Some people walk by a construction project like the El Moore and wonder “What’s inside the building?” When I walk by I always wonder “What’s inside the people? Ever since I can remember I have always been fascinated with the people behind the scenes of great works such as the El Moore Project. I, like you (I am assuming or you would not be reading this) appreciate the beauty of the building and am looking forward to experiencing the final result. However, I find myself curious about the experience of those who have been working on this long before there was a website/blog, etc. I want to know about the people who are helping to transition this building. What have they learned? What do they hope others will take from the El Moore? How did they even come to be involved with such work? My questions really could go on and on, but worry not, I was able to narrow it down to 5 simple questions I hope will offer you (and me) some insight into thoughts and motivations of those most intimately involved with the project. First up – Jason Peet!
Jason came to the construction world by way of pharmaceutical sales — intrigued? Jason explains: “I would start dreading going back to work starting Friday evening – thinking only two more days and I have to go back. I felt so isolated in that job – I was always alone in my car driving from appointment to appointment. The money was good but I was unsatisfied with the job. I have learned through my relationships here that you will never get your best out of people if they are not doing what they love to do – our only rule at the Green Garage – you must do what you love.”
Jason’s primary responsibility on the El Moore Project is the acquisition and research of the materials for the project. You will be happy to know that Jason now loves not just his job but the emphasis on the relationships being built in the process of carrying out his work.
1. What has been your favorite El Moore memory thus far?
“Well, there are many, but I have to say that the moving of the water tower from Wayne State to the site is something I will never forget. Seeing these huge cranes lift this massive structure, closing off streets, then moving it down these narrow streets, and seeing all the people out watching – it was exciting!”
2. What have been some of the challenges with the El Moore?
“The condition of the El Moore when we got it limited what we could do with the space in some ways. It was a lot more limiting than, say, a space like the Green Garage. The layout of the building itself was very challenging – it’s a narrow building and it had been chopped up several times. Our designers did an amazing job efficiently maximizing the space while maintaining great aesthetics. Also, we had to solve the revenue challenge due to the small number of rental units (12) we were able to fit in the space. In keeping with our commitment to maintaining a triple bottom line we had to make sure the building was economically viable. Adding the ten short-term stay units served to not only help our financial margins but also our community margins by providing a space where visitors to the neighborhood can build relationships with people who actually live in the community. The smaller scale of the building and the shared community spaces will naturally encourage relationships.”
3. What would be your advice to anyone who wishes to take on such a project consisting of rehab and reuse of materials etc. in an effort to be more sustainable?
“There are a lot of materials surrounding us that have the potential for reuse but successful reuse can often take a lot more energy verses buying pre-fashioned materials off the rack. At the same time, the relationships that are built within the community (it takes many conversations to do this type of work successfully) and the opportunity to play an active role in the continuation of local history and culture – this is where the value is immeasurable.”
4. How else would you hope that the El Moore can make a contribution to the community?
“By doing small projects like the El Moore and the Green Garage in a way where the experience is shared with the community at large we hope that people will continue to learn from them and apply to other projects whatever fits for them. This way we will continue to encourage sustainable building and living in the long term.”
5. What is your favorite feature of the building?
“I would have to say in general I love the façade of the building but my favorite feature is the lone bay window that sits just out from the building to the right of the doors.”
There we have it – Jason Peet. – my take aways from our chat:
1. Courage to work within my passion
2. Enjoy the adventure
3. Count the cost -do your research
4. Relationships, relationships, relationships its all about the relationships!
5. Pay attention and appreciate beauty!
Hope you find your own inspiration – until next time – Kimberly 🙂