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design, be especially comfortable with the designer’s preferences, his flexibility and willingness to respond to your criteria. In the case of the contractor, focus on the project manager and site superintendent you will work with. Realize you will live with them for the full duration of the project and afterward. Don’t emphasize low cost as primary selection criteria unless you are very sure of yourself in managing design and construction processes. “Doing your homework” means that you need to take the time to really understand what is being designed and built and be comfortable with it. Most people do not read plans well and cannot visualize the concepts designers propose in three dimensions. To address this, take the time to do site visits to similar projects and look at them as they relate to your architect’s design. Your ultimate satisfaction will be driven by how you live in the space on the inside as opposed to how it looks on the outside


and visits will help you get the “feel” of space design. Ask for mock ups of areas as the construction proceeds and walk the project regularly. Something to focus on for ultimate success is anything people touch in the course of engaging the project such as doors, hardware, countertops and plumbing fixtures. These details will define the feeling of quality your project conveys. This leads to the critical nature of the owner staying

engaged. Give the designer and contractor immediate feedback if you are in any way concerned. The biggest cause of strife in projects is the resolution of costly late- breaking changes as construction is underway. When there are changes or cost issues, deal with them immediately and do not let things accumulate. It is far healthier to solve things promptly than allow them to amass into a complex bigger issue. Finally, give praise as well as criticism. Workers will do their best for people that appreciate them. If you can do these things, you will be well on the road to a successful project.

Communicate science to the masses

Kate Lain ’00 has an MFA in science and natural history filmmaking. While earning her degree, she watched way more science and natural history documentaries than anyone ever should, which might account for the hint of sarcasm in her list.

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Assume your audience knows nothing of your topic, thinks science is boring, but is easily dazzled

by sciency things like test tubes, scientists in lab coats and Erlenmeyer flasks.

Oversimplify. Forget all those fascinating complexities that are part and parcel of scientific

processes. Don’t ever acknowledge that science is actually a messy process of tentative conclusions and adventurous speculation.

Dispense all sorts of interesting facts. Give your audience the impression that science is a monolith of facts, which are themselves inarguable, irrefutable bits of objective reality that are objectively uncovered by objective scientists (preferably in lab coats).


Have an offscreen voice-of-God narrator deliver the bulk of your information. Make sure your viewers remain passive recipients of scientific knowledge.

Incorporate interviews with lots of on-screen, talking-head scientists. No one will question their authority since they’re Scientists and not really humans—especially if they’re wearing lab coats.

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Utilize colorful, flashy, fast-moving animated computer graphics accompanied by crazy sciency

sounds, like ones that are colloquially associated with lasers. Your audience will never question your authority because they will think your film was made by Science and not by actual people!


Finally, incorporate impressive-looking pieces of scientific equipment and the images they produce.

Mass spectrometers, MRIs, flux capacitors, whatever. Show your viewers that science is all about strange gadgets and that they should just blindly trust it as an all- knowing authority since it looks super-cool and produces weird graphs and images—and makes time travel in a DeLorean possible.

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