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 Architecture and Communication in Organizations  posted by  duggu   on 1/29/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Burton, Diane, Frank Duffy, and Tom Allen, 15.990 Architecture and Communication in Organizations, Fall 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 10 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Employees working in their offices.

Some companies try to design their workspaces to increase employee communication and productivity. (Image courtesy of Frank Duffy, DEGW. Used with permission.)

Course Highlights

The thorough set of lecture notes use many pictures and diagrams to explain the use of architectural design in business. The presentations by professors, architects, and managers are supplemented by suggested readings.

Course Description

While no businesses succeed based on their architecture or space design, many fail as a result of inattention to the power of spatial relationships. This course demonstrates through live case studies with managers and architects the value of strategic space planning and decision making in relation to business needs. The course presents conceptual frameworks for thinking about architecture, communication and organizations.

This course is offered during the Sloan Innovation Period (SIP), which is a one-week period at the MIT Sloan School of Management that occurs midway through each semester.


This course is about using space strategically in relation to business needs. While no businesses succeed based on their architecture or space design, many fail as a result of inattention to the power of spatial relationships. The course demonstrates through live case studies with managers and architects the value of strategic space planning and decision making. We will explore the organizational self-evaluation necessary to know what you need or want from your space. The course presents conceptual frameworks for thinking about architecture, communication and organizations. We will present examples of success and failures. Thought leaders from industry and academia will introduce the latest ideas in this field.



Required Reading

None. For suggested readings, see the readings page.

Faculty Bios

Thomas J Allen, Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Thomas J. Allen is former Deputy Dean of MIT's Sloan School of Management and Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management. In 1993, he was awarded the Mac Vicar Fellowship at MIT, for teaching excellence. He is Co-director of the Program on the Pharmaceutical Industry, and Codirector of the Lean Aircraft Initiative. Professor Allen is a specialist in organizational psychology and management. He has studied the interaction of organizational structure and behavior and was the first to recognize the role of technological gatekeepers in technology transfer. His research also covers the influence of architectural layout on human communications behavior, international technology transfer, reward systems for technical professionals, the impact of organizational structure on technical performance and the problem-solving process in research. He holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Upsala College, a S.M. degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from MIT, as well as a Ph.D. in Management from MIT. He holds four honoris causa doctorates from European Universities.

M. Diane Burton

M. Diane Burton, the Michael M. Koerner '49 Career Development Assistant Professor of Management at the Sloan School of Management at MIT. She is affiliated with the Entrepreneurship Center and the Institute for Work and Employment Research and teaches two MBA courses, "Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization" and "Strategic Human Resource Management."

Professor Burton studies employment relations and organizational change primarily in entrepreneurial companies. Her current major research project is a study of innovation in the cardiovascular medical device industry. She is also studying the careers of technology entrepreneurs and executives. She recently completed a large-scale study of 175 high-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. She has published articles in a variety of academic journals including the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organizations.

Prior to joining Sloan, Professor Burton was on the faculty at the Harvard Business School where taught the required MBA course, "Leadership and Organizational Behavior." She developed several case studies, including a best-selling series on the 360-degree performance appraisal process at Morgan Stanley. Before moving to the Boston area, Professor Burton served as a lecturer and researcher in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Professor Burton is a member of the Academy of Management, the American Sociological association, and the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science and serves as an ad hoc reviewer for a variety of professional publications.

A native of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Professor Burton earned her undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University, an M.Ed. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education and an A.M. and Ph.D. from the sociology department at Stanford University. Before beginning her career in research in teaching, Professor Burton worked in information technology and educational computing at Carnegie Mellon, Harvard Law School, and Northeastern University and spent several years consulting for the higher education marketing division of Apple Computer. She currently resides in Belmont, MA with her two daughters.

Federico Casalegno, Ph.D.

A visiting researcher at the MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Federico Casalegno is a social scientist with interest on the impact of networked digital technologies in human behavior and societies. He carries out advanced research focusing on new media environments, wireless networked media, interactive communication dynamics and connected communities.

Francis Duffy

Francis Duffy is a Founder of the international architectural practice DEGW, and has seconded to DEGW North America in New York. Francis is currently a visiting Professor at MIT. He was formerly president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He is one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of office design. His ideas were pivotal in the analysis of office design during the 1980s, with its far-reaching effect on the specification of office buildings. His predictions, considered revolutionary then, are now accepted fact.

Gunter Henn

Gunter Henn was born in 1947 in Dresden, Germany. He studied architecture and engineering in Munich, Berlin, and Zurich. He earned his doctorate at the Technical University, Munich. Since 1978, he has his own offices, HENN Architekten, in Munich and Berlin. He is currently a visiting professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor at the Technical University in Dresden. He has been responsible for many innovative building designs, including the BMW Research and Innovation Centre, the Automobile City in Wolfsburg for Volkswagen, as well as the Transparent Factory in Dresden, a novel auto-assembly plant for Skoda in the Czech Republic and the Faculty for Mechanical Engineering for the Technical University in Munich.

Cameron Roberts

Cameron Roberts is Vice President for Program Management and Director of Business Development for Ganteaume & McMullen, a multidisciplinary architecture and engineering firm in Boston, serving the life science, research, manufacturing, institutional and technology sectors.

Mr. Roberts has held academic appointments at Harvard University MIT, RISD, and the University of Miami, and has been associated with such design firms as Frank O. Gehry and Associates, TAMS, Arquitectonica, Aragon Architects, and the Project for Public Spaces. Mr. Roberts' focus is on cultural and civic design, and on design of the workplace. From 1995 to 2000 Mr. Roberts was an investment advisor at Salomon Smith Barney and later a portfolio manager specializing in international investment and global asset allocation. Mr. Roberts holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon. He is active in professional and public service and is an avid hockey player.

Charles W. Slife, Ph.D., Vice President, Gillette Advanced Technologies and Gillette Environment, Health, and Safety

Dr. Charles Slife is Vice President, Gillette Advanced Technologies and Gillette Environment, Health and Safety. This organization includes two corporate laboratories, Gillette Advanced Technology Center, US and Gillette Advanced Technology Centre, UK, as well as the corporate environment, health and safety organization. The corporate laboratories are responsible for conducting research and developing new product concepts in hair removal, including wet and dry shaving, portable power, manual and powered toothbrushes, advanced manufacturing processes, and pharmaceutical products. The organization is also responsible for identifying and developing external technical opportunities that can provide future business opportunities for Gillette. The Gillette Environment, Health and Safety organization has global responsibilities for Gillette's environment, health, safety and regulatory activities. Dr. Slife received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He conducted postdoctoral research in the Biology Department at Johns Hopkins University and was an Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine at Emory University. He is active in a number of professional organizations including Industrial Research Institute, Council for Chemical Research, and Corporation Associates; a division of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Slife is married with three daughters and resides in the greater Boston metropolitan area.



Day One
6-9 PM Opening Event
Day Two
8-8:30 AM Group Coffee and Administration
8:30-10:30 AM Strategy and Design: Why Space Matters
10:30-11:30 AM Architecture and Communication
11:30-1 PM Lunch and Opportunity to Visit Office Spaces at MIT and Kendall Square
1-2:30 PM Collective Intelligence and Information Distribution
2:30-4 PM Marketing, Distributed Work and Reinvention
Day Three
8-8:30 AM Coffee
8:30-10 AM Architecture of Knowledge
10-11:30 PM From Consolidation to Innovation
11:30-1 PM Lunch Break
1-2:30 PM Discussion of Case Studies and Emerging Topics
2:30-4 PM Workplace Design: An Evolving Practice   Tell A Friend