TZL 1400 (web)


lies in bringing people together from different professional and personal backgrounds in an inclusive process that ultimately leads to better design and better outcomes. So, our new brand was designed to embody this value proposition. Our previous visual identity, which we had for several decades, featured an orange logo with supporting black, white, and gray colors. We sometimes internally referred to our logo as “Sasaki in the box” because the firm’s name was contained within a rectangle, except for the dot over the “i” which was meant to represent “thinking outside the box.” It felt staid and out of sync with the Sasaki that had emerged in recent years; and as a result, many of our communications and marketing materials read as incohesive because we kept trying to spice our branding up in our own ways. You can imagine what a hodgepodge of branding that “creativity” led to! These days, when you see a Sasaki branded piece – whether a marketing proposal, our new website launched in early 2020, GIFs on social media, signs, or environmental graphics – they are colorful and distinct, but you immediately understand them to be part of one flexible branded system. Once we got used to this branding we didn’t look back. The brand has continued to evolve with us and I don’t foresee us outgrowing it for many years to come. TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? JM: Like a lot of other companies, we had a telecommuting policy in place before the pandemic. And, also like most other companies, few took advantage of it. Historically, there’s been a stigma attached to remote work – call it “out of sight, out of mind” – that may not have been intentional, but definitely influenced people’s decisions about whether or not to work remotely. The pandemic obviously shifted that since we were all forced into a lengthy work-from- home experiment that proved to everyone that remote work is not only viable, but productive. As we’ve learned, when we’re all working remotely the stigma has vanished and it’s a level playing field. Without all the travel that typically goes with our work, we’ve found that team leaders have actually had more time to engage directly with project work and with their teams. Even though we would prefer to do this in person, people are actually getting more “face time” than they were before the pandemic. Also, teams are getting more opportunities to engage with

clients because there is no cost to adding another box on the Zoom screen, whereas before we were forced to limit the number of team members that had client interaction based on the cost of travel for in-person meetings. So, in those two ways, teams have actually been more engaged even though we are all working apart from one another. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will be adopting a hybrid work model, allowing everyone to work remotely for up to two days a week, and three days in-person. We’re making significant investments in our new office space to enable the kinds of collaboration that can’t happen remotely, and I think people are really hungry for that while also wanting to maintain some of the flexibility that remote work has afforded. With that in mind, our office will look very different than it did before the pandemic – if we can successfully work remotely for focused, “heads down” work, then our office needs to provide space to do just the opposite. Our new space will be all about collaboration and interaction between people. That will mean fewer desks (and especially desks that are assigned to only one person), and an array of different types of open work areas, conference rooms, pinup spaces, and areas for fabrication and prototyping. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? JM: Trust is absolutely essential – and not only does it have to be earned, but it takes time to both establish and maintain. With clients, I believe that we establish trust by first being curious, and by being active listeners. If there is one trait that tends to come to mind most often when people think of designers, its ego – and ego is not going to win anyone trust. Instead, we focus on listening and working together with our clients to solve complex problems. At Sasaki, collaboration has always been part of our ethos, and our leadership has really embraced that in a way that leads not only to more inclusive design, but better design. That’s the genesis of our renewed mission statement that we adopted a couple of years ago: “Better design, together.” Trust has to exist within an organization, not just with clients. The efforts we’ve undertaken over the past year, particularly around gender equity and anti-racism, have exposed gaps in trust that we needed to first understand, and then bridge. That is something we’re still working on, and it has required being more vulnerable and empathetic as a leader. See ENGAGE, EMPATHIZE, EMPOWER, page 8





❚ ❚ Boston, MA

❚ ❚ Denver, CO

❚ ❚ Shanghai, China


❚ ❚ Architecture

❚ ❚ Interior design

❚ ❚ Planning and urban design

❚ ❚ Space planning

❚ ❚ Landscape architecture

❚ ❚ Civil engineering


❚ ❚ Education

❚ ❚ Civics

❚ ❚ Arts and culture

❚ ❚ Commercial development

❚ ❚ Corporate and office

❚ ❚ Sports and recreation


design, together.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

LY 19, 2021, ISSUE 1400

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