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

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Tue Sep 12 09:57:31 PDT 2017


> Back to working on software which is likely to last a substantially shorter
time...

The secret to writing long-lasting software? Write a crappy prototype that
you'd be ashamed to put your name to.


On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 9:55 AM, Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> wrote:

> I suppose this should have been expected from an architect who got his
> start designing cardboard furniture[1], but it may be more of a case
> of "Frank Lloyd Wright"-ism -- great-looking buildings designed with
> little attention to durability (esp. roofs) or maintainability, or in
> many cases, usability.
>
> Here in Portland we have an iconic Michael Graves building which has
> never been well-liked and needs extensive interior and exterior work.
> [2]
>
> Back to working on software which is likely to last a substantially
> shorter time...
>
> Ken
>
> [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Edges
> [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Building
>
> On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 6:06 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer <greg at bolcer.org>
> wrote:
> > My "award winning" office building at UCI for a lot of years was
> disposable.
> > They built it and then tore it down not soon after.
> >
> > Greg
> >
> > http://www.ocregister.com/2007/01/23/gehry-building-at-uci-razed/
> >
> > University officials contend that the Gehry building was not intended as
> a
> > long-term, permanent structure, and that it was falling apart and needed
> > major, costly renovations.
> >
> > The building helped bring UCI to national prominence in architectural
> > circles.
> >
> > Time magazine featured it prominently in a profile on Gehry, and called
> it
> > “improbably beautiful.”
> >
> >
> > On 9/11/2017 7:02 PM, Ken Meltsner 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
> >>
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>
> --
> After 30+ years of email, I have used up my supply of clever .sig material.
>
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