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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Bringing answers to Indianapolis from around the globe

November 6, 2006

Why should you care how many stamps your architect has in his or her passport? Or whom your architect talks to from around the world?

Because, as national publications declare design to be the new driving force in the marketplace, and as that marketplace becomes increasingly global, your architect can offer you a conduit to the people and ideas that will make a difference in your business in the years ahead.

Indianapolis-area architects already are working to bring the world to your projects. In one recent week alone, I spoke to Indianapolis architects who were leaving for projects they are working on in Dubai, Shanghai and Russia. Why make such trips? Because our international counterparts are undertaking building projects that could serve our clients here.

Thinking big

For example, on other continents, architects are designing buildings that are twice as high as our highest skyscrapers; they're on a pace to construct 1,000 of these monumental wonders in the next five years in Shanghai alone. The Hoosiers involved in such projects build relationships and gain knowledge that can be applied to projects right here in central Indiana.

Such collaborations are having an impact locally on large-scale projects like the new Indianapolis Midfield Terminal and the Phase V expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. Such multi-million-and in many cases multi-billion--dollar projects involve specialists from across the globe working from special "collaboration centers." Owners and design teams understand that for a successful project, these centers create a necessary neutral and often site-specific office environment that promotes interaction, eases gathering and exchanges of information, and encourages team identity and empowerment.

The resulting increased productivity and innovation drive success on a wide range of projects.

Local expertise

Obviously, the travel required to gain this global perspective can be taxing, and not all projects have billion-dollar budgets, so local firms can't constantly send people around the world to uncover new solutions, or hope to have contacts in every corner of the globe for that purpose. That's why it's important for us to work with local product representatives who can connect us with international design expertise.

For example, Indianapolis-based Business Furniture Corp. showcases a number of product lines with reach far beyond the Indianapolis city line, and these relationships allow for connections between local architects and multinational specialists in applied research.

Consider Bruce Simoneaux. As an applied research consultant for Steelcase North America, Bruce travels around the globe examining and consulting on work environments. So far this year, the Dallas resident has made four international trips and traveled around the world twice. Simoneaux's itinerary from just one recent trip included Miami, Trinidad, London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanghai, Melbourne and Sydney-all in the pursuit of ideas and connections that could create new solutions for the workplace.

Simoneaux is well-suited to this endeavor: A Louisiana State University graduate who has been with Steelcase for 20 years, Simoneaux is an architect specializing in organizational development and an expert on furniture systems, lighting, seating, storage and architectural and technology products. By drawing together his international experiences, eclectic knowledge and tangible skills, Simoneaux and countless other professionals like him seek to help companies make their operations better.

The good news is that, through relationships with firms like Business Furniture Corp., we can tap the expertise and experience of Simoneaux and other experts.

The even better news: You have a rare opportunity to hear directly from Simoneaux. He'll take a break from traveling the world to make a stop in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, when you can hear him at a breakfast hosted by the Indianapolis chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Simoneaux is just one example of the kinds of people area architects rely on to contribute ideas, experiences and expertise to the work we do to create physical spaces for the dreams of corporations, organizations and individuals.

They allow us to broaden our horizons and learn from the global marketplace, and they inform our own efforts as we develop innovations of our own.



Lupton, senior project designer/manager with Blackburn Architects, is president of the Indianapolis chapter of the American institute of Architects. Views expressed here are the writer's.
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