Julie Mark Cohen
"I gave up a lot to work for you," Lydia Witherspoon said. "You've won award after award in the past thirty years. Now, you tell me that you're in financial trouble?"
Lydia, who was clad in black attire typical of architects but looked more like a librarian than a creative soul, and her boss, Parker Williams, waited in a reception area.
"I'll straighten everything out today. Jake Legrand is the up-and-comer in real estate and I can't lose. He chose me as one of the five finalists to develop his new 40-story high-rise," said Parker. "I appreciate that you wanted to help, but this job is too important to me. It's not child's play."
"Child's play?" she barked. "I saw what you wanted to pitch and offered you suggestions, but you walked away. Why?"
"Keep your voice down. Don't you understand? This proposal isn't for you to sell."
"So, why am I here?"
"To make sure there are no glitches in the PowerPoint presentation," Parker said.
No sooner had
MaryAnn opened an ornately carved oak door, revealing a dozen conservatively-dressed men sitting around an oval table, several punching numbers into calculators, a few reviewing spreadsheets on laptop computers, some slurping coffee.
At the far end of the table, a diminutive man with cordovan-dyed hair sat perched on a booster seat. In a booming baritone voice, he said, "Good afternoon, Mr. Williams. You may start your presentation."
"Thank you for inviting me." Parker slipped his CD to
"This is my concept for your high-rise," Parker said as the first image came up. "Here's a view of the north elevation. The east elevation. The south--"
"Is this some sort of freakin' joke?" Legrand interrupted. "I feel like I’m watching an old television. Everything's in 2-D, flat as a pancake, and in black-and-white." Jumping off of his chair, he bellowed, "What gives? I thought that you were one of the best? What the--"
"Mr. Legrand. I'm Lydia Witherspoon, an associate partner at Parker Williams Architects. Please forgive me. I must've pulled out the wrong disc. That was an early draft of our final design. My apologies."
Parker stared quizzically at
"Ah, here we go. Gentleman, this first slide is a 3-D perspective view from the southwest showing the main entrance at the corner of
His eyes widening with interest, Legrand quickly settled back into his high chair.
"First, we'll take a 3-D tour of our design. We'll start by viewing the cityscape with our proposed building as we'd see from an airplane and continue getting closer until we finish with views at ground level."
For fifteen minutes, the room was silent as
"Much better. Significantly better! Damn. This, by far, is the best presentation that I've seen today. Stellar!"
During the next fifteen minutes of
"Gentlemen. In these packets, you'll find our projected budget which boils down to $304 per square foot."
"Th-that's below my figure. How did you...?" Parker muttered under his breath in
"Now, that was certainly impressive," Legrand said. "What an original design! The building geometry is unique and symbolic. I love it! The interspersing of granite, metal, and glass on the façade is exquisite. The expression of structural framing is striking, unparalleled. And, your budget is very well thought out with more than enough detail. Excellent presentation."
Legrand pushed a button on his table phone. "MaryAnn, please escort Ms. Witherspoon and Mr. Williams upstairs to the conference room where the others are waiting.
~ ~ ~
Parker's competitors, all male, jittered about, yakking to anyone who would listen.
Parker observed, exuding the quiet confidence of a seasoned, successful professional.
Legrand made his appearance, with his bean-counting entourage in tow. In anticipation, the architects moved toward him.
"Parker Williams Architects exceeded our design goals," said Legrand. "Definitely award caliber."
Parker puffed out his chest.
"However, I've selected Edward Donaldson and Sons, because their budget at $268 per square foot is the lowest."
~ ~ ~
Five months passed.
"And...?" Parker asked.
"We got the Frier-Goode high-rise in
"Today's competition is too tough for an old coot like me. While you were away, my creditors clamped down on me. I had to lay off some folks."
"I knew you'd be successful. You've already found one large client who will pay for quality. You can build this business back up. Congratulations and good luck," Parker said, handing
Julie Mark Cohen, PhD, PE, SECB, is a Consulting Structural and Forensic Engineer who practices in
MOTIVATION: This was the result of a 24 hour writing contest!
Graphic by:Ervin Bacik