Martin Moser
(Moser Architects, Inc)

Build Me Up, Buttercup


In the middle of a city park in Battle Creek, Michigan, a gazebo stands proudly. For someone who is visiting, the humble structure would rate either a first thought or a second look. It stands about twenty feet high, is octagonal and appears to be made out of treated timber and other traditional building materials and fits peacefully amongst the landscaping and the trees. Made twenty-five years ago, it has easily withstood the elements and appears to be in excellent shape and devoid of all type of deterioration. Structures like this are not especially rare but it is likely the first one that was designed and built by a twelve-year old child. Twenty-five years ago, as part of a class assignment, seventh grader Martin Moser, approached the Mayor and the City Council with a proposal for a gazebo for the park.

The agenda schedule for the council meeting was established via phone calls so no one was prepared for a diminutive child approaching the entire council with blueprints in one hand and a scale model of the project in the other. Some of the engaged council members failed to see Martin approach the podium and each one did the classic double take when they finally figured out that the kid was actually on the agenda. Martin spoke professionally, completely ignoring his age and the novelty of the situation. He directed the group through an impressive presentation; complete with environmental impact statements, interviews with neighboring families and a scale model of the park with his proposed gazebo positioned as its crown jewel.

After a few minutes, the council was not thinking about Martin's age or size as they were transfixed with his demeanor and the his ability to hold an audience's attention completely and without difficulty. After his presentation was concluded and the council had a final chance to ask questions, no one did and the proposal to build the first Martin Moser designed building was accepted. Furthermore, Martin was named foreman for the project and all materials and resources would be made available to him without delay. Martin thanked each member individually, walking the semi-circle and shaking hands in a mature and appropriate manner. He then packed up with materials and walked out of the chamber with his first deal.

Needless to say, the gazebo went up on time and on budget. The city crew assigned to Martin initially balked at the age of their foreman but by the first lunch, each laborer had every confidence in Martin and his obvious genius when it came to building. It was an odd site to see a crew of men being directed, by all accounts, by a clipboard-carrying child. The Battle Creek paper came out to document it and was convinced by Martin that the original cartoon concept they had in mind was not a good idea. He took the photographer and beat writer aside and convinced them the story should be about teamwork, open minds and the love of the city. The intent of the original picture would have demeaned the project and degraded the work crew and this became the first of many times in which Martin placed the timeless beauty of the project ahead of the temporary and short-sighted needs of the audience.

The day the gazebo was dedicated, the mayor called Martin up to say a few words. This time, his age and size could not be hidden from the crowd. To a person, the gazebo was a nice addition but again, Martin wanted the structure to get the attention. He thanked the mayor and spoke extemporaneously about his crew and their abilities. If one shut the eyes and discounted the pre-pubescent timbre of his voice, Martin's words were comforting and confident. The moderately large crowd attending the presentation were quiet and amazed; most of them would not have attended if this gazebo was managed by a generic city official, but the novelty of Martin's age made this a hot ticket for the locals. This oddity was a committed young adult with a focus and a talent that needed as much room as possible to flourish. After the ceremony, several local architects had pulled Martin aside and offered him part-time employment. Most of the architects were trying to capitalize on his celebrity and Martin, knowing that, politely declined. Several others seemed genuine but Martin wanted to demonstrate his loyalty to the city if possible, so he arranged a face to face meeting with the Mayor.

The meeting was very low-key, as both parties wanted, due to pressure of "hiring a child" to work for the city. The Mayor knew Martin's work, unpaid or paid, was taking money from some other applicant somewhere. Battle Creek was a staunch union town and any variations from standard operating procedure and existing contracts, no matter how cute, would leave him open to brickbats at the next election. Also, one gazebo does not a legend make so the Mayor didn't want to allow the successful momentum of Martin's first victory unfairly cloud his judgment. Finally, the Mayor didn't want to be perceived as making political hay on the back of a twelve-year old boy. He thought Martin was a rare talent but if necessary, a talent that could stay busy building tree houses until he was old enough for legitimate work.

