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Bo

I'm sure we all have stories of experiencing architectural "beauty during construction" that subsequently disappears as projects are completed.

There was one point with this building during the construction of the Naito Avenue facade - just before the glass went on - when all the mounting clips for the panels were visible on the prepped but incomplete exterior surface. Driving by one day, I was dumbstruck by the composition, pattern and texture these clips created on this wall. There was clearly a subtle underlying order, but I felt the chaos was strong and powerful, and more strangly beautiful than anything I had ever seen.

I didn't know that these were just a prelude to the glass, and actually thought this was going to be the most remarkable looking building facade in the city. Needless to say, I was sad when the glass was installed and this remarkable and ephemeral visual composition was gone - but I felt lucky to have seen it all, even just that once or twice.

Did anyone else have a similar experience? Did anyone capture it in photographs?

Rob

I would suggest you contact Mercy Corps and review the video of Edwin Schlossberg's presentation. The program for the space is action center, and it is well realized.

Steve L.

Nice building.

Though natural light is a wonderful thing, glare can be a problem for many computer users. In general, I think there is a need for better systems to screen or redirect the natural light by individuals in their workspace. Many folks don’t know they are being affected by the glare until it is removed, and symptoms like headaches become less frequent.

matthew

Thanks for picking up on the hierarchical layout of the new building. Like many larger, high-profile non-profits that you might expect to break the corporate paradigm (ACLU comes to mind), Mercycorps doesn't deliver on this front.

I volunteered there for a while years ago. The old offices were clearly divided between those who "thought" (the idea people, the executives, the people with fancy degrees, etc) and those who straight-up worked (the volunteers and coordinators, the fundraisers, the accountants, etc). There was a small kitchen between the two - our side typically did the dishes.

Mercycorps falls into another dominant and ultimately unsatisfying paradigm of ours - philanthropy. I am reminded of words of Umberto Eco describing the 'good work' of Superman (paraphrasing): He can seemingly save the world when it is in peril, but he can't seem to do anything, or doesn't think to do anything, about the root causes of the peril. One of the reasons we need Mercycorps is because we live in a world of such steep inequalities. You'd think Mercycorps would realize this and make a change to how they run their own business. The fact that an executive gave the excuse that they went with the old 'executive ring' model, sans glass walls, as a cost-saving device is, frankly, bullshit.

Steve L.

In workspaces where managers don’t have cellular offices, managers rely on closed meeting rooms for reviews and other sensitive conversations. These workspaces require more building space dedicated to meeting rooms for peak review periods. In addition, finding and scheduling meeting space and being away from one’s office, phone and team affects productivity.

While I am an egalitarian, a cellular office with no windows in the center of a building is for many lower on the hierarchy of workspaces than a well-designed open office. Clustering the walled offices in the center of this workspace would seem to eliminate the huge, open, airy common space in the middle of the building, which is one of my favorite features.

Different jobs require different workspaces. As for egalitarianism, I think most workers would like a flatter hierarchy of pay, than identical workspaces.

matthew

Steve - You seem to imply that there are only two options facing a designer as far as how to lay out an office space. In a sense, actually, you are correct. At the start, the owners and designers can choose between egalitarian (to some extent) or (mostly) non-egalitarian. this initial choice will basically define the broader range of options then available. It seems pretty clear what initial choice was made here. This choice defined what options were available, and a fairly standard model was chosen. Had the owners insisted that a more egalitarian design be achieved, I'm quite certain that the designers could have rocked out some new and creative ideas that would have still allowed for some kind of privacy where necessary. It's not as if you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

One of Mercycorp's favorite slogans is 'Be the change you seek.' Need I say more? Non-profits do themselves and their target audiences a great disservice by assuming that they need to run their businesses like good capitalists. I know Mercycorps does good work, but problems need to be addressed at their roots as well, not just at their branches.

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