On The Road with Alan- The Future & Farewell Chicago

Today was the Futures Conference in Chicago. About 55 firm leaders from architecture, engineering and construction were gathered by the consulting firm FMI/AMI. It was an unusual opportunity to meet and speak with the leaders of some of the leading firms in the US. The thrust of the conference was that no one can predict the future, but that if you study probable scenarios you will be better prepared to deal with the multiplicity of futures that might arise. The futures that were developed into scenarios were:
• The Perfect World
• Struggle for Stability
• Building Walls
• Controlled Environment
Almost all agreed that the Struggle for Stability was the most like our current reality though there were elements of all the scenarios in what we are currently dealing with and what we might have to deal with in the future.
The keynote speaker was Watt Wacker (yes that’s for real and he is not a PG&E spokesman for high efficiency light bulbs). In the midst of mostly suits and ties he was the guy with the frizzy blonde fright doo, shorts and Teva sandals. He was really quite good. Between high-level corporate futurists gigs he does things like cook for a hunting pack outfit in Montana and drives an airport shuttle for Avis, just so he can look at the world from a variety of perspectives. When I get a little time, I’ll boil down the essence of the day. All in all it confirmed that we are generally doing the right things and that felt good.
This is it for Chicago. Tomorrow is Orlando and the Health Design Conference. Whew!
FuturesFarewell Chicago

On the Road with Alan-A Walk Through Chicago

Out in Chicago for my last afternoon of walking around downtown Chicago, I encountered some impressively varied architecture. The South Loop area has buildings from the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth that are impressive in their grandeur. Walking through the lobby of the Manadanock Building (the tallest structural masonry building in existence I believe) is like walking into an Edward Hopper painting, nothing has changed in a hundred years except the dress. Blocks away I encountered the new Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Its folded curtain wall will bring back images from the Monterey Design Conference where the facades resemble drapery. The interior (including a beautiful small library) is beautifully rendered. After sunset I walked back to my hotel on the Miracle Mile, that section of Michigan Avenue that really has the bustle and the lights of a truly great city.Spertus LobbySpertus Stair Detail
Chicago Night SkylineSpertus Ext

On the Road with Alan-Greater Chicago Food Depository

On Wednesday morning I took a tour of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This food bank is the largest in the country and distributes nearly sixty million pounds of food a year to 600 kitchens and food pantries in the Chicago area. Every time I’m near an established food bank in another region I try to get a tour, looking forward to the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s eventual expansion. The most remarkable thing about this facility is the sheer scale of the operation. The sorting operations were remarkably similar to the automated book sorting systems that I saw at the Seattle Public Library a couple of years ago. Hopefully the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s fund drive is successful as they desperately need a larger facility to handle the volume and demand that is out there.Food Bank ExteriorFood Bank Interior