He's got the Wright stuff

August 11, 2010

January 22 was a special day here at Building Design & Construction and at our parent company, Reed Business Information. That's the day our own Gordon Wright celebrated 30 years with the magazine. Although we have many 30-year veterans in our company, only Gordon and one other editor have served continuously with a single publication for 30 or more years.

Gordon's first cover story, "The short, happy birth of Penrose Library" (April 1973), featured an interview with a very young Gyo Obata. Describing the 150,00-sq.-ft. library at the University of Denver, Obata gave Wright these golden words: "The team approach, with the architect and building working together, was one of the most important elements of this project."

The team approach, which he has expanded to include building owners as well as designers and contractors, is a theme Gordon has wrapped into every story he's ever written for us. It's the unique editorial foundation of this publication.

Later that year, Gordon was assigned to interview the legendary Harry Weese. Gordon admits today that he was slightly intimidated at the thought of meeting this giant of the Chicago School of Architecture, so he walked around the block before knocking on Harry's door.

Of course, Gordon's fear that he might run out of questions proved totally unfounded, since Harry, rest his soul, had no trouble filling two hours with his own theories and philosophy, regardless of what Gordon asked him. The result: a brilliant profile entitled "Serving up happiness in the Arcade of Life" (August 1973).

Gordon had one other milestone that first year. The American Institute of Architects' national headquarters in Washington, D.C., was completed around the time Gordon joined the magazine, affording him the opportunity to write a cover story celebrating the event ("An updated Octagon: backdrop to history," May 1973).

Thanks, Gordon, for more than a million brilliant words.

Designing for health

By a curious concatenation of events, I'll be recovering from gall bladder surgery as you receive this issue. I mention it because our Special Report on so-called evidence-based hospital design can be traced back to a study of gall bladder patients in the late 1970s. Those poor souls had to undergo some serious cutting, necessitating a gruesome six-week recovery. Today, thanks to the twin miracles of laparoscopy and Vicodin, I hope to be feeling better in days, not weeks.

This condition has afforded me the opportunity to observe more hospitals and physicians' offices than I would care to in recent months. From this unscientific sampling, I feel ever more confident that the healthcare establishment, as well as the hospital design and construction community, could benefit from a close examination of the concepts inherent in evidence-based design. Moreover, as you will note on page 58, there are lessons to be learned from this movement that can be applied to your work, even if your firm has nothing to do with healthcare.

Let me know what you think about our coverage of this or any topic in the magazine. Drop me an e-mail at: rcassidy@reedbusiness.com. Thank you.


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