Give it your all.

So far, 2010 is flying by. February's almost out. January was near non-existent. Is it just me, or does each year get shorter? Less time, more work, fewer and fewer of us sticking with our New Year's resolutions.

My resolutions this year are pretty humble. Keep in touch with friends and family (the easy one). Floss (the hard one). Get to kickboxing at least twice a week (the one I was already following). Be the best, most creative and inspired designer I can be (the important one).

Striving to be the best has always just been in my blood. I'm not only a perfectionist, but I'm also naturally competitive. This combination, I think, makes for a great designer - which I hope to be one day. One who's not afraid to get outside of the box, to present the really out-there ideas, to be shot down. It also makes for a designer who's always striving for greatness, for one's self and one's client. It does not, however, make for a modest one.

In that light, I now proclaim a fifth resolution: Aspire to be humble.

I got a good taste of humility from the logo I designed for the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center. That project took me back to a familiar place - working for an important cause with only the hope for success for the event and the organization. As Michele said last week, my passion for the cause burns brightly.

So I share with you here a little motivation to reinvigorate your commitment to your resolutions, whatever they may be:

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

angela k mitchell
art director

we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Opportunities for Growth in Institutional Building

Opening his State of the Union address with a reference to the periods of economic trouble America has faced and endured in the last century, President Obama appealed to Americans looking for answers about how to revive a still struggling economy. With his allusion to the ability of the American government to survive the Great Depression, Obama inevitably set himself up for comparison to FDR, the last Democrat to inherit a debilitating economic crisis upon his inauguration. When FDR took over the presidency in the midst of the Great Depression, he funneled US dollars into the public building market, creating large-scale public works and infrastructure projects that would ultimately transform both the physical and economic landscape of America.

A look back at this period of American economic history gives hope to those members of the building industry plagued by losses in both the commercial and residential markets. In order to achieve long-term success in improving the economy, the current administration must make large investments that will bring big returns. In 1933, FDR initiated programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority, which included provisions to build schools and healthcare facilities and the Works Progress Administration, which built hospitals, schools and government-sponsored projects like parks and airports. Today, Obama’s stimulus funding provides the impetus for the same kind of building supported by the government seventy-five years ago: institutional building with a focus on education, healthcare, and government facilities.

While commercial spending continues to fall, the stimulus package creates opportunities for growth in institutional building. And if there’s one buzzword surrounding these opportunities, it’s sustainability. The key to healing a wounded economy is opting for changes that will offer a big payoff in the long term rather than quick fixes that will just require more spending in the near future.

What does this mean for building product manufacturers? Take a lesson from history and become involved in the public building investments that have been and will continue to be undertaken nationwide. To gain a competitive advantage, building product manufacturers must appeal to the architects and customers responsible for these building projects. With new energy efficiency standards rapidly being put into place, architects are specifying products that will contribute to energy efficiency and sustainability.

Funding for institutional projects has taken off in the past year and design-build companies with a green eye have come out ahead. College campuses nationwide are looking for ways to become more sustainable, and they are competing to fund projects that will build new green buildings and retrofit old ones for energy-efficiency.

Recently, the US signed a contract to begin construction on the US Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters in Washington, DC. Building Design and Construction reports that this project, the first phase of which will be headed by joint venture Tishman-AECOM, is the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon was built. The total cost of this project, with an anticipated completion in 2016, is expected to top out at around $4 billion.

Building Design and Construction
also reported in December that the state of California is undergoing three large-scale healthcare construction projects. The total cost for building the three hospitals is expected to be an astounding $4 billion. Building teams for the hospitals are collaborating to use the most advanced and efficient green designs available in the building market.

By offering products that meet the needs of the institutional market, building product manufacturers can not only make themselves more valuable in the construction industry, but can also play a role in revitalizing the nation’s economy.

jessica itzel
business development + pr

we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

We're into building things.

It's not just our company tagline, it's our motto. Daily, we build strategies and tools that help architects and designers discover products that enable them to design and construct healthier schools. We build relationships between building product manufacturers and building owners. We ultimately build a brands awareness and sales. As exciting as that can be, one of the most rewarding things we get to build is within our own community. Each year, Function: steps back from building products for a few moments (just a "few" moments, dear clients!), and takes on pro-bono community events, such as Tour Decatur and Take Back the Night. It's a great opportunity for us to build a following and increase awareness for them.

