Faculty at the Texas A&M College of Architecture presented a wide array of projects at the college’s 18th annual research symposium, “Natural, Built, Virtual,” Oct. 24, 2016, at the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M College Station campus.
The daylong event showcased college faculty research on issues relevant to the natural, built and virtual environments in a series of fast-paced lectures abbreviated from talks previously delivered at scholarly gatherings around the world. The 2016 symposium included invited or refereed presentations and papers from the 2015-16 academic year.
Approximately 50 presentations were delivered in several concurrent sessions throughout the day, grouped in broad categories including design, landscapes, mobility, diversity and human development.
Highlighting the faculty presentations was a keynote address in Preston Geren Auditorium by award-winning author Rex Miller, an expert in workplace team performance, who emphasized design as a key element of creating and transforming office culture in ““How Engaging Workspaces Lead to Transformation and Growth.”
In his address, Miller detailed how company executives, in an effort to cut costs, often treat office design as unimportant, creating soul-killing work environments of stressed, fragmented, and disengaged workers.
In an effort to learn how design impacts office culture, Miller and two colleagues, after research and fieldwork with more than 60 organizations, found that employees in flexible, open and engaging workplaces reconnect with work. They detailed their findings in “Change Your Space, Change Your Culture: How Engaging Workspaces Lead to Transformation and Growth.”
“Office space must be designed to inspire a desired culture and workflow – if it's not properly designed, no program, training or rules will be effective over time,” states a publisher’s summary of the book. “Environment can inspire dread or enthusiasm, distraction or focus, collaboration or isolation.”
Miller is also principal of mindSHIFT consulting, which provides executive coaching, workplace culture assessment and leadership development for design and construction industry firms looking to improve or reshape their corporate cultures by adapting a proven approach for successful change. He works with corporate clients including Google, Disney, Intel and Microsoft to build high performance cultures and trust-based project teams.
The college’s annual symposium was established to underscore the influence of research on teaching and practice. It also serves as a catalyst for research-informed teaching in the College of Architecture's degree programs. And, because many of the presentations were originally delivered at scholarly venues abroad, the event also showcases the global influence of research conducted by college faculty.