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DEGW Founder Speaks on Workplace Design
December 07, 2009
There continues to be a need for well-designed real places despite today’s increasingly virtual knowledge economy, Dr. Frank Duffy said Dec. 2 at a lecture at the Darla Moore School of Business. Dr. Duffy, an architect and leading theorist of workplace strategy and design, is a founder of DEGW, a leading strategic design consulting firm operating from 12 offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America.
Dr. Duffy was educated in London, Berkeley and Princeton. In the early 1970s, he helped to found DEGW, a specialized architectural practice supporting numerous global clients in financial services, the pharmaceutical industry, communications, and information technology along with public-sector clients in government and universities. He has been president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the Architects’ Council of Europe, and has been a visiting professor at MIT, University College London, and the Universities of Reading and Lancaster.
Summarizing the history of workplace architecture and interior office design, Dr. Duffy connected the physical structures and layouts of work environments to their roots in business philosophy, social hierarchy, and political movements. Initially inspired by German “office landscape” concepts, Dr. Duffy’s research and practice interests have evolved into a 30-year fascination with information technology and its impact on the design of the workplace and the surrounding urban environment. “What we are currently experiencing worldwide is equivalent to the Industrial Revolution in its impact upon the physical shape of the ways we live and work, and the shape of the ways we teach and learn,” said Dr. Duffy. “Information technology and instant connectivity are everywhere. The genie is already well out of the bottle. An invisible cloud of connectivity surrounds us all.”
During the lecture he argued the case for real places in the context of the increasingly virtual knowledge economy. Bemoaning the existence of the modern meeting room as “always booked, but rarely occupied,” and the confinement of the ubiquitous “office cube”, Duffy advanced the need to explore alternatives. By creating a more mobile environment for workers that maximizes the utility and versatility of shared spaces, Duffy hopes the full potential of real places can be released to create more imaginative and stimulating places for living, working, communicating, collaborating, and learning.
The lecture was of particular interest to Moore School students, faculty, and staff. In July, the University announced it had met a match challenge set by benefactor Darla Moore, raising funds toward the construction of a new building within the Innovista, the University’s innovative research district. As construction plans begin to take shape, the Moore School has begun actively seeking input from faculty, staff, and other stakeholders in determining the nature of its future home.
Written by Philippe Herndon
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