I can finally start talking about one of the things that’s been my biggest preoccuption at work for the last several months.

After 30 years on Sand Hill Road, the Institute will be moving to a new office.

Guess who got to run the search for a new space, and who’s been one of the point people for the move.

This has absorbed several months of my time, from my first visit to empty offices in the area to today, and all in all, it’s been a great experience. I’ve sometimes been thrown in the role of working on things or taking on tasks that aren’t within my usual expertise, or require strengths that I don’t have in great abundance (things requiring lots of attention to detail, or an eye for color– I’m a little colorblind).

But more often, the experience has been one that has forced me to think seriously about where I think the Institute is going, what being a futurist is going to be like a decade from now– what the craft practice will be in years to come– and what kinds of space will best suit that practice and our local culture. Or, what kinds of space would push us in good new directions.

Add in thinking about our virtual offerings and presence; the fact that we have a large, highly distributed network of affiliates and experts; that we’re moving to a more intensely visual and experiential kind of practice; and that everyone has strong opinions about where we should locate and decorate; and you get as perfect an exercise in heterogeneous engineering as you could hope to find. Talk about balancing a wide variety of forces, and recognizing both the power of social interests and the recalcitrance of nature.

Plus, I’ve always had a passion for the history of architecture and design, so this is a chance to get back in touch with those interests. Which may be like going from a passion for the history of medicine to attempting open-heart surgery.

I think there will be a real article or two in all this. Our new office is going to represent a big bet about where the field should go, and be our vehicle for getting there– for developing those aspects of our practice that we think will be most rewarding, and that we can do uniquely well. And it’s also an exercise in thinking about how physical space, social space, and virtual/network space all mesh. Mixed in with having to decide on carpet and paint, and figure out how many linear feet of bookcase space we’re going to need.