"In the field of architecture plans, as scores, were originally used to guide and communicate an image of what the building was to be, but the participating craftsmen exercised a great deal of latitude in their own choices and contributions to earlier buildings.  There was much greater allowable latitude for individual participation and creativity. Today, building workers are simply technicians; all is precise and prefixed, not only form and proportion but performance standards and repetitively prefabricated units are joined together according to preordained scoring devices.  Tolerances are minimal, and mechanical, electrical and structural elements all must dovetail together with great precision.  The modern building emerges not in response to the immediate contribution of thousands of workers but as a predetermined event planned years in advance and simply assembled to match the intent.  The score controls absolutely, with assembly-line logic."

Lawrence Halprin, 1969

AI endeavors to turn this scenario around so that craftsmanship, expertise, and consideration of the ultimate functionality of the environment are carefully demonstrated throughout the project. Our unique approach to the Design/Build/Use process allows us to complete an environment within 45 days from project start to user move in--well within the time normally required for most major furniture manufacturers to submit a bid.  This speed of execution coupled with the hardiness of our materials allows us to have solutions on site for our clients.  Our clients can experiment and explore to find what really works for them before most manufacturers can discuss a contract. In a collaborative effort, AI and the client test the viability of the initial solution and decide what modifications need to take place to create the optimal solution.  AI considers the consumer a vital part of our Value WebTM community.  The end user is the feedback to our design efforts and a key partner in the development of our future endeavors.

The degree of component integration required on a project is more like that of a yacht than a traditional building. Structural, mechanical, electrical and electronic components must work together as a single system.  This is an environment of tools and is itself a tool for the production of knowledge work.  These environments are information factories and every element that makes up their parts must directly relate to and contribute to that mission.  Because of the wide variety of work performed in this environment, the space is highly varied with the added requirement of high flexibility and adaptability.  Doors and WorkWalls fold out to configure unique spaces, furniture and work areas on as as-needed basis.  Spaces that can accommodate 50 to 100 people must reconfigure, with ease, to house several smaller teams. Our role is to synthesize, develop, and integrate the best concepts, methods and tools available from research in many disparate fields.

In a complex project such as building these new forms of work environment, the expertise from many disciplines has to be integrated into one functioning whole.  The result has to serve the client's present requirements, as well as remain viable through the entire life-cycle of the building.  Because of the innovative nature and complexity of the project, it is not possible to approach it from a "specialist" framework that rigidly separates the design/bid/build process.  Each individual working on a part of the project must know how their work impacts and is impacted by the rest.  A mistake, oversight, poor design element or shoddy piece of work, that in a typical building would only be a disappointment, in this project can compound until it leads to failure of some major component or function.  For success to be achieved in an economical manner, each worker, contractor, supplier, designer,  and engineer must collaborate and be willing to develop their work within this larger context.
Learn about Athenaeum International's production faclility
See MG Taylor's web site for more information on the Design/Build/Use and the ValueWebTM models.
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Athenaeum International
The Intelligent Workplace
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Boulder, CO 80302
Fax: 303-415-2500
Copyright Athenaeum International 1998