Saturday, March 5, 2011

Glass Research Towers instead of Research Parks

Research should be done in Towers not Parks to increase collaborations.

Let's call them Glass Research Towers instead of Ivory Towers which have such an uncollaborative reputation.

Buildings for research and technology venture companies should foster collaboration, Glass Towers can do this, Research Parks cannot. The typical Research Park is a large piece of land outside of town and one relatively low building is made for each institute or company. Companies or Institutes sign long term leases for the Park to make them a building. If an organization wants to expand it involves another long term lease and a long time to make a new low lying building. A small organization just getting started doesn't have the resources to sign a long term lease for an entire building. Small companies end up somewhere else in some kind of incubator.

The Park employees drive their cars into their Institute, work, eat in the company or drive out of park (through a few limited access road so there is lots of traffic) to lunch, work again and then drive home. They will probably never meet anyone from another building, not any fostering collaborations.After hours Parks are almost empty of people so few businesses like restaurants, that would provide a place for people for different Institutes to meet set up because their is so little dinner business.

The Parks could be a lot smaller in land area with a few tall Glass Towers. There need to be a few Glass Towers since some Research Organizations have heavy equipment like MRIs that would be hard to put in the higher floors. Smaller land requirements means the Glass Towers could be closer to town. The taller buildings would reduce the rental cost per foot ( For a description of tall building advantages see http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/). Organizations could still limit access to the their floors with the key swipe cards. Small unstable Organizations could get shorter leases. Growing organizations could lease new floors as needed (and shrinking Organizations could shrink as well and not be stuck a a large empty building they don't need).

Support organizations could provide services to multiple organizations in the Glass Towers when needed.  There could be software development companies, IT hardware support, computer help-desk, cloud computing, human resources, intellectual property and possibly venture capitol on site for the Research Organizations to hire when needed and not have to keep on staff when not needed. This could be a tremendous savings and convenience for smaller Organizations that cannot afford to keep all this in house.

There could be other non research support like restaurants, cafeterias, fitness clubs and day-care. Researchers would meet in these common areas fostering collaboration.  All of the support services would give small organizations most of the luxuries and strengths now only available to the largest organizations while maintaining small organization strengths. If there is any space left over put in a park instead of the the massive amount of parking lots needed by people driving between all of the spread out buildings.

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