Better Demographics

by Don Friedman on November 17, 2017

I’ve recently read two articles that superficially are on different topics but go together well: Curbed on Tiffany Brown encouraging architectural careers for African-American women, and at the other end of the social spectrum, the Harvard Business Review on the benefits of diversity.

The issues in engineering are similar in effect but different in detail from the issues in architecture. Engineering has more of a problem with gender diversity (AKA, it skews male) and architecture has more of a problem with racial diversity (AKA, it skews white). Both profession have both problems, overall.

There’s no point in my rehashing what’s in those two articles, but I agree with the point of path of them. To add something that is implicit in the HBS piece: it’s good business to hire people from diverse backgrounds. The obvious benefit is to avoid group-think, but there’s a more subtle argument that ties to the Curbed piece: learning. Having a diverse office – and at this time, OSE does not have any two employees with the same background – means that we are sometimes forced to explain ourselves more than would be necessary in a more uniform office. And that is fantastic. Any time you think you know something, try explaining it. If you can explain it clearly and succinctly, than you actually do understand it. Increasing diversity of a profession, as Ms. Brown is trying to do, increases the different viewpoints, which is good, but also forces people to defend their viewpoint. Everyone wins.


Privacy and Collaboration

November 10, 2017

It seems like everywhere I turn I’m finding another article on the downside of open office layouts. In one sense this doesn’t matter to us: we’re less than a year into an eight-year lease, so we’re pretty much stuck with what we’ve got, which is a group of semi-private rooms. Despite the lack of a […]

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Catching Up On People

November 8, 2017

Two interesting articles on firms and employees: on office manuals and new employees, and on emerging professionals. Linking to them is my way of saying that I’ve neglected talking about people for a while and we’ve been hiring. Our new people, in alphabetical order, are: Tawhid Chowdhury, who has a Bachelors of Civil Engineering from […]

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Fire and Information

October 28, 2017

I have nothing to add to this interview other than I found it to be a fascinating read. Fire fighting isn’t just about putting out fires, it’s about learning how to prevent them and how to reduce the risks they cause. 

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The Hedgehog And The Fox Debate Practice

June 29, 2017

The oldest version of the saying is from Archilochus: The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing. It shows up in Aesop and was more recently used as the based of an essay by Isaiah Berlin. If we strip away various morals that have been found in that one sentence, it is a comparison of […]

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Office Processes As Technology

May 31, 2017

I’ve talked before about the changes in office technology during just the period covered by my career – thirty years, so far – but I was recently reminded that the edges of “technology” blur imperceptibly into the surrounding social context. The internal operations of any office (I’ll use ours as an example) are a set […]

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Who Builds Your Architecture

April 23, 2017

Who Builds Your Architecture? is an ongoing discussion of the labor force in construction. Worth reading; worth thinking about, particularly the next time you hear about a mega-project.

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B Corps in Public

April 13, 2017

Wine on sale in a deli near our office: One sign of success for anything new is when the general public becomes aware of it. For example, I had used email within closed systems, like the on-campus computer network when I was an undergrad in the mid-80s, but I was amazed 1990 to hear about general-purpose […]

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Looking for a Project Manager

April 10, 2017

And now for something completely different… Old Structures is looking for a project manager. I’m going to describe who we’re looking for in this blog post and trust that if anyone reading is interested they’ll get in touch, or if anyone reading knows someone who might be interested they’ll forward a link to this post to their friend. […]

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What Do We Do All Day?

March 29, 2017

George W. Melville, Chief Engineer of the United States Navy Bureau of Engineering, in the 1890s. A serious man with a serious hat. We’re fairly busy right now. Also, we have two part-time student interns learning the basics. When you combine those two facts, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we all […]

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