Lesson to learn…

So, 10 days ago while eating lunch in the break room at work there was a lively discussion about a newspaper article. The article stated that the Nanjing public transit bureau had opened a competition to design new bus stops for the city. There was a lot of talk about the competition and that it was probably due to the pending Youth Olympic Games. I asked if anyone was going to submit an entry and was surprised to find out not a single person was. Most had the same excuse, not enough time, too busy with work… Well I thought to myself, why not! So on my lunch break for the next week I drew sketches and put together SketchUp models on my computer and what I found out was that my colleagues were right! This was going to be really rushed. But I had already got together some impressive designs and so I pushed on. What could it hurt?

The newspaper article had listed only the following simple requirement,  three different design variations that could meet different space requirements around the city. I took the lack of details to mean “creative license” would be given but just to be sure I did a quick internet search and all I came up with was the new paper article I had already read.


Well, I had one complete concept and several variation of that idea. I had three size variations and with in those, I had options for two different seating arrangements, a tree planter (to provide extra shade) and even a green roof design option. My main goal was to provide seating and shade for the large number of commuters Nanjing has. I also wanted to give options for the different sized areas that would be available to place a structure like this. The tree planter and green roof were my hopes of providing more of a green environment in a city that really needs it.


The biggest hurdle to overcome wasn’t the design itself but the explanation, which had to be completely done in Chinese. That used up pretty much all the time I had left and my wife was nice enough to check my translations to make sure it was professional. When it comes to speaking, I usually have no problem explaining concepts to clients but my sometimes my writing still reads like a middle schooler. That being said I ended up with a very modest 10 page PDF which I printed and delivered during my lunch break.

When I got the transportation bureau the nice gentleman behind the desk looked over my design and told me that I was missing the application form (which he printed out for me). He then pointed out that I may want to read over the requirements on that form because it seemed my presentation was not quiet complete, missing some details. My heart sank. The newspaper article had not been very specific (at all) and my basic search on line hadn’t even turned up this application form, more or less a detailed list of requirements like the one I was now looking at. I read over the list… Details, wonderful, clear and entirely too late to help my design, details.

Besides specific measurement for the bus stop to be designed (that I did not know about before), there were also requirements for the design packet that was to be turned in. The packet I was holding in my had was lacking a lot of things that needed to given to the committee of adjudicators who would be reviewing these projects. I thanked the nice man in the office, who reminded me that “tomorrow is the last day to turn everything in”… My heart said, “So much for that hard work”, my mouth said “thank you for all your help”.

Surprisingly, 2 of my 3 size options were right on but changing that last one was going to take some time, I also needed to add a few remarks to clarify specific concerns that where listed in the requirements, reprint the presentation along with making two copies on CD (who does that? I just use a thumb drive) and find time to turn it in. It was already getting late on Friday evening and I had my second job the next day. Did I really want to pull an all-nighter? I decided it was too much. I saved my work away for some other day when a bus stop needed designing and that was that, lesson learned. Never put in the design time until you know the specific detail of what you are going to be designing. I am positive I will never make that mistake again.


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