A Story...
25 Years of Design • Build • Use
A Presentation @ the San Francisco Institute of Architecture
April 13, 2000 • Part 2 of 3 • link: Part One

Orlando Management Center

Orlando, Florida
The OMC was one of our first complete environments in which we designed everything. It was a 6,000 square foot facility that performed a number of integrated functions for a financial services practice we designed at Acacia.
It provided regional administration, corporate and client planning services, sales and training areas. It included a bank, insurance company and brokerage firm that functioned as an integrated service provider to middle income and small business markets. The facility was used, first, for facilitating individual and small business planning and then for helping with the financial implementation of these plans.
This planning and design work included, personal work, corporate strategy and action plans all they way to the financial details. Post design, all the instruments of execution could be completed for the client out of this one facility.
In 1990, MG Taylor took over the OMC and operated it as a Management Center in support of the general Orlando area. Among other things, we worked with Disney, the City of Orlando and the Bush Administration on the “City of Light” program.
The OMC is still in operation today. It has been in continuous use with little maintenance or revision for 15 years. This is so even though it has been used by three different organizations with very different business models and needs. What has remained constant is the underlying way of working. This armature and the adaptability built into the space has allowed it to be “perfect” in support of many different specific business processes.
It was an expensive environment for its day, however, it has stayed in operation through three lease cycles making the cost of the build-out far lower than the usual “cheap” construction that is typically replaced every 5 years. The OMC has enjoyed a different life-cycle economics than the all-to-typical office build-out.
It is now being used by the original owner-landlord in support of his complex real estate development and investment operation.
With the OMC, we established our essential Trade Dress and signature. The work was 100% custom and took nearly 9 months to design and build.
Today, we can replicate this kind of facility in a fraction of the time and at far less cost. In addition, more than 85% of the environment can be carried out the door and used someplace else - it is not built in place. This creates an entirely different risk profile and provides an order of magnitude more freedom for the owner and operator of the facility.
R u l e s :
Build with quality. Today, there is great pressure to cut construction costs with sloppy detailing and poor materials. resist this. It is fool’s gold.
Build flexibility and quality in and make the case for life-cycle economics. Good stuff lasts and people want it. It is is designed right, with flexibility built in, there is no reason to tear things down over and over every time a user or user requirement changes.
Make a strong presence. Create place. People require identity in their environment - but not egotist pyrotechnics for no reason.
Provide Pattern Language values so that people are truly comfortable in the environment.
Use a simple palette well. Let variety be intrinsic: spaces, light, views, geometry - not bought on the cheep with an outrage of different colors and treatments.
C o n c l u s i o n :
This environment achieved a great amount of flexibility with mostly build-in, fixed components. In the years to follow we explored flexibility via making almost every component a rolling one. The ideal is a balance between these two strategies. Which component can be fixed and which adjustable (folding/swinging. etc.) and which must roll, slide, dissemble and move is an important design discrimination in any project.
T e a m :
Jim Toohey
Sponsor Matt Taylor
Design Team Jim Toohey, Matt Taylor, Bill Blackburn
User/Owner Acacia Mutual Life
Architect Jim Toohey
System Early prototypes of AI (then Iris) WorkWalls and WorkFurniture
Location Orlando, Florida
Year 1985

1988 - CAMELOT

Hilton Head SC

CAMELOT has been our lab since 1988. She is a 22 ton teak-planked, bronze-fastened, gaff-rigged, cutter-ketch.
We have completely restored and reconfigured the boat over the last 12 years. It has been an exercise of design, build, use - as well as - an intensive practice of collaboration over an extended period of time.
CAMELOT is both a working environment and a home. She exemplifies craftsmanship and great utility. Feedback is fast on CAMELOT so what works - and does not - can be learned quickly. Bad design decisions with a boat can be dangerous - not just expensive and ugly. High levels of integration between mechanical systems, arrangement and esthetics are required because of both the small size of the boat (given the many functions provided) and the dynamic medium in which she lives.
The process is never finished with CAMELOT. She is in a constant state of evolution. Here architecture is continuous and dynamic. How-to-maintain is an essential design feature - and critical to both comfort and survival.
R u l e s :
Look outside of your field for inspiration and learning. I never expected to learn more architecture from CAMELOT than from any other project - but I did.
Find an environment - where the scope is such - that you can economically experience and test a whole system of design-build-use - don’t design-develop in the abstract. Rapid prototyping is the key. I call CAMELOT Architecture on a doable scale. This allows you to get down to the intimate details.
Integrate craft and industrial processes into your works. Each is special - and different. Both can be compatible. Both are necessary.
Really learn the technical systems integration. A boat forces you to do this. In land-based structures it is too easy to avoid making the technology work well. Building systems are far less developed than in airplanes, automobiles and boats - in fact, building standards are dismal. Learn from the more advanced systems to get a sense of what is possible - and necessary.
T e a m :
Angelman and Davies 1960
Sponsor Gail Taylor, Matt Taylor (from 1988)
Design Team Armour Price, Matt Taylor, Gail Taylor Pam Price, Bill Lacker
User/Owner Camelot Excursions
Architect Joe Angelman 1960, Armour Price 1994
Builder American Marine 1960, Huckens Boat Yard 1989, Armour Price 1994 to present
PM Gail Taylor 1988 - 1994; Armour Price 1994 to present
System n/a
Location Florida
Year 1988 to present

