Sunday, March 28, 2004

Building Good For You

I am truthfully not sure how to feel about this:
Sprint built the car parks a 10-minute walk from the office buildings.

Inside, Sprint asked the architects to make the staircases airy and inviting.

The company wants people to use them, so by contrast it has made the lifts slow and small....

Sprint says this experiment shows that if you give employees a nudge, they will take more exercise and so lose weight.

It is good for company profits and for the health of the staff, of course.
Just listen to this company executive on the sound science they used as their basis:
"If you're overweight, you probably have a higher level of absenteeism or you get more fatigued during the day, perhaps you have a lower concentration span," says Ms Davis.

"We all know when we do exercise we have a higher energy level, we're more focused and we're not sick as often," she adds.
Catch the "you/we" usages there? They know what's best for you!
"Walking over from the parking garage sucks," said one disgruntled employee.

"It's not bad," says another, "unless it's 110 degrees outside or below freezing and raining and cold."
Architects design what clients want. Architects have philosophies behind their design processes. It's what distinguishes them from each other. But I fear about this kind of "social engineering" being so explicitly catered to. Especially when other human factors will be subordinated to technology needs, the geography of the site, cost management, etc. Some concerns are over-emphasised and others are blithely ignored.

(Good local example: the Pyramid. It was built with too-steep rises and too-narrow seating in an effort to increase total number of seats. The site and pyramidal design, and the profit concerns of the owners, were given undue emphasis over the comfort needs of the people who would fill it.)

It makes me nervous whenever someone does something "good for me."
Back in Kansas, Sprint's campus is surrounded by six-lane highways.

In a culture where the car is king architecture can only do so much.

The challenge nationwide is to get Americans back on their feet.
Yeah, that makes me feel better....

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