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Practice : Fall 2008
effective Collaboration: Moving beyond the Cliché As a design College teaching designers, we need to understand how to teach collaboration; to define it beyond mere language and translate it into practice. PR aCTiCe ] effeCTive CollaboRaTion PR aCTiCe “The team dynamic d oesn’t come naturally and unfortunately many schools develop and encourage that individual, competitive quality of motivation . Competition, while eff ective for moving people ahead professionally, can be dest ructive wh en pe ople need to work together. There have been firms founded on that st rong int ernal structure who now find it difficult to deliver a new collaborative environment. Business str uctures are requiring collaboration to be effective.” — Clark Davis, Vice- Chairman of HOK Group, Inc. Regardless of where you turn, here at the BAC or at almost any design firm within Boston, ever yone, it seems, is being asked to focus on collaborating more effectively. Design firms partnering with the College on our Practice Ac ademy grant candidly share the challenges of enlisting full support as they transition their offices to building inform ation modeling (BIM) and integrated project deliver y. Within our classrooms, a pair of advanced design studios—Solar Decathlon and the Natick Train Station—is making inroads in interdisciplinary instruction with groups of engineering students from Tufts and WPI. Throughout the c ur riculum, progress in collabora- tive instruction is openly discussed and debated by numerous commit- tees. The promise to experiment further is almost ubiquitous. Leaving a meeting the other day, I act u ally overheard a colleag ue mutter under his breath, “I wish that ever yone would leave me alone already with this endless talk of collaboration!” I had to laugh. The simple fact of the matter is that understanding and practicing c ol labor ation cannot be ignored. Not if as designers and educators we expect to prepare the next generation of design profe ssionals whose charge will be to anticipate and address the daunting array of changes and challenges that are already facing us during the first decade of the 21st century. learning from other voices, other Perspectives—other Points of view This past January, BAC’s Board of Director s helped u s move tow ards our goal of understanding how to identif y and apply successf ul collaboration by focusing this year’s winter retreat on the topic for the second year in row. While the 2007 By Len Charney, Head of Practice left to right: Carol Burns, Taylor and Burns Architects; Daniel Wilson, Harvard’s Project Zero PRaCTiCe 29