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Project Highrise – August 2015 Architect’s Notes

Infrastructure is much more important than architecture.

Rem Koolhaas

Being a good builder and manager in Project Highrise will involve a lot of infrastructure construction and management. You’ll need to plan, build and maintain systems that will support the residents, offices, stores and restaurants that call your building home. These will include physical systems and human systems. Physical systems will include items like wires and pipes and stairs and elevators. We’ll discuss those systems in a future post. Today let’s focus on the human infrastructure of the tower.

First, let’s meet an office tenant. This is a small law firm.


Our friendly lawyer is in his office on the right and his associate is working at her desk on the left. In addition to supplying power to keep the lights on and the data service to keep them connected with the legal world at large, they have several other needs that you, as building manager, will need to keep up with.

From contracts to wills and patents to writs, the legal system kills lots of trees and generates a lot of paperwork. And everyone needs a copy or six. So they’ll need someone to come pick up and drop off stacks of files to copy and fax off to far-flung offices.

Once those documents are copied, they’re not doing much good just sitting at the lawyer’s office. They need to be filed with the proper authorities or sent to other lawyers to do lawyer-y things with them. Materials of this level of import merit proper delivery, not just a stamp and a prayer. So those in the legal profession and other fields dependent on documentation arriving predictably will want a courier service in the building.

In addition to writing, the other thing that occurs at a lawyer’s office is talking. From meetings to depositions, there’s a lot chatter generated within those walls. That creates a lot of parched throats, so our lawyer friends would also like spring water delivered on a regular and timely basis.

Click for a larger view.

In this corner of the tower, from left to right, we’ve got an office supply provider, a courier and a water delivery outfit. The courier is behind her counter waiting for the call that package or letter is ready to be picked up and dispatched to its destination. The other two workers – in the supply store and the water delivery shop – are out on deliveries somewhere else in the building. In fact, here is one of them at a graphic designer’s office after dropping of some fancy pencils:


Just like offices will expect services and infrastructure to support their business activities, residents in your building will also require certain services and amenities. Let’s meet a couple of apartment dwellers:


At a basic level, they’re going to want a place to drop off their trash and do the laundry. In this tower, those have been located in the basement. To the left of the stairwell, there’s also a plumber’s office to take care of leaky faucets and clogged drains.

Click for a larger view.

Each of these services has a limited capacity, so you’ll also have to make certain that you’ve got enough of each kind available. You don’t want to deal with office workers if the catered lunch they ordered fails to arrive in time for a meeting. Likewise, if an apartment resident can’t get their clothes clean or finds a trash room is always full, they will express their discontent. Unhappy tenants are more likely to reconsider renting in your building and move out.

As your tower grows, your tenants will become more sophisticated in their requirements. That’s a fancy way of saying that they’ll be very needy. It will be up to you as the manager of the building to ensure that you can provide the level of service that your tenants will expect.