Pod and Cube Office Systems

Lousville KY

This is my first sketch showing the Pod and Cube Office systems. It demonstrated that the same density accomplished by the typical office cubicle system could be achieved in a much more open, flexible space that also provided collaborative areas.
With the exception of the structural columns, this entire space can be reconfigured by the user in a brief period of time. It is set up into work-neighborhoods and team-clusters. Worker “own” their Pod - customize it over time - and take it with them when they join a new team.
These two systems - which took another 6 years to get into production - provide greater amenity for the knowledge-worker, more space and work surface per individual, accomplish over a 100 of Alexander’s Pattern Language values and facilitate modern work in its many forms. All this is possible with a manufactured product and a radically reduced design-build time.
And, it adds up to a far more interesting and human environment than what is found in office building after office building going up today.
R u l e s :

Stick to it. The Pod took many years before someone wanted it built. Even then, it has taken 4 years for the 12 units that are in place to start to gain acceptance. We still do not have the production versions ready but will soon. The total time: 10 years. Be prepared for this.

Also, know that you cannot do it all the first time. The first Pods fell short of our expectations in some areas. However, we built them, fixed them and used them as the experience base to design the next generation. The production versions will roll as-a-unit, have 50% fewer pieces and cost far less to tool up. Building and use experience contributes to the design process - and accelerates it.

Negative feedback on an idea or design may be because it is flawed - it also may be because it is outside the present paradigm of the user. You have to use good judgment in how you utilize this feedback. Today, people come into my POD at the Palo Alto KnOwhere Store and say it is just what the “want.” This is a change from just a year ago. However, they are still not buying - yet.

A good design concept has a long shelf life. It is worth the time and investment to get it right.

T e a m :
Matt Taylor 1990, Paul Lyons 1996
Sponsor Matt Taylor
Design Team Paul Lyons, Bill Blackburn, Bryan Ross Matt Taylor
User/Owner AI, KnOwhere, Borgess
Architect n/a
Builder AI
PM Bryan Ross
System Taylor System and Method as executed by AI
Location n/a
Year 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998

Capital Holding Management Center

Lousville KY

In many respects, this is the most complex environment we have ever built.
The “fit” between our work, and the traditional building in which it was set, was accomplished to a degree not achieved by us before or since.It was, also, one of the richest and broadest expression of materials of all our works. Basically, there were two “styles” and material palettes - one that flowed out of the larger building and made the transition to our own space which was a radical departure from the rest. The transition, however, was so gradual that it was not noticed. Indeed, the space that we created led back to the exterior of the building and matched that better than the rest of the building’s interior treatment did.
This process - of coming into the space - allowed an environment in a corporate headquarters to feel like a remote retreat. At the same time, the integrity of the overall building was protected and enhanced.
The basic spaces were outlined by a steel armature that carried all the wiring necessary for audio/video, phone and computers. The WorkWall system could plug in to this armature providing an easy way to quickly reconfigure the space. The steel armature supported a 12 foot wide by 74 foot long KnowkedgeWorker loft that was suspended over the various work areas. Documentation, work products and video editing was done in the loft. The work area shown in the picture (above) is viewed from this loft. This was accomplished in a traditional first floor plan by excavating 4 feet and transforming the area into a much larger volume - on that allowed more density and provided uncommon vertical spaces.
R u l e s :

Do not be a slave to what has come before but do not ignore it either. Integration is not style sensitive. Proportion, materials and interface are much more important than the superficial “look.”

Flexibility requires a combination of fixed and movable elements that each adjust at different time rates. Armature is important. Without it there is no reference point.

Look for the key change (in this case digging down) that radically transforms the opportunity from a mundane one to something truly worthwhile.

T e a m :
Matt Taylor
Sponsor Tom Schnick
Design Team Matt Taylor, Donny Weber, Langdon Morris, Bill Blackburn
User/Owner Agency Group, Capital Holdiing Corporation
Architect Donny Weber
Builder Weber and Weber
PM Tommy Weber and Langdon Morris
System AI WorkWalls and WorkFurniture and technical systems design
Location Louisville, Kentucky
Year 1991-1992

