The Measure of Influence

2013 marks the 35th year of CEO and Design Director, Steve McDowell’s tenure at BNIM. During these 35 years 596 people have journeyed through this institution, crossing paths with Steve. Only something made by hand seemed to match the magnitude of Steve’s caring influence and allow us the opportunity to demonstrate the care and craft that he has shown to each person who crossed his path.

First, data was gathered through Deltek Vision, which included the full name of current and past BNIMers and the duration of employment at BNIM (start, end date or current employee). The results of this data were broken into intervals of 5 years. Each five-year stint was represented by 1” of a square peg — 5 years as 1”, 10 years as 2”, 15 years as 3” up to 35 years as 8”. Square pegs of a corresponding length were inscribed with the name of each person and arranged in random order.

A concrete base was molded to hold the 596 pegs using mere compression, representing that together we stand as a community of designers —singular yet one — reliant on each other to stay relevant and strong.

His influence is depicted visually through an information model. To represent Steve, a single large dowel equal to 4 peg spaces in cross-section was placed in the arrangement. A 2” concrete base 36” long and 8” wide (with 30” x 5” inset space for the pegs) holds 596 walnut pegs that are .5” x .5” in dimension. 60 rows by 10 columns allow 600 peg spaces.

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Step One: Stripped from 6" x .5" x 80" walnut planks, the rods were planed then sawn to ensure consistency in the square dimension and a precise fit once placed into the base.

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Step Two: Relative to the five-year interval, the rods were cut to respective lengths.

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Step Three: Each square peg, unique in character and crafted of tactile walnut, is notched at the top for easy pick up, viewing and reinsertion. To finalize the woodworking process each piece was sanded in preparation for the inscription of names.

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Step Four: The names are laser etched on one side in Helvetica Neue Medium 7 pt and each rod is finished with teak oil.

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Step Five: Formwork for the base was constructed and the lightweight concrete was poured and left to set.

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Step Six: The pegs are arranged in random order to represent the unique viewpoint of each individual and they face both axes to create an intricate pattern.

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Design Concept/Development - Beena Ramaswami; Construction - Branden Vissat, Josh Boehm, Beena Ramaswami; Photographs/Diagrams - Branden Vissat