Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Office pt. 1

I didn't post yesterday. My original goal was to create a habit of blogging every day, after I finish dinner and walk upstairs. I arrived at my apartment at 4am, and didn't feel like cooking dinner. This means my whole routine was broken. Because of this missed day, I want to make it up to you guys by putting up some real information about my job, office, and working life in general.
Right now there are about 13 employees with a pretty wide range of nationalities: 3 Americans, 2 Irish, 1 French, 2 Belgian, 1 Portuguese , 2 Italian, and 1 German. I think I'm the only one that can not speak French, but the office functions in English. Most of the people from will slip and communicate in their native language, with French its not so easy, Dutch on the other hand is great. I can usually guess my way through Dutch via hand motions and similar Germanic syllables. I'm not confident enough to answer phones yet... what if the person who's calling only speaks French? What if it's the principle of the firm and he has an important task that I'd rather not do? Too many unknown variables for me to feel safe.
I've told you guys about the laptops. First arrivals usually grab the better computers, but there is inevitably some swapping later in the afternoon or night when people realize they don't have all the software they need and someone else is using the best computer in the office to listen to itunes while sketching on trace. We have an office network that is very well structured and contains a "bible." A quick read provides all the information you need when starting in the office in Copenhagen... which is as useful as it sounds for the new BXL (Brussels) employees. Everyone communicates in the office via email and Outlook. I don't have to know any ones email address because I can just allow the network to pick the correct one based on their first name alone. Passive aggressive tendencies flourish in a system where you can send an email to the entire office about the trash by using "BXL" as your recipient.
That brings me to my position in the office. I am a member of the GRO team, and the irony may not reach many of you, for some it exists as a wonderful inside joke. We are working on a large scale housing competition for the town of Gronigen in Holland. The photo at the top is of a model built in the past week, and it represents 100,000 square feet of housing. I am on a team with the design architect of the firm, and the two Belgian guys. Every single day we set up images of what we've completed and make a daily report to send to the Principal of the firm. He (usually) sends a one line reply that gives us another days worth of tasks to figure out.
I have also been placed on team "Office Look." This team is headed by the Portuguese guy and also has another American. We are in charge of documenting the office and deciding if we need more storage, a different layout... any office infrastructure related things. Last week I changed light bulbs for an hour. Finally, I am on a two person rotating "Slick Office" team. There are 7 of these in the office and when it is your turn to be in charge of "Slick Office," you make sure the kitchen stays clean, the garbage and recycling are taken out. You are also in charge of dusting the models. There is a lot of work involved in the office.
I've realized the depth of difference between this office and my last, and probably many other offices of both architecture and otherwise, that I should probably take a little more time and separate these posts a little. I may continue tomorrow... I may talk about chocolate. There's also a 90% change I'll be starting work in Belgian time and ending work after east coast time folks. Not only is there a big milestone presentation on Thursday for GRO, but "Office Look" is in charge of building new tables for the office on Thursday. Wonderful.


  1. Nuts to the passive aggressiveness.. but i like the idea of teams and sharing duties.. is the communication otherwise good? does the designer listen to you measly interns?
    there's no office manager or receptionist to answer the phones though? seems like it would be a minor cost considering there is 13 arch employees.

    also, for some reason only 1 of the images above is a link.. and it happens to be the kitchen image.. i'd like to see the others at full resolution if possible.

  2. It would be nice to get some real images... I like the addition of the little gadgets in the side bar - 32 and foggy in bxl, looks like it'll be a little warmer on thurs - you should put some ads and I'll click on them all day and get some money flowing your'll never escape GRO

  3. To Chad... I actually have no idea how I made the kitchen image a link... I didn't do it on purpose. To justin... There is an Ad, I wanted to try it out. I think there are two options, price per click and price per 1000visitors. I'm gonna have to say I may not get much of either.

  4. i would stick with the add you have.. in a few days it should start to show contextual rather then seemingly random copy.. additionally.. clicks via adsense are IP and Cookie based.. there is a diminishing return to clicking a lot.. it gets technical but the best way to think about monetizing is long term.. build up the readership and influence via RSS, Email, Twitter, etc.. move over to wordpress and within a year (and good #'s) you'll be seeing some decent income. so far though the progress and writing is awesome.

  5. i have no idea what all the chatter is in reply to you blog but i'm happy that there is a sense of organization (i.e., lots of cleaning) in the office. everything there appears very small, as is the nature of the euro-city environs, eh? give 'em hell, harry!