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The Importance of Good Building Design

Buildings - the places where we live, learn, eat, sleep, and work - greatly effect our lives and how we live them.

Consider how much of your time each day is spent inside. 80 percent? 90 percent? Even more? This simple revelation reveals how important a building's design really is. A structure should not merely provide shelter from the elements, it should uniquely cater to the needs of it's inhabitants in a manner that promotes creativity, health, and happiness.

One man who understood this principle was Steve Jobs. In November 1999, Jobs' budding company, Pixar, needed a new corporate headquarters, so he took it upon himself to pilot its design. Jobs obsessed over almost every minute detail of the building, desiring to create a workplace that "promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations."

"If a building doesn't encourage that, you'll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that's sparked by serendipity," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson.

Needless to say, Pixar's new headquarters exceeded even Jobs' elephantine expectations.

Pixar-Office.gifBuilding design is an art and a science.

"Steve's theory worked from day one," John Lasseter, Pixar's chief creative officer, recalled to Isaacson. "...I've never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one."

In realizing the profound affect that a building can have on its occupants, Jobs was ahead of the curve. Around the same time that Jobs was dreaming up Pixar's headquarters, a significant study came out from Heschong Mahone Group, a design consulting firm that - like Jobs - was also ahead of the curve. Their research showed that students who took lessons in classrooms with more natural light scored 25% higher than students in the same school district!

It's becoming more and more apparent that an adeptly and suitably designed structure can improve worker productivity, boost student test scores, decrease sick time, and even promote physical activity, all while increasing energy efficiency. Today, these boons aren't just available to Steve Jobs and Pixar, they're available to anyone. As entities across the United States look to renovate and upgrade existing structures, they must realize that they're building for the future. It's high time that innovative building and design practices be given

the complete and full attention they deserve. Such designs may slightly be more expensive, but it's unprofitable to miss out on the benefits they can yield.

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Ross Pomeroy
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