Martin had his issues as well; he wanted to do something legitimate and was not interested in cutesy jobs due to his temporary local celebrity. He also had a strong Union support system ingrained into him so he was also aware of the issues of worker displacement. He also realized that the timing was difficult with an election just six months away that his involvement going forward with the city was a significant unknown factor and probably too much of a risk for all parties.

"Sit down, Martin" said the Mayor, "I want to thank you for all your hard work on the project."

"Thank you, sir," said Martin with a respectful tone, "I appreciated working on it and look forward to working with you in the future."

"Ah, the future." sighed the Mayor, "What did you have in mind?"

"It's your town," reacted Martin, "You tell me."

The Mayor smiled, the move was his to make and he had no idea what to do. If he asked Martin to keep doing things, it would be at the expense of some worker or he would be accused of playing politics.

The Mayor decided to come clean and bring Martin into his quandary. They both knew the issues and they spent the afternoon discussing the many factors. The image of the two engaged in an equal give and take discussion was laughable to anyone who could have imagined it but by all appearances, the kid came in for a handshake and a photo op and he would be coming out of the office. Eventually.

Martin liked civic projects because the audience was obvious: everyone. He had studied, much to his disappointment, many of the great buildings excluded the common folk and the physical structure intimidated and overtly discouraged the non-exclusive to enjoy their structures. With the exception of the great buildings, the People's Buildings, in Washington D.C., there were only a few architectural wonders that invited all people to them. But the decisions in front of him were all difficult; he didn't want to do double secret jobs for the Mayor and he didn't want to be put in a position that screwed up other people. The stumbling point was his age and he knew that the age factor was just a temporary obstacle and would soon enough be a non-issue.

"You see Martin, I don't see" started the Mayor.

Martin raised his hand to interrupt him, "I agree, Mr. Mayor. The timing is bad."

Visibly relieved, the Mayor shook his hand and stood to subtlety usher him out. Two minutes later, Martin found himself on the steps of City Hall with a legal box full of building documents and no future prospects. On the bright side, he was twelve years old and on the not-so-bright side, there was no job to go to tomorrow and school was still eight weeks away. He placed the legal box on the back of his bicycle and pedaled home. It was time for some deep thought.

Occasionally, Martin would take some time and ponder an issue with enormous concentration. These deep thought periods were exhausting but always fruitful. So, once he coasted into his driveway, he put the box on a shelf and the tube of drawings in a clean plastic garbage can (purchased specifically for his plans) and wandered into the backyard. He climbed a tree and sat in the crook of intersection of two main branches. Hidden from view, he sat and thought what he should do next. Time went on and Martin sat and thought about everything. He didn't focus on a particular issue because that limited his problem solving scope; Martin always thought that too narrow of a focus on a problem resulted in narrow, short-sighted solutions so he allowed his mind to wander. The idea of a traditional job was out of the question for the time being primarily due to his age. He also didn't want to be viewed as an oddity so he shelved the idea of working with the city crew again for the time being. The only thing he was certain about was the need to continue to build. He loved drawing the plans and leading the building crew into making something that was a testament to quality and beauty. He had achieved self-actualization six years before he would have to learn about Maslow and he didn't want to lose that feeling.

Sitting in the tree, he decided the best thing to do for the time being was to keep making gazebos. He bicycled down to the Battle Creek Enquirer and placed a classified advertisement listing his services to custom build gazebos. The ad cost him six dollars for the week and he went home to tell the folks about his plan. Dinner was being served and Martin decided to tell the family in one grand declaration.

"I started my business today," proclaimed Martin, "I am building more gazebos."

His little sister giggled because she always laughed when he talked. Martin had said the word "gazebo" about two hundred times in the weeks preceding the city dedication and every time she heard it, she laughed.