For the past four years, we've worked with Tour Decatur, a 5k race and walk that benefits the Decatur Education Foundation. It's a great program to further eductation in our schools. And this year, I think I'll finally get to run it! The Decatur community is always supportive to hang the
posters, and I think one of the neatest things for me, is when my kids say "Look, there's your poster!" Here is yet another example of how good design can command a following...the better the race shirts, the more people we get to sign up. When they started working with Function:, their goal was to have the "coolest race shirts out there".
A new cause we have taken on this year is Take Back the Night, a 5k race to benefit the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center. It is an honor to work with them on this event, developing an iconic logo for their 20th year. Our fabulous art director Angela created an incredible mark for them that they loved immediately. Her enthusiasm for the cause truly shows. They will undoubtedly get a lot of runners this year!

So building things is pretty exciting stuff, be it building products or building community awareness. And what better way to build a following then through social media. In other words, this is also a blatant spreading of the word for two dynamic causes...sign up to run!

LEED® is the New Black: Can eco-friendliness outlast our own attention spans?

photo credit:

It finally happened. Thanks to Al Gore, polar bears, and time-lapse glacier photos, being green is trendy. Celebrities sport organic bamboo T-shirts with giant recycle symbols; green energy stock is through the roof; every retail store has reusable shopping bags (albeit each one of their own design). The effects of climate change may not be visible everywhere yet, but everybody has started to feel the heat. Literally.
Today, being green is good business. From a PR perspective, people like companies who respect the environment because it gives them a sense that they will respect their customers as well. In architecture and design, LEED® gold certification is the modern version of the Pritzker Prize.
The city of Decatur, home to Function:, has embraced this trend with open arms.
David Orr, ecological design guru and author of Down to the Wire: Confronting the Climate Collapse, recently gave a talk at Agnes Scott College here in Decatur. As one of the founding professors of Environmental Studies (currently at Oberlin College in Ohio), he focuses his studies and work on Environmental policies and, more recently, on green building. In a speech Orr gave, he talked about realities for ecobuilding: "Is it possible to design buildings so well and so carefully,” he asked, “that they do not cast a long ecological shadow over the future that our students will inherit? We now know that such things are possible -- that buildings can be designed to give more than they take."
The kicker? This speech took place in 1999, over 10 years ago. Clearly, Dr. Orr was ahead of his time, a pioneer of the movement. But is the environmental movement moving slower than it should be?
During his lecture at Agnes Scott, Orr had a catchphrase: “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.” In line with his working philosophy, David Orr’s new book is not just a sobering assessment of climate change; it’s an urgent call to action. Unlike other more macabre presentations of a rapidly destabilizing planet, though, Orr offers something redemptive: realistic and effective solutions. Not for reversing the damage done already, which most scientists don’t think is possible, but for slowing the decline of natural resources. His plan in action can be seen in Oberlin, OH. Orr and his former students, now architects, engineers and community activists, are responsible for the $7.2 million Oberlin Environmental Studies Center, named the most remarkable college building by the New York Times and recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy. Among its other milestones, the center is only U.S. college building to be completely solar powered and the first to be completely climate neutral.
We can only hope that this trend will last longer than bell-bottoms or boy-bands. Active hoping, with our sleeves rolled up and our minds looking towards the future of green building and green living.

jessi probus
public relations intern
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Greetings from The 2010 Builders' Show

When people ask me how my trip out to the desert went, I didn't expect to be telling them "cold and rainy."

Not what you picture when you think of Las Vegas, is it? I was hoping for a little break from the damp and dreary Atlanta winter but instead got more of the same cold, wet weather while visiting Vegas for the 2010 Builders' Show.

While the weather may have been dicey, I spent the majority of my time inside the Las Vegas Convention Center walking 500,000 square feet of trade show that featured some 1,100 exhibitors. The turnout was solid (55,000+ registered attendees) and despite a strong showing at the IBS last year and the bad weather happening outside, gloom and doom were nowhere to be found at this year's show. To me, more important than anything quantifiable, the most promising indicator for the industry was the upbeat mood and overall positive feeling amongst attendees and exhibitors alike. The exhibitors did not disappoint either - new, innovative products were showcased and I saw some very impressive booths while walking the show. The 2010 Builder's Show was no gamble!

ted hettick

business development manager
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations