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How to Build a Business: Lessons from Architectural History

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As an architect consulting to building product manufacturers, I often draw upon the rich legacy of architectural history for inspiration.

For example, when faced with a large, complex, and daunting project, such as launching a new building product, I remember Daniel Burnham (b. 1846 – d. 1912), an architect responsible for some of the first skyscrapers, major projects like the World's Columbian Exposition, and the planning document that played a major role in shaping Chicago.

Befitting his large and ambitious projects, he is remembered for his exhortation:

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably  will not themselves be realized."

An earlier exponent of this philosophy was Abbot Suger, who initiated the 12th Century rebuilding of the great Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, in France, one of the first great Gothic buildings. He dared dream on a scale beyond his means to realize.


After the west facade and narthex was constructed, he skipped the nave that runs most of the length of the building, and moved on to the construction of the chancel at the eastern end of the projected building.

There was a considerable distance between the two ends, and the infill construction was not completed for another hundred years. Yet he had the vision that inspired the project, and has continued to inspire worshipers for over eight hundred years.

While building a business requires attention to a myriad of small details, it is the big audacious goal is also essential to the success of an enterprise. 

by Michael Chusid, 2010

Published with permission of Building ProductMarketing

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