[FoRK] Engineering rules of thumb and Amazon's HQ2 effort

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Sep 11 22:51:02 PDT 2017

On 9/11/17 9:37 PM, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> See also: The curse of building a shiny new headquarters
> http://www.businessinsider.com/poorly-timed-headquarters-2009-11 <http://www.businessinsider.com/poorly-timed-headquarters-2009-11>
> I generally buy the idea that the distraction of creating the perfect new building/monument tends to steal attention from ruthlessly executing the business.

That is a nicely ambiguous phrase...  For Apple and Amazon (and formerly Google and Facebook), faced with way too much cash, it is a 
logical option.  It could pay off in various ways, but just eating up some cash is probably justification enough.

As long as buildings are built large enough to hold one of these for my office, I'm good.  I'll even pay for it myself.

Of course what I really want is:

But I'll probably have to settle for:


> Andrew
>> On Sep 11, 2017, at 7:02 PM, Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>> Are our tech giants getting a bad case of edifice complex?  First
>> Apple with the "spaceship" HQ, and now Amazon putting out an RFP for
>> their second headquarters.
>> Last week, sdw mentioned one of the most famous engineering "laws"
>> (Postel's).  Well, way back at my first professional, permanent job
>> (GE R&D), Stephen Spacil, one of my colleagues, had come up with an
>> engineering "law" that ought to be better known:
>> By the time you build a new facility for an opportunity, the
>> opportunity will have passed.
>> There were many examples at GE in Niskayuna, like the coal
>> gasification building that wasn't completed until coal gasification
>> was shown to be a dead end both economically and technically, or the
>> lab space purpose-built for a division that was sold shortly before
>> the lab was completed.
>> And the corollary is that junky buildings, like MIT's famous Building
>> 20 [1] (built as temporary lab space during WWII, but used for more
>> than 50 years) are often the most productive spaces for novel ideas
>> because no one cared what happened to it -- labs routinely drilled
>> holes in walls and floors to make space or connections for unwieldy
>> equipment, for example.
>> Really makes me wonder about Apple's new headquarters which is
>> probably too beautiful to hack if a flexible space is needed, and now
>> Amazon's stated goal of adding a second headquarters.
>> Ken Meltsner
>> [1]  Brand, Stewart (1995). How buildings learn: what happens after
>> they're built. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-013996-9., cited
>> at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_20
>> -- 
>> After 30+ years of email, I have used up my supply of clever .sig material.

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