"An environment's image may be analyzed as three components--meaning, identity, and structure. It must have some meaning to the observer; it must speak to those who enter it. A workable image also requires that the object be distinct from other objects--to have identity."
Christopher Alexander, 1974
"You can't help picking up[ the concept that the familiar place--home--generates a secure feeling, and the novel one--playground--a sensation of potential danger, and that individuals differ in how great they want the mix to be. To interpret an environment, you must not only describe it but also the reactions of different individuals with different genetic and experiential backgrounds."
Winifred Gallagher, The Power of Place, 1993
Management Centers, by definition are extraordinary environments; they are human information factories. As such they must be fine works of architecture and have a highly developed intimacy with the human creative process far beyond the requirements of the traditional office building. Our environments are designed to connote work to the observer--but work with a decided difference. When you walk into these environments, you are immediately flooded with the message that his is for work, for rolling up your sleeves. It is an environment with variety for stimulation and immediate access to the tools the users need to do their work effectively. It is an environment to create, store, reflect, retrieve, and recreate knowledge and information. The environments tell you that. It is a unitary message that comes on all levels--visceral, intellectual, and visual.
In nature, there is variety, but traditional environments eliminate that variety and strive for uniformity. Environments that inspire creativity accommodate the human need for variety--for safety and for adventure--in alternate spaces of prospect and refuge. Athenaeum International/MG Taylor environments display variety and balance in all of the elements--in light, in sound, in materials, in the way users move within it. What is on display is not so much a design aesthetic--though this is present and was consciously constructed--as it is a way of working expressed through design: fluid, open, dynamic, energetic. Counterpoint and geometric "play" create spaces and sub-spaces that read logically, have a unique character and provide many places for "practical" thins to happen.
The entire environment must look and feel like one organism. Within this myriad of sub environments, spaces and activities can take place. Space must divide for protection of different groups and functions, and the space must flow together. One must be able to develop a sense of the other areas, pick up the energy from them and logically move to different areas and move to different work areas as the work demands. Spaces can be tied by color and graphics and continuity elements--the hallways as galleries, the wall system weaving throughout the entire plan, the planning maps, the interior plantings. Lighting, sound and air must be controllable. The environment must feel natural and support continuing use without sacrifice of health and mental well being. The center must have its own look and still be part of the larger context ofd its environment, with an effective transition from out side to inside. The center must convey a sense of uniqueness, a sense of relaxed order and excitement and explicit focus on creative productivity, yet maintain a high visual interest level.
Design is an ensemble comprised of form and its context. The rightness of a form depends on the degree to which it fits its context. Good fit requires the building's maintenance, the surrounding conditions, and the patterns of daily life to be fused into the form of the design. Changes in any of these elements will require changes in the form. In an efficient system, these are not catastrophic changes but minute daily ones that keep the building fresh and timeless. This type of architecture is a blend of immediate, kinesthetic, hands-on design and construction, and the more formal rule-based methods of academically trained architects. It requires attention to the building's context--the community, the natural environment, the sense of place.
sense of place is extremely important to human health and productivity.
This sense gives vital context to the work and prevents people from spending
unnecessary physical and mental energy fighting the environment.
While working, a person should know where they are; they should sense the
nature of their plane, region, human culture, and the work they are performing.
Architecture establishes this context, this sense of place. The environment
must supply a variety of references that establish time and place in a
concrete way. The movement of natural light across the space established
the passing of time. Familiar local scenes--the steady movement of
sculling shells on the river, or the sparkle of snow on the mountains--establishes
a sense of geographical place. Careful display of work in progress,
reference materials, books and tools, and advances the environment's inhabitants
have made on the work at hand encourages them to synthesize and develop
their solutions further.
Introduction: Integrating Philosophy, Art, Engineering, Craftsmanship, and Business
The New Workplace
The Art of Creating Enduring Environments - Part 2: Spatial Pattern
Craftsmanship and Engineering: The Keys to Environmental Sustainability