TZL 1361 (web)


TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? BC: From my perspective, global uncertainty has generally shortened the visible horizon on what comes next, but I have also grown more confident that clients appreciate our focus on high- quality service and will continue to seek us out and give us repeat assignments. “I try to lead by example, work hard alongside my team, show them respect and help them see opportunities to grow and bring unique value to our work.” TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? BC: They are the reason I do what I do and why I am able to do it. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients? BC: Trust is something you build over time. We build trust by answering clients’ calls at any time, by taking steps to make sure they know their needs are at the top of our list of priorities, and by consistently delivering reliable and useful information on time. TZL: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are potential disruptors across all industries. Is your firm exploring how to incorporate these technologies into providing improved services for clients? BC: Yes. Our work, both design and forensic, is about matching known patterns of behavior – be they behaviors of materials, assemblies, or humans – with conditions that are desired or exist at a project site. For example, a developer may try to maximize the amount of usable space he can build on a site with a height restriction and soil contamination. A computer program might synthesize those two criteria and find floor framing configurations that may have a higher unit cost, but are shallow and light enough to minimize the height per story and the degree to which we need to disturb the contaminated soil. The key is knowing with clarity and precision what is most valuable and then using computational tools to find it. In a forensic investigation,

we might write or use software to recognize certain failure patterns that suggest the origin of a collapse or to highlight anomalies in project records that help the investigator winnow the list of likely causes. We have a research and development group that is very adept at figuring out what we as designers and investigators value and at building custom software to seek it out. TZL: Where would you like to see LERA in five years? BC: I would like to see us continue to grow as a group of a dozen or so complimentary and collaborative studios, each practicing at the top of its sector; and I would like to see us continue to do meaningful, high- quality work and serve clients in ways that make us indispensable. In addition, I would like LERA to be better known for the breadth of our work. We have long been known for being at the forefront of tall building design, but our expertise is so much broader. We’re also acknowledged as one of the leading engineering firms in the world for projects that include great civic and public projects, cultural facilities, healthcare buildings and laboratories, and forensic investigations. “A firm like LERA thrives when we have people with a number of different perspectives and strengths, but similar values, working together to accomplish a clear mission.”

HEADQUARTERS: New York City NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 140 YEAR FOUNDED: 1923 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ❚ ❚ New York City ❚ ❚ Shanghai ❚ ❚ Mumbai ❚ ❚ Hong Kong SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Forensic engineering ❚ ❚ Peer review ❚ ❚ Design ❚ ❚ Adaptive reuse/renovation ❚ ❚ Historic preservation ❚ ❚ Special inspections ❚ ❚ Façade inspection safety program ❚ ❚ Expert witness and litigation ❚ ❚ Arts consultations ❚ ❚ BIM and computational design ❚ ❚ Technology consulting MARKET SECTORS: ❚ ❚ Mixed use – towers and office buildings ❚ ❚ Mixed use – residences and hotels ❚ ❚ Museums and cultural facilities ❚ ❚ Academic and healthcare facilities ❚ ❚ Renovations and retail spaces ❚ ❚ Convention centers and public facilities ❚ ❚ Transportation and sports facilities ❚ ❚ Special structures

TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be?

BC: I try to lead by example, work hard alongside my team, show them respect and help them see opportunities to grow and bring unique value to our work. As an approach, it has its challenges, but I think it has contributed to the development of a motivated, high-performing team and excellent service to our clients. TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge, but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. BC: I value the fresh approaches and energy that our younger staff bring to their work, and I value the hard-won


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EMBER 28, 2020, ISSUE 1361

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