"That's nice," said his mother, "but make sure you take some time and be a twelve-year old this summer."

"Okay, Mom," said Martin, "but I also want to finish building you the patio."

Martin's father had delegated the job to Martin due to his complete inability to build or repair anything. Martin accepted the job with enthusiasm and had already arranged for his old foreman to come over and finish the job. The foreman wouldn't take any money, out of professional courtesy, and Martin was confident that the job would be finished quickly.

"I appreciate you taking care of the patio, Martin," said his father. "You can run your business out of the garage when I am at work."

"I will answer the phone," sincerely added his mother. "I will take messages for you but other than that, you are on your own."

"I'll help," contributed his little sister, "Whatever you want."

"Thanks everyone," said Martin. "The ad will be in the paper starting tomorrow."

No one asked him specifically his plans mainly because they were used to Martin's unique approach to the business world. When he announced his plans for the city park, they were quietly supportive but thought he would have no chance to succeed. He also had supervised several house remodeling for some older couples in the neighborhood. Those were not known until well after the jobs were completed when gifts of money and food kept arriving. Just as a child would react when his plans for a Kool-Aid stand were discovered, Martin seemed somewhat embarrassed being treated as a respected general contractor by hulking carpenters, union bricklayers and electricians. The craftsmen accepted him right away and he was accumulating favors and respect before he had attended Junior High.

The next morning, the phone rang off the hook. Thrown out of the house at first light by his mother with express orders to participate in some age-appropriate activity, when Martin returned he had seventy-five phone messages. He spent the morning at the City Park attempting to play baseball when several of the city workers found him and asked him about his new business. They knew his plans were foolproof and wanted him to know that they were available on weekends to lend a hand. When he got home, he found his mother still in her bathrobe and nightgown, frantically organizing and sorting out the phone messages.

"You have seventy-five messages and you don't have to play baseball ever again," said his Mother.

"Thanks, Mom" said Martin as he was reviewing the notes. He began organizing the notes by the time of the call, and looking at his mom's cryptic notes. He went to the garage and started calling the people and his goal was to get back to them the same day. He had estimated that he would have two types of gazebos, a ten-foot and a twenty-foot version. He had already costed out the prototype and was sure that he could make a nice profit. The calls were all slight variations of this:

"Hello, this is Martin Moser. Thank you for calling me."

"Are you the kid that made gazebo in the park?"

"That's me."

"What are the cost of making one for me?"

"Well, I have two prices: one thousand dollars and two thousand dollars."

"How long will it take to build it?"

"Three days."

"When can you start?"

"I can start tomorrow with half the money down and half upon completion."

This conversation ended with fifty-five gazebos to be built over the rest of the summer. Martin had made phone calls to the suppliers to arrange material and schedules and then he called his old foreman. The plans were perfect and the assembly simple so the foreman took it upon himself to put together a crew of high school kids, which were children of every craftsman in town. Martin and he figured they could do ten gazebos every ten days with a crew teams of three. An advance crew would pour the cement foundation a day ahead of the build crew and on paper, everything looked good. A thousand dollars was a lot of money to pay back in the middle 1960's but it actually could work. Martin pedaled down to the city engineer to pull the first thirty permits.

The next day, the cement crew was visiting the first ten houses, using a borrowed cement truck from the local supplier. Committing to use his product exclusively, Martin negotiated the use of an extra truck that was sitting unused in the back. By the end of the second day of actual construction, all ten gazebos were built and everyone was happy. The crews were being paid at the end of each job, the suppliers enjoyed the nice, low-risk bump in business and Martin had made two thousand dollars. By the end of the summer, the crews were working like clockwork and in the eight weeks before his seventh-grade classes began, Martin had made sixty-five thousand dollars, which was twice as much as his dad was currently making as a senior executive. The gazebos continued to sell and the crews were split into two shifts with many of the city workers picking up much-needed income by doing them after work. The plans had not undergone any revision, which is unheard of in the building business, and the crews were becoming very adept in the building of them. Now, it was being done in a day and a half with no compromise to quality. Once the cement footings were ready, the gazebo would be built in a few hours and the customers loved them. Referrals were how business was coming to Martin and when the books were closed on the 1966 fiscal year, six dollars were shown as the entire advertising budget for the company.

