The Global Design Alliance

I'm in NYC for meetings with the Global Design Alliance. Originally, my firm joined the alliance as a marketing exercise; however, the real value has been in the "iron-sharpening-iron" interaction with the other firms.

All of the firms in the alliance have a role in the design and construction industry. There are architects with different specialties, MEP firms, Civil Engineers, a law firm that specializes in construction practice, and of course--we are the acoustics and performance technology engineers. It is a small group...about 15 firms; and it isn't something that just anyone can join. You have to be selected, invited and agreed upon. The cool thing is that there is some intangible that seems to be common among all the firms. A high level of integrity and excellence in your field is a given, but there is also something else. A spark that I haven't yet been able to define.

Tonight, we had dinner near Grand Central Station (my favorite New York landmark). Patti--who lives in Manhattan--showed us the whisper room. It was hilarious to see business people standing in corners whispering absurd phrases to each other to see if they could be understood by the person standing on the other side. Cali Yang of Beck and I were whispering to Susie Younie of DEA--something about Swanky Pete or something. I have no idea what it means. Heidi Bilodeaux of Ratcliff Architects suggested it. My guess is there is an inside joke there for Susie.

Afterward, we went for drinks at The Campbell Apartment. The huge gorgeous space was first leased by railroad tycoon John Campbell in 1923. It is a single room 60 feet long by 30 feet wide with a 25-foot ceiling and an enormous fireplace in which there is still a steel safe. The room looks and feels as it did back then with the decor based on a 13th-century Florentine palace with a hand-painted timbered ceiling and leaded windows.

In this photo is Jack Patton of RDG, Dianna Millar of Jacobs (the same Dianna who went with me to see Spam-A-Lot), Barri Garrison of KPS, and of course, me.

One of the cool things about having spent a few years in the alliance is that you wind up becoming friends with the people you are collaborating with. It is a great thing to be able to pick up the phone to ask Dianna about dealing with overseas financial transactions or getting advice from Barri about chasing civic projects.

And of course, the personal blends in with the professional like finding out which shows Jack and his wife went to see when they were in NY this summer, how Dianna's daughter did her first week of kindergarden and how Barri is enjoying life as a newlywed.

Tomorrow morning, Craig Janssen--of my firm--is going to be leading an interactive exercise called Better Together. Craig is a futurist and possible revolutionary. In fact, one time someone asked me if something was successful and I responded, "I don't know. What was the goal?" Their response was, "Oh no, you're channeling Craig Janssen."

In any case, Craig will be in brain-stretching mode tomorrow, and I am scribing for the session, so I'd better wrap this up and get some sleep. I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes, and what radical world-changing ideas emerge.

Honestly, I can't wait!
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall