool that is on the radar of architects, engineers, designers and contractors all over the world.

The reason it’s become so popular? It allows users to design a model and its components in 3D right “on the cloud.” Users can then annotate the model with 2D drafting and grab building information from the database, tying ideas together seamlessly. They can visualize design like they were never able to previously (add in a door and it is tagged and goes right into the project schedule—viola!) and play around with designs in real time. Project consultants and trades can work off the exact same model and update it continuously. This process begins on day one of the project. Read More

Design & Spec

Attempts At Transparency

Natural light—it’s at the very top of the wish list of every single tenant and landlord we sit in a meeting with. And for great reasons. Countless studies have touted the benefits, both psychological and physiological, of daylight. Among them are higher levels of concentration, better short-term memory and an improved mood for the workers who frequent these spaces. And, in the end, I don’t think I’ll get much pushback when I say that seeing the light of day is simply aesthetically pleasing. Even the very best interior design cannot compete with the beauty of a blue sky, blooming trees and sweeping views. The writing is on the (glass) wall. Solid is out; glass is in.

One way to make the most of the open, airy vibe clients universally long for is to incorporate glass into the design. While the number of perimeter offices in most spaces is indeed declining, and those lend themselves naturally to floor-to-ceiling windows that let light in, glass is an exceptionally great option for interior offices and other partitions—as well as for senior executives and HR departments clamoring for good acoustics for private conversations. Luckily for us, there has been an explosion in the variety of glass partitioning solutions on the market helping us to tailor the right product for each client’s needs and budget.  Read More

Design & Spec

Entrepreneur Weekend at Colgate University

“Be a student as long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”Henry L. Doherty

This quote sums up my recent experience after touring Colgate University with my son. There we were, college shopping like many other families, and, as part of the experience, we had the opportunity to participate in an entrepreneur weekend set up by the school. Conceptually, the event was set up to introduce this group of millennials, many of whom are would-be entrepreneurs, to the skill set they will need to innovate in today’s competitive business world. Read More

Design & Spec

The Story Behind Brookfield Place

Sometimes the most important parts of a project are the ones that no one can see.

Case in point: Several weeks ago, I, along with many others, took a subway ride down to Brookfield Place for the project’s much anticipated grand opening celebration. It was one of the most exciting trips I’ve ever taken Downtown. After all, I had been visiting Brookfield Place regularly for more than a decade now, witnessing the early phases of design into heavy construction and now, coming full circle, the realization of all those ideas for all to see and experience. However, many people there that day, including those of you who have been reading article after article about the site’s transformation, had no idea what an intricate behind- the-scenes effort went into the Brookfield Place that stands today. Read More

Design & Spec

Getting to the Final Four

Anyone who follows basketball and enjoyed last month’s March Madness knows what a big deal it is to make it into the final four. It’s no secret I’m a huge sports fan (ask anyone who works in the office). I get wrapped up in the games and the outcome. That’s why it was especially exciting when I learned that a client of ours, Quirky, was a contender in Fast Company’s spin on the NCAA championships.

The publication hosted its own Office Throwdown, pitting office against office in a fierce voting competition where readers and social media followers would select their favorite New York office spaces from an elite eight. The contenders were an amazing bunch: Yelp, GrubHub, Shutterstock, Refinery29, Stack Exchange, Etsy, Tumbler — and our favored team in the brackets, Quirky. Read More

Design & Spec

Get Inspired, U.S. Edition

Last summer, I authored a column on the most inspiring cities abroad I’ve visited: Istanbul, Prague, Budapest, Athens and Barcelona. I shared some of the architectural wonders of each and favorite spots to visit, whether you find yourself there on business or for pleasure. The best part was hearing everyone’s feedback afterward. The calls and Read More

Design & Spec

Healthy Office, Happy Office

Wellness in the workplace is no longer a nice perk—it’s now a mandate within the Affordable Care Act. That, coupled with a growing millennial workforce expressing a desire for a flexible, healthy place to spend their days, has companies listening more closely. And they should! (After all, who wants to be tethered to the desk with little to no daylight?)

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that prolonged sitting has significant health risks, regardless of one’s physical activity levels. Along with encouraging movement, there are many other small adjustments companies can “put into motion” to make the office a pleasant, yet productive place to work. Here are eight things every tenant should consider: Read More

Design & Spec

Architect Vs. Architect: Six Key Questions to Picking the Best

There’s much more to choosing the right architect than blasting out a bunch of RFP’s, glancing at the numbers and hoping for the best.

When tenants are weighing one architect against another, they should be able to see, right from the start, what key differences set them apart. Here are six quick questions you can ask to help you determine which company is the right choice for yours: Read More

Design & Spec

No Need to Spec-Ulate (Part Three)

Over the past two weeks, we’ve talked about some of the most commonly asked questions architects face out in the field. We’ve discussed office culture and design, how to work well within a team and now, for this final installment, we’ll delve into four more topics of great interest to landlords and tenants. This column will tackle some hot button issues: money, time, branding and (one of the absolute most frequently posed questions) if we can recommend a consultant for your project.

What’s the best way to keep my budget in check? Read More

Design & Spec

No need to Spec-ulate, Part Two

Last week, I shared three of the most frequently asked questions we encounter out in the field and provided you with detailed answers, based on our experiences. We got plenty of excellent feedback from readers and, this week, we are ready to tackle three more timely topics, all of which address the dynamics of working within a project team:

Do I need an owner’s representative or a project manager? 

The answer to this question is not one size fits all; you have to think about it on a case-by-case basis. Having an independent person makes sense on some projects, but not others. Read More

Design & Spec

No need to Spec-ulate

If you attend as many programming, site selection and new business meetings as I do, you begin to see a distinct pattern: Most clients ask the same exact questions and have the exact same concerns. That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate this column (and the two that follow) to the top 10 most commonly asked client questions. This week, we’ll cover three interrelated topics, all of which pertain to designing a happier, more productive office:

What is the best way to create a successful collaborative space? Read More

Design & Spec

The Next Wave in Office Security

The recent events in Paris have made office security a topic of discussion both in the United States and abroad. Some workplaces, such as banks and federal buildings, had a high level of security even before the events of 9/11. But when two Islamist gunmen forced their way into the office of a French satirical weekly, killing 12 people and wounding 11, earlier this month, it underscored how workplace security should be a concern for all commercial tenants and landlords. Read More

Design & Spec

Are You Down With IPD?

Sometimes I get so excited about an idea that I want to share it with anyone who will listen. That’s how I feel about Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), which I noted in a previous column as one of the five trends to watch for 2015. Given the buzz surrounding the topic generated by attorneys, insurance agents, and building owners we work with, it seems IPD is worth closer inspection.

So what is IPD? Basically it’s a highly efficient project delivery system that many in the construction industry are beginning to adopt to help them streamline complex projects. The idea behind it is to have one central reporting system to integrate input from various parties so that they can collaborate more effectively. They share in both the glory and in the liability. It’s the ultimate team approach. Read More

Design & Spec

Five Design Trends to Watch in 2015

In the architecture and design business, change is the name of the game. No matter how innovative an idea is, in order to create offices our clients will love as much today as they will a decade from now, we need to think about how things will change moving forward. Here are five trends to watch in 2015. Read More