There was Martin Moser gazebos littered throughout Battle Creek, Augusta, Galesburg and Richland. As the school year began, Martin arranged for the city foreman, Ansolmo Pederasty, to quit his job and take over as CEO of Martin Moser Architect and Building Company (MMABC). The foreman had put in his twenty years with the city and was destined to supervise crews of wide technical talent. With the money coming into the gazebo business, they would use the best people, best equipment and still have a good time. When it came to incorporate MMABC in the early winter, the paperwork was delayed until Martin was home from school and even then, he could only sign about a fourth of the documents. He was still flying under the radar of many of the citizens of Battle Creek due to his age and relationship with the city foreman, but anyone who knew anything, was very impressed with the young man.

In the winter, Ansolmo and Martin would meet in the warehouse and review business on a daily basis. As the Founder of the company, Martin drew no direct salary as all his equity and ownership was being sheltered per a plethora of state Employment of Minors statues. Martin's mother and sister worked in the company as much as possible to keep a formal family interest, but this was a good idea for all concerned because everyone involved knew something unique and wonderful was going on. Usually, construction workers would be laid off during the slow winter months but thanks to mail order gazebo kits, the crews stayed active with warehouse and commercial sales. The staff consisted of over half of the original crew, primarily made up of students, now mainly enrolled at the local vocational school, Martin's mom and sister and Ansolmo. Eventually, the gazebos would be distributed nationally and the money that was coming in was almost embarrassing. Not only did it provide wonderful cash flow at that time; the gazebo division still runs an impressive profit today.

By this time, the innovations that Martin developed, were being patented, including an interlocking hinge system that allowed the gazebos to hinge together simply with no exposed hardware and a new hand tool that allowed the assemblers to use it exclusively as they build Martin's buildings. The tool was a hybrid of a hammer, screwdriver and wrench, was cheekily called a "moser" by people that used them. Although the official name was a "plunker," it allowed crews to quickly assemble products and make a rare adjustment with ease. The crews would leave the plunker with the homeowner and within several weeks, were filling dozens of orders daily for the new item.

Martin came to see Ansolmo in December to talk about what the next phases of MMABC. Ansolmo was a big fan of Martin and saw magic in the young man so there was deferential respect shown when Martin spoke.

"I am pretty tired of gazebos," said Martin, "Let's do something else."

"Good idea, Martin," countered Ansolmo, "what did you have in mind?

"I like the idea of building things for people. Something like the gazebos but bigger and more interesting."

"We should keep the gazebos going," said Ansolmo, "but something new on top of it would be nice." "Garages?"

"Really huge plunkers?

"Log cabins?"

"Houses?"

"Let's go with log cabins," said Ansolmo. "They are big enough and interesting enough for our next project."

Over the next two months with almost no assistance from Ansolmo or other respected advisors, Martin completed two variations of a log cabin for sale. Within the plans, the owner could choose from a left-handed or right-handed version and either two or three bedrooms. The component nature of the cabins was another demonstration of Martin's innate design genius. The plans were based on a simple concept of flexibility: people could have a lot of options but the plans were designed for the builders to easily accommodate those changes. When Ansolmo looked at the plans, he couldn't believe they came from the hand of a seventh grader. The pure beauty of interchangeable functionality was what struck Ansolmo but he knew there were details and flow strategies which escaped his simple mind. He made a few phone calls until he found an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University interested in validating Ansolmo's opinion of Martin's genius.

Ansolmo walked into the cramped office of the Assistant Professor and laid out the two sets of plans: the gazebo and the log cabin. The professor loomed over them for a few moments and then found some books to flatten the plan corners. She again stared at them, then reached for the phone and dialed a number.

"Could you come to my office?" asked the young Assistant Professor with a subtle sense of urgency in his voice and a moment later, he responded, "Thanks."

While she was waiting for the mystery visitor, the Professor just stared at the plans in a similar manner of viewing a painting. She didn't focus on any particular detail or concentrate on either plan but rather seemed content in looking at both plans at the same time. Ansolmo sat quietly, sipping some of the Professor's bad coffee, and waited.

Five minutes later, two older professor-types came in and were drawn to the plans. All three were transfixed and finally, the oldest professor type said something.

"Jesus Christ," she said while looking at Ansolmo, "Did you do these plans?"

"No, I did not," said Ansolmo, "my boss did them."

"Is he here?" questioned the other older professor.

"No, he is in class."

"Does he teach?"

"No, he attends."

"You mean a graduate student did these?"

"No, he is in seventh grade and he ....."

"You see Ansolmo," interrupting the Assistant Professor, "these plans are perfect, absolutely perfect. No one here, and I mean no one, could do these."

"That's what I thought," said Ansolmo as he rolled up the plans and left his business card.

The following several years brought consistent and impressive success for MMABC. The year of the log cabins was wildly successful only to be surpassed by the year of the three-story office cube building. Each year Ansolmo and Martin added to their inventory another component of easy to build and easy to use structures. The costs were reasonable, the customers were exceedingly happy and the profits were mind-boggling. The efforts of Martin Moser and his loyal, talented team made Martin a millionaire well before he could get a driver's license. Gazebos, log cabins, the building cube and all the other Moser-designed products were being sold throughout the world with steady and consistent success. Martin was still pretty much unknown except for the looming legend: sheltered by Ansolmo Pederasty, his Mother and the now a full Professor of Architecture, Danielle Lancaster. Daniel had moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to accept the position at UV but kept in touch with MMABC constantly. She was tutoring Martin with formal education in Architecture and Design but was smart enough to allow Martin as much latitude as possible to allow the bright light of innovation to travel without restriction.

When Martin concentrated on an issue or a challenge, he would become distant but pleasant. He did most of his planning alone as he felt large rooms were stifling; either the groupthink would water down any available creativity or the annoying habit of people nodding together in a subconscious choreographed manner would get him giggling and force him to lose concentration. He would walk around his office, usually on top of his desk and table to gain perspective and eventually have the blueprint in his head. Then, he would begin drafting the blueprint with enough detail to have it inked and cross-checked for validity. He drew the log cabin free hand and the original blueprint is framed in Ansolmo's office. That blueprint went through no revisions or challenges; Ansolmo treated it as an original work of art.

By the time he graduated from High School, Martin was multi-millionaire with buildings located all over the United States and Canada concentrating on manufacturing, assembly and design. During his four years in college, as a fine arts student, Martin began to look at less obvious applications on architecture and sought out opportunities in which art and architecture could elegantly compliment each other. As a result of his senior project, Martin won the Pritzker Architecture Prize for Excellence for his proposal to build a prototypical city government plaza. Not only did he win the award, he sold the design and received the bid for build it for the city of Austin, Texas. These last two events thrust Martin, unwilling or not, into the bright national spotlight. And once the attention focused, the legend loomed even larger once the stories of gazebos, plunkers and log cabins were unearthed. Up until the award ceremony, Martin was largely unknown at the University; to avoid unnecessary celebrity he enrolled under his middle name and his mother's maiden name, attended mainly night school classes and was a student in the School of Fine Art and Theater. The rumors were rampant that Martin Moser, hotshot architect kid-genius was enrolled but no one could find him. There were two Architecture students named Martin who continually denied being Moser as well as numerous individuals claiming they possessed the ability to arrange meetings for him. Needless to say, he never was discovered nor did any of his high school classmates attending the University exposed him.

The celebrity was successfully deflected by the public relations firm reluctantly hired by MMABC and Martin, now a graduated from Michigan State was able to fade into the world of design without a lot of clues of his whereabouts. He continued expanding his company, now approaching a half a billion dollars, with more emphasis on user-friendly buildings that put an emphasis on the work that was going on inside them versus outward, more showy expressions of ego and pomposity. Far from utilitarian, the buildings were a testament to deep thought on how people worked within buildings and the designs allowed the inhabitants to happily discover amenities almost by surprise. The hallways were just the right width to accommodate moderate traffic flow with alcoves randomly offering respites for brief hallway meetings. Doors were wider than convention with some outfitted with half-door options or windows between offices to encourage cross-departmental communication and camaraderie. All the buildings were extremely focused on providing access for disabled patrons years before it was mandated as well as Martin's accommodations for custodial work Areas were just the right size for the large floor brooms to make efficient sweeps and surfaces hid dirt well enough that the janitor didn't have to kill themselves to keep the place clean. Martin was quick to point out to clients, after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, that his initial designs saved the company millions in retrofitting costs due to his vision. Martin did it as a natural extension of his vision of the building working for the person, not the other way around but it worked out both ways.

The buildings were full of subtle innovations: wider than usual parking stalls, numerous hose faucets, computer terminal accesses on the roof, hidden corners in which a phone and comfortable chair was available, modular offices which allowed for user customizations, windows that actually opened and an occasional shower in some restrooms. Each building's core would be similar and the uniqueness came from establishing numerous outer shell options that in turn, saved MMABC millions of dollars in design costs. Customers would be informed that their options would be limited to business-specific functionality and outside presentation. Some customers balked at the loss of opportunity to design their own buildings and MMABC were more than happy to part ways; MMABC wanted to provide enlightened service by allowing input where it was appropriate and to discourage ideas in areas that were their sole responsibility.

By the time Martin was 30 years old, MMABC was a multi-billion corporate entity filled with devotees from Battle Creek, Michigan State and individuals that sought the company out because they were fans of Martin's works and philosophies. Martin rarely granted interviews within the trade or national press but he was very accessible to children's magazines and high school papers. One time, as this legend goes, an editor of a large national news presence because frustrated with Martin's lack of interest in a full-length interview in his magazine. Through the public relations firm, she offered Martin full editorial approval, his choice of several well-known writers and the cover. Martin, via the firm, politely refused. Frustrated at dinner one night, the editor was lamenting to her family that Martin Moser was an odd and difficult individual and she could not imagine working for "that horse's ass."

Her seventeen-year old son said, "You mean Martin Moser, the architect guy?"

"Why, yes," she sputtered, "how do you know that?" The son, who until this moment, demonstrated a complete lack of interest in anything which was worthwhile or otherwise related to the betterment of one's education.

"Our paper did an article on him last week," he deadpanned, "I took the pictures."

The mother-editor laughed and assumed it was some canned article pieced together with standard press release fodder, aged stock photos and a story plagiarized from several old Architecture magazines.

"That's nice," she said, "Tell me about him." She fully expected the son to backtrack a bit and admit to the qualified components of the story.

"He is kind of funny and really nice, he gave me and the rest of the staff one of these," said the son. He reached into his pocket and brandished a Mont Blanc pen with the Moser logo discretely embossed on it. "He also gave me a copy of The Fountainhead and made me promise I would read it this summer. It seems like a cool book."

The mother and editor dropped her fork. There was no way the child could have received the pen or literary advice from anyone else. She was in shock and asked, "May I see that article?"

