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Showing posts from October, 2014

How Product Diversity and Cost-Cutting is Killing MacDonald's, and Possibly Your Business

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Wow, I'm falling further and further behind on my wood-related blog posts every week, as I scramble to cover too many bases, and more and more of you send me great ideas to cover. Keep the suggestions coming in, I'll get caught up sooner or later.

But today, I'm going to divert off wood specifically to talk about the weird trends in our economy, and how I believe the signals are being misread by so many. In the news yesterday was McDonald's quarterly report revealing that their profits are off by 30% from the same time last year, on a 3% drop in sales. Watch the whole video below, the reporters' comments tell a lot about the companies issues.




As they mention, increasing raw material (food) and labor costs are hurting...but the meat of the story (sorry) is in the comment..."Is their food real?"

Sad to say, Mickey D's management hasn't realized their food quality problem, as they've been busy expanding their menu and tearing down old kid-friendl…

Great Designs in Wood (60) - "Harmonie Hall"

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Here's a well-named building in Kobe, Japan, that demonstrates another fundamental truth about building with wood...that wood makes every other building material look better through association.


"The Kobe International Junior High School and Senior High School Harmonie Hall was based on an idea of a clear and open axial plan utilising concrete and wood to respond to the campus' history while creating a new relationship with the natural landscape. Harmonie Hall is an ancillary facility that includes a teacher's room, storage, toilets, and a gymnasium that can be used as both a basketball court and an auditorium.This building is designed to capture the most from the rich surrounding environment while inheriting the formal language of the campus as it exists today. Functionally, gyms tend to be enclosed spaces removed from their surrounding environment, but this time, by utilising a wood structural frame, the building is in concert with the vibrant local environment as mu…

Great Designs in Wood (59) - "Treet"

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Aasmund B. wrote from Norway yesterday to confirm that yes, they are indeed proud of the heritage evoked by their "stavkirkes". But he also wanted the world to know that the Norwegians are taking the lead in modern wood construction by building a 14-story wooden building, called "Treet", in Bergen.

Thanks again to the excellent efforts of folks at reThinkWood, we have a video that tells us about the Bergen project, including great design and project justification detail. Naturally, as this is a Scandinavian project, this is not for bragging rights...the project is all about function, efficiency, and stewardship of the earth. As it should be.




In an interesting twist of history, the Battle of Bergen in 1181, the time of  construction of the famous stavkirkes, helped establish Bergen as one of the major centers of trade in Northern Europe in the 13th century. This interesting battle was between a group called the "Birkebeiners" (meaning "birch leg-ers&q…

Great Designs in Wood (58) - The Stavkirke

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Another of the seemingly endless testimonies of wood as the greatest of building materials is the stavkirke, or stave church. These ancient buildings of worship were built centuries ago and stand today as testaments to the wisdom and skill of their builders.

The stavkirke in Urnes, Norway is the oldest, built in 1130...just about the time the Chinese were building the Sakyamuni Pagoda that we looked at in GDiW(11).



The largest is in Heddal, Norway, and was built about a hundred years after the smaller church in Urnes.



To those who think that "saving trees" by discouraging the use of wood in buildings and other products is the way to save the planet, consider how long the carbon in those church logs has been sequestered...centuries longer than all the other 12-century trees in that region, which have died and returned their carbon to the atmosphere.

And besides saving the planet, these old wooden churches probably helped saved a few souls as well. Not a bad return on investm…

Great Designs in Wood (57) - The L'Aquila Earthquake Recovery Project

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On April 6, 2009, a major earthquake rocked the ancient town of L'Aquila, Italy.
"The earthquake caused damage to between 3,000 and 11,000 buildings in the medieval city of L'Aquila. Several buildings also collapsed. Two hundred and ninety-seven people died in the earthquake, including six Macedonians, two Czechs, five Romanian citizens, two Palestinians, one Greek citizen, one French citizen, one Ukrainian citizen and one Israeli citizen, and approximately 1,500 people were injured. Twenty of the victims were children. Around 65,000 people were rendered homeless.The main earthquake was preceded by two smaller earthquakes the previous day. The earthquake was felt as far away as Rome (92 kilometres (57 mi) away), in other parts of Lazio, as well as Marche, Molise, Umbria and Campania. Schools remained closed in the Abruzzo region. Most of the inhabitants of L'Aquila abandoned their homes and the city itself; in the city centre of L'Aquila, and the nearby village of…