A Home Office

Hilton Head SC
Years and years ago I saw pictures of a development that featured octagonal vacation homes as part of a resort complex. They intrigued me. In 1993, our business was requiring that both Gail and I travel more - at the same time, the municipal docks in St, Augustine where we docked CAMELOT, were being torn out for a total rebuild - a process that was to take up to a couple of years.
We needed a place to keep CAMELOT. This lead us on a fast discovery tour to find a new place to live. We found Hilton Head and the Sea Lofts - the very homes I had seen in a magazine. We bought one and remodeled it, opening the space and developing the building to be a fuller expression of its type.
Through the entire process of building MG Taylor, Gail and I have lived a consistent lifestyle. There have been periods when we were able to take a good income out of the business. There have been years when we were not able to draw any salary at all - instead, we had to put money back in and pay our own business expenses.
Yet, with all of this, we have always been able to live a reasonably comfortable life and have an environment of beauty. It is a matter of careful buying and conservative personal finances. It is also a matter of living in small, compact houses that don't compete in the popular mainstream of housing.
At the time, the Sea Lofts were way under valued on Hilton Head Island. This gave us the opportunity to buy and extensively remodel for very little cost. Living and working in our small environment was economical at a time when the business was small and simple. It provided us a compatible work-lifestyle and a level of amenity that would have been impossible in other circumstances.
R u l e s :

Pay attention to your own environment. Make sure it reflects you and make sure you are getting direct feedback from your own use of your own designs.

You do not always have to build from scratch to get a first class environment. Seek the potential in what is already started. Reuse is as important, architecturally, as building new structures.

Small living and working environments are challenging design problems. You will learn a great deal about the tradeoffs between formal design elements and your own (hidden) informal living and working patterns.

T e a m :
1968 Treetop Homes, 1993 remodel Matt Taylor
Sponsor Gail Taylor and Matt Taylor
Design Team Matt Taylor and gail Taylor
User/Owner Matt and Gail taylor
Architect none
Builder Treetops Homes 1968 - 1993 none
PM Matt Taylor
System n/a
Location Hilton head, SC
Year 1993


throughout USA

In 1995, we developed the ability to take the show on the Road. We designed the RDS (Rapid Deployment System) in 1982 and did a small deployment for the FAA later that year - it took 13 more years to accumulate the WorkFurniture systems and financial resources to field the first unit able to support a 100 person scale DesignShop.
The first deployment was accomplished three weeks after a client requested that we come to their facility. The entire capability was designed, manufactured, set up, used and moved to a second location in less than a month. Since then, more than a hundred deployments have been made in the US, Europe and as far away as Australia.
Today, we can deploy a facility that is little different from a permanent one - in capacity and function and in architectural quality. However, the original intent of the RDS, to bring extraordinary facilitation to a crisis, has not yet been accomplished.
There is always something special about a RDS. A new city. The excitement of setting up a new space and solving the innumerable problems associated with this. Our next step is to develop the ability to ship and set up the entire shell and building support systems as today we can the interior. This was designed in the 70s, however, the system is not yet prototyped due to capital costs and want of a market - both of these conditions are changing.
R u l e s :
Sometimes an idea can be around for a long time - but when it is time to do it, DO IT. Bucky called this “Anticipatory Design Science.” Do the thinking, the experiments, the pre-staging. Keep it in mind as you tool for other work. When the opportunity comes, act.
To solve a problem, many times you have to employ the root idea in the solution of other problems. The full RDS idea is yet to come about, but, the present application of the capability is funding the development of the system necessary to do it.
Always keep moving forward - one step at a time. Often, and idea is proposed or tried, does not “make it” and then discarded. Allowing the memory to fad can be a deadly mistake. Many elements have to convege for an idea or product to catch hold - they are too complex to predict or control. Look for the converging “step functions” that will advance the agenda. Documentation is important.
Today, there is the www. Get that idea out there and start recruiting the energy necessary to bring it about. We have many new tools but many more old habits. Somewhere out there are those that want to do what you want to do - find them!
T e a m :
1984 Concept, Matt Taylor; 1995 implementation, Bill Blackburn
Sponsor Matt Taylor
Design Team Bill Blackburn, Bill Ross, Matt Taylor
User/Owner MG Taylor
Architect n/a
Builder AI
PM Bill Blackburn
System AI WorkWalls and WorkFurniture and technical systems design
Location Mobile
Year 1995 to present
There is more to the Story...
Go to Part 3 of 4 for 1997 through 2000 projects
Return To Index
Matt Taylor
San Francisco
April 13, 2000

SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted: April 13, 2000

revised: Februrary 13, 2003
• 20000413.162817.mt • 20000417.806433.mt •
• 20000425.164951.mt • 20000508.125722.mt •
• 20000514.211689.mt • 20000602.141309.mt •
• 20000611.719262.mt • 20000629.153213.mt •
• 20000715.180584.mt • 20000716.184713.mt •
• 20000719.101221.mt • 20000731.101221.mt •
• 20000923.531426.mt
• 20030213.239800.mt •

(note: this document is about 96% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor 2000, 2003
Aspects of the work shown and described are patented and patent Pending by iterations

IP Statement and Policy



Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase
Sound-alike matching
From: ,
To: ,
Show:   results   summaries
Sort by: