In an obscure corner of Virginia’s Ft. Belvoir is a secure climate-controlled warehouse filled with the U.S. Army’s accumulated treasure of museum-quality military artifacts. Aisle after aisle of mobile high-density storage cabinets are filled with historic weaponry. Rows of air-tight cabinets contain thousands of uniforms and insignia, antique and modern. Rack after rack of rolling frames support 16,000 works of art, with soldiers’ paintings hanging beside one-of-a-kind Norman Rockwells. The collection is a military history buff’s fantasy, carefully preserved and thoroughly catalogued. And other than its curators, no one ever sees it – because there’s no museum to exhibit these extraordinary artifacts.
A museum is in fact in the works, but today it exists only on paper. The Army Historical Foundation is raising money to build the museum, called The Center of Military History, and they’ve raised $76 million of the $175 million needed to bring the vision into reality. In the meantime, the treasures remain safe – and hidden – in state-of-the-art storage. Read the full story here: http://bzfd.it/1tdRpdL.
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Law firms generate mountains of paper. Clients and courts demand paper documents, and state bar associations set standards for law firms’ document retention. Even when documents are filed electronically, there is almost always a paper copy that has to be accounted for. And paper seems to have a mind of its own; the one document you need is the one that has decided to wander off. However, RFID technology is corralling those pesky wandering papers. A new printer system adds an RFID tag to legal documents, allowing them to be tracked as they move through a law firm’s offices. As described here in RFID Journal [http://bit.ly/1rd6JAU], the system also identifies various levels of confidentiality and keeps a list of documents that have been destroyed when no longer needed. It’s an improvement in security and productivity – law office staff can spend less time looking for documents and more time upholding the scales of justice.
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The prototype of today’s flexible office environment that morphs, as needed, between collaborative and private, actually dates to 1968. Designer Robert Probst developed a modular, reconfigurable workstation in the mid-60’s – a design which became the now-despised office cubicle. Probst’s early cubicles were created as a system of adjustable wall panels, modular storage, and desk surfaces. They were intended to give workers the freedom to customize their space as they desired, with panels that could be angled outward for collaboration, or angled inward for semi-privacy. So why did Probst’s creation become isolating, dehumanizing “cubicle farms?” As explained in “Business Insider,” companies’ cost-cutting measures forced Probst’s flexible design into rigid homogeneous layouts [http://read.bi/Zehw78]. The visionary inventor came to loathe the corruption of his original intent, calling cubicles “rat-mazes.”
Probst died in 2000, but if he were alive today, he’d be amazed by the explosive growth in demand for modular workspaces that can be quickly switched between private and collaborative space. Such companies as Swift Space, with their “Power of One” program for individualizing workplaces, are at the leading edge of this second wave of Probst’s vision. He’d be proud to know he was just a little ahead of his time.
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A recent Public Library Association presentation showed that people want their local library to be more like their local coffeehouse, offering customization, comfort, and amenities. As in coffeehouses, activity “zones” defined by furniture color or style can cue patrons to reading areas or discussion areas. Much like your custom coffee order, furniture can be rearranged to patrons’ liking, and modular, mobile bookcases allow flexible reconfiguration of open spaces. Coffeehouses feature ambient lighting suited to their varied activity areas; libraries too can take advantage of natural light to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. These ten steps from American Libraries Magazine [http://bit.ly/1uhQSqc] will help create a welcoming interior that competes favorably with the neighborhood Starbucks…minus the noisy espresso machine, of course.
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