On a recent architectural tour of one of the historical buildings in our city, we saw blueprints and pictures from its 1922 construction. At the time, steel was a revolutionary product and steel construction was met with much skepticism. How could those flimsy frames hold up a whole building? Wouldn’t it fall down in a storm? This particular building was a bank, so the perception of stability and strength was even more important.

To mitigate any negative impacts on its business because of the choice to use the more economical, efficient steel, the architect took several steps to give the appearance of being solid and secure. The bottom portion of the structure was covered with a veneer of solid pillow-top stones that made the building seem as if it was constructed out of large rocks. The upper floors had an outer coating of brick, even though the frame did not rely on that material for its support. Windows were made smaller, as was required in brick structures, even though the steel would have allowed for much greater glass expanses. It worked to assure customers in 1922 and remains a functioning bank today.

Your space is conveying subtle and unconscious signals about your organization. What is it saying? Do you need to take steps to realign your physical presence with your values and intangibles? Do your building and brand align? Or maybe you have moved too far in the direction of efficiency and away from what matters to your clients?

Just because you use steel doesn’t mean your building has to look like it. It may be worth the extra effort and expense to project a solid image for your organization.

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