Aedas, Los Angeles

“With iPhone, I can outfit everyone in the office with a tool that allows me to access their thinking and talent at any time.”

Dan Meis
Managing Director

Creativity through collaboration.

When architect Dan Meis decided to give every employee in his office iPhone, he noticed an immediate difference.

“Because our firm is global—we have offices all over the world, and we’re doing work all over the world—accessibility tends to become a 24/7 issue,” he says. But before his staff had iPhone, he couldn’t always reach them. Some had cell phones; almost nobody had mobile email; and most employees preferred not to be reached after hours.

iPhone is different. “There is something about it that doesn’t make people feel tethered to a desk, yet they’re connected 24/7,” Meis says. “And that connection for me is a huge advantage, because it allows me to leverage myself far beyond what I can do. Now I have 20 people working and not feeling like they’re toiling. And I get instant access to all that talent.”

Working connected

A couple of years ago, fellow architect Michael Sedlacek and Meis merged his MEIS Architects firm with Aedas, a global architectural firm to form Aedas Sport. Together, as they’ve grown, they’ve observed how iPhone has shaped their culture.

At Aedas, designers and architects work in an almost continuous stream of communication, snapping images of designs, models, and construction sites with the camera on iPhone and then sending those photos—along with emails, text messages, and documents—around the office. It’s a highly collaborative process, enabled by iPhone.

“Once you get a new employee an iPhone, they are in,” Sedlacek says. “They’re connected.” And that connection has spiked productivity—by as much as 400%, Meis estimates. Now, every new hire at Aedas’s L.A. office is outfitted with iPhone. “We couldn’t imagine letting people work without it,” Meis says. “Because that would mean they weren’t connected to us. And ultimately, that would cost the business money, far more than the cost of a phone.”

Building with pictures

For Meis and Sedlacek, what began as a communication tool quickly became an important means of documentation. On airplanes, Meis sketches on napkins, takes a photo with iPhone, and emails it to the office. “So it becomes a default scanner and an instant digital image.”

Sedlacek documents construction with iPhone. “Say I’m on a site, taking photos,” he says. “The next day a contractor calls and asks, ‘How do you want this corner?’ I go back and check the photos.”

And designer Xan Young uses iPhone to capture stages of conceptual development. “Recently, we had a 12-hour meeting with clients from Bahrain,” she says. “And we went through maybe 25 different schemes, moving blocks around. At every interval I took a picture with my iPhone. So at the end of the day, we had a record.”

A surprising marketing tool

After their first year in business, Sedlacek and Young surprised the office with a special gift—a photo book documenting their first year in business. The images in the book, taken with iPhone, captured the inspiring story of an architectural firm getting its legs. The employees loved it, and, surprisingly, so did clients.

The book wouldn’t have happened without iPhone. The built-in camera made the development of a vast archive of visual assets possible—without planning or extra effort. Now, Aedas sends the book to all prospective clients, giving them an inside look at the talent and creativity in the firm.

That’s not the only way iPhone has helped Meis distinguish his company. Because of iPhone, clients see Aedas as different. “I was just in a meeting in Bahrain, and I was the only one in the room with iPhone. The clients saw us as more creative because of the tools we were using.” And that, Meis says, helps him win business in a tough economy. “There are only a few projects out there going forward right now. So looking different is very important.”

Keeping up with the apps

With thousands of apps at their disposal, Meis and his staff view iPhone as a tool with ever-expanding possibilities.

“Every Monday morning, we do an applications go-round at our staff meeting,” Meis says. “Everybody has a chance to say, ‘Hey, here’s a cool new app for the office.’”

Meis marvels at how important iPhone has become to his company. “For a couple hundred dollars, I can outfit everyone in the office with a tool that allows me to access their thinking, talent, and availability at any time.” And it’s only the beginning. “The iPhone has taken on a life of its own,” he says. “And it changes every day. It becomes a challenge: How much more productivity can we create with iPhone, using apps that we didn’t even know about yesterday?”

Company Snapshot

  • 17 employees (+ 1 dog named Molly)
  • Venice, California
  • www.aedas.com

Traveling light

With iPhone, Dan Meis has reduced his travel load from six devices to just one or two. “I used to take a laptop, an iPod, a phone, a DVD player, a scanner, a portable printer—and sometimes even a Kindle reader. I felt pretty armed and ready as a mobile office, but it was almost a suitcase full of equipment.” Now, he uses iPhone to watch films on long flights, listen to music, and read books on the Kindle app. At meetings, the camera on iPhone has become his scanner. And, of course, he uses iPhone for calls and email. “The apps and the camera take the place of all of that other equipment,” he says.

Notable Projects

Los Angeles NFL Stadium
Los Angeles, Calif. 2009
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: Aedas Sport

Dalian Soccer Stadium
Dalian, China 2009
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: Aedas Sport

Mazda Stadium
Hiroshima, Japan 2009
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: Aedas Sport (in association with EDI Architecture)

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Penn. 2003
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: NBBJ Sports and Entertainment

Saitama Super Arena
Saitama, Japan 2001
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: Aedas Sport (in association with Nikken Sekkei and Ellerbe Becket)

Staples Center
Los Angeles, Calif.1999
Dan Meis, FAIA - Design Partner
Architect: NBBJ Sports and Entertainment

Safeco Field
Seattle, Wash.1999
Dan Meis, FAIA - Co-Design Principal
Architect: NBBJ Sports and Entertainment

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