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Green Urban Smart – Part 1

When I sat down here, I knew what to write. Now I forgot.

Our marketing shop asked us about our goals, the way marketing shops like to do. Who are we? What do we want to do? Who is our target audience. They don’t expect us to have the answers. They have copywriters if we need them, obviously not included in the scope of this proposal, but often it’s better to hire someone to say what you’ve been trying to say for all these years. They don’t know we’ve already hired consultants, we’ve already hosted workshops, we’ve already bled and prayed and white-boarded, and put non-permanent easel pages on the wall. We’ve debated vision statements, we’ve worn ourselves through, over whether to have a vision statement. What’s our elevator pitch? Who are we? Do we spend enough time in elevators?

The question, I assume, is about cash-flow. To say who we are and what we do, is to say what we have already done, and what worked out okay, and that’s probably a good way to make enough, worked last time. (did it work last time?) (If it worked last time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?)

Maybe the mission statement is about ambition, morality, better ideas than we had last time, treating others like we want to be treated. Get the proposal right next time, take the jobs we want, win the jobs we chase. Mission statements are about us, but the city moves ahead, and we’re already behind.


That’s us. Let’s talk about you.

Those three words that arrive in a moment at the beginning of the firm, those words that have been tested and sorted and keep standing up. Words we still enjoy. Words that remind us about how to respond when the hard questions come up, and let’s be clear, all the good questions are hard questions.

GREEN is fun. When I started the firm, I was telling you about my sustainability goals, but I was telling myself that I’d never done anything like this before. We don’t have a choice about sustainability – we have to design sustainably, that’s the only way any of this works.

Green has grown into our Parks projects, the work I wasn’t ready to imagine at the beginning. Parks were what Olmsted did, the elaborate imaginations of those extraordinary planners and LA’s that just wander around as in Raleigh: Brian Starkey, Loftee Smith, Jon Blasco are those the only LA’s I know? (Are they all at the same firm now?) I just imagine these saints considering fields, and where to plant a tree, or, a flower, and where to plan a path, a labyrinth, to move us humble humans through the terra firma. And now, those LA’s hire us when they have to concede to providing a building, an amenity, a toilet, a pool. Now, we celebrate pools, we can knock a pool out of the park. Hey, Landscape Architects, your park needs a pool! And, if you have a pool, you might as well have a community center, you know, sometimes it rains, and we still need a way to get together.

And, I love the naiveté of GREEN: I can’t escape it. The calendar (cleary) shows I’m growing up. Our staff is more mature than I am – that can be uncomfortable for all involved. I’m still surprised, I’m sure our whole firm is surprised, by new ideas, by new conversations on the street, by opportunities we didn’t see coming, by pictures in magazines, by that speaker who gave a lecture at the college, or, especially by our clients who are ready to run with that project we weren’t sure we were ready for.

We’re ready, were GREEN, we’re ready for what’s next, we’ve never done this before. This is your idea, nobody has ever done this before, in this place, with these neighbors. They probably even changed the building code again since last time. We’ll figure it out.

Lets go. keep it sustainable, push those limits this time, the technology is better this time, the economy is better than you think. Watch what we can do, you’ll be surprised.

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Osterlund Architects is a full-service architecture and interior design firm, committed to our clients and their work from concept through construction, and through to their next opportunity. Our firm has expertise in all project phases, including programming, pre-design and planning through construction administration and closeout, as well as interior design, including furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) services.

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