Another building that I saw on the architectural tour was the Fischer Building – an 8-story structure that was the tallest building in Iowa when it was constructed in 1894. Because of its height, fire safety was a real concern as firetrucks were not yet equipped to reach “skyscrapers”.

As a result, the architects took extra precautions to make the building as fireproof as possible, relying heavily on the use of terra cotta. Not only does this material allow for decorative accents on the outside, but it also serves as a flame retardant. Terra cotta covered the exterior of the building and was used as part of the interior flooring and column coverings.

You may not be in the construction business or have to worry about fire-resistant materials, but everyone can learn from the multi-faceted aspect of the Fischer building’s construction. How are you creating content, services or materials that can serve a dual purpose for your organization? Can you create beauty out of something that needs to be functional? Have you put extra effort into your product so that it endures for almost a century?

I am sure there were cheaper and easier ways for the Fischer’s construction, but fortunately for us, the architect avoided them. Infuse the same pride in whatever you are building today.

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