The son got up from the dinner table and returned a moment later with the paper. Inside, on page three, was an article, at least five thousand words, on all topics great and small. The high school had scooped her and she had no idea about it except through happenstance. She read the article, which was reasonably well written for five high school reporters, and gained her first real insight on Moser. He answered a lot of questions about why he did things but there was a tone of encouragement aimed directly at the high school reader to become passionate about things they had interest in and to care about doing things right. The article touched on a lot of subjects and her son's photos were very good showing a subtle touch for the subject as well as being the first recent picture of Moser. The one item that stood out was when the interviewer asked Martin if he had any goals, which as first blush seemed ridiculous. Martin said that he "wanted to build some small things" in the future, which gave the reader that he desired to reconnect with the everyday again. The rest of the article was well balanced with variations of stories that were now legend and several antidotes that had never been presented until now.

"How did you get this interview?" asked the editor and mother.

"I think we called him up and asked him."

Approximately at this time, Ansolmo Pederasty and Martin were eating in the office when he decided to retire much to the dismay of Martin. He was still enjoying his health and was incredibly wealthy. He, like Martin, didn't care about the money but he wanted to allow some younger blood to come in and provide Martin with some energizing support and essential counter-balance to his genius. Martin wasn't interested in the change and told him so. Sitting in one of the unnamed and unmarked meeting alcoves in their headquarters, Martin and Ansolmo sat down like the thousands of times before, with Martin standing on top of a table and Ansolmo putting his feet up on the same surface.

"Why do you have to quit?" asked Martin.

"You need someone to keep pushing you," said Ansolmo, "and I am too old to work everyday."

"You don't work everyday," said Martin, "you come in whenever you like and do whatever you want to do."

"I know," said Ansolmo, "but you should get one of the younger folks to become President."

Ansolmo was speaking of roughly ten individuals, including his sister, that were managing the ten major divisions of the Company. Martin was aware that as long as Ansolmo was President, they would all stay within MMABC due to loyalty and enjoyment of their job. With Ansolmo stepping down, the ten may feel slighted if one of them was passed over as part of a promotion.

"I don't know which one should be President," said Martin. "Each one deserves it."

"I have an idea," said Ansolmo, "Make them all President." We will allow them to run their own businesses, coordinate projects when appropriate and we'll vote on things that touch us all." "On one condition," said Martin, "you remain Chairman and you get two votes."

"Okay," responded Ansolmo, "but I got one condition as well."

"What is that?" asked Martin.

"You have to start coming to meetings," said Ansolmo, "one hour per month."

Can I keep building things?"

"It's your company," said Ansolmo, "just keep doing what you are doing and make some effort to write things down. Especially after plan meetings."

The "plan meeting" was unique to MMABC: each plan had to be presented to Martin for his review. It was not an approval process because he believed his was not qualified to approve a project in fifteen minutes that may have taken six months to develop. His methodology for review was standard: have Ansolmo approve the budget and then directly arrange a meeting. Once you came to his office or he to yours, you had to be prepared to listen and talk with an open mind. Martin wanted to see a fierce commitment to the building and its users; he did not want to see sloppy work nor did he wish to see someone who wasn't passionate about the gig. If you were distant or detached and viewing the project as just another building, you would have a bad day. If you put the owner's (not the employees) personal demands ahead of the buildings, you would have a very bad day. Finally, if you lied about anything, Martin would know it and give a look of bored disappointment...not anything people ever wished to repeat. You brought your A-game to the meeting and if your project wasn't ready: it didn't go.

The next day, the announcement hit the trade paper with the news of MMABC promoting Ansolmo to Chairman Emertius and those ten people were being promoted to President of MMABC. In the story, Martin's name did not appear but by its obvious and purposeful absence, the industry was relieved that MMABC was stronger than ever. Moser was attracting the top design and engineering talent and the enlightened kept coming to build buildings of all types that complimented form and function. Martin provided these few gifted individuals with complete accountability and an opportunity to work with other talented people. The only rules were geared towards their true client: the structure itself. Building ownership came and went along with corporate hierarchy and as long as the design stayed true to the needs on the individual, the balance was achieved and beauty endured.

Back to Short Stories