Lecture offers unique view of top design firm, 3D/I

23rd Rowlett Lecture examines firm's evolution through successes, failures

A unique glimpse into the history of one of the nation's leading design and construction firms, 3D/International, was presented last February at the 2003 Rowlett Lecture at Texas A&M. The annual event, the 23rd since the Rowlett Lecture Series was established in 1979, is sponsored by A&M's College of Architecture.

"Many firms succeed or fail by accident, but the best companies manage to steer the direction of their firm, navigating around obstacles and seeking out opportunities," said Robert Johnson, architecture professor and director of the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry at Texas A&M. "This lecture provided a unique opportunity to learn about the successes and failures of 3D/I from an insider's point-of-view."

The lecture, "3D/I: The Pain and Pride of Change," featured 3D/I representatives leading candid discussions about the company's failures and successes. Held at the Bush Presidential Conference Center on the A&M campus, the event attracted over 400 participants including students, faculty, architectural professionals and others anxious to gain insight into the business and management strategies that have made 3D/I a world-renown company.

"It is especially appropriate that this year's Rowlett Lecture featured 3D/I, as the year 2003 marks the semicentennial anniversary of our firm," said Chuck Thomsen, 3D/I chairman.

The lecture featured a special presentation, "The Rebuilding of the Pentagon," plus three 40-minute panel discussions in which past, present and future leaders of 3D/I focused on how service demands have shaped the company and the careers of its employees. The panel topics included:
  • What "no limits" and "ICED PIG" ideas mean to 3D/I employees;
  • Why 3D/I has adopted a planning process called "strategic chatting;"
  • How change has influenced careers;
  • Why being a "wired" company is important to success;
  • Why the company has succeeded or failed in many of their professional initiatives; and
  • What 3D/I envisions for the future of the design and construction industry and how this may affect students.
The next Rowlett Lecture, scheduled February 6, 2004, will feature RTKL, a global, multifaceted urban design and architecture firm. Tentatively titled "RTKL: The Pursuit of Great Projects," the lecture will explore the company's history, philosophy and plans for the future as they reach for the simple but audacious goal to be a viable contender for any major architectural project in the world.

Registration information is available through the CRS Center at (979) 847-9357.

The John Miles Rowlett Lecture Series was endowed in 1979 through a grant to the Texas Architectural Foundation from the founders of CRS, the former Texas architecture firm once counted among the nation's leading design companies, and Mrs. Virginia Rowlett, wife of one of the original CRS founders. The goal of the lecture series is to bring speakers of national and international significance to the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. The original firm of CRS was established in 1946 by William W. Caudill and John M. Rowlett, professors of architecture at Texas A&M University. Caudill, FAIA, was awarded the prestigious AIA Gold Medal posthumously in 1985.

The CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry was founded by CRSS, a later incarnation of CRS, and Texas A&M to advance the study of leadership and management in the design and construction industry. The center contains the business archives, oral history, and architectural and publication libraries of the architecture and engineering firm of CRS. The center also manages the Rowlett Lecture Series, sponsors the annual CRS Archive Scholar Award, conducts research in leadership and management, and administers the graduate certificate program in facility management. The CRS Center can be found on the Web at http://crscenter.tamu.edu.

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