When I was 14, I got my first job at a clay factory. We made potting clay for schools and universities throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. It was a tough job, a two-man assembly line full of machinery that threatened to pull our hands into their twisting augers. And yet the real danger was less obvious. Silica dust.
When he was 18, my brother, who also worked at the factory, was diagnosed with cancer. We can’t be sure the silica dust caused it, but the substance is a known lung carcinogen. Fortunately, my brother is alive and well. Surgeons removed the tumor behind his ear, and he’s been healthy ever since, for which I’m eternally grateful. Angela Nahikian, the director of global environmental sustainability at Steelcase, tells a similar, more tragic story. Nahikian’s family friend grew up on a commercial fruit farm, and all her siblings developed a fatal form of cancer caused by agricultural pesticides. It is that story, in part, that drives Nahikian to push her company toward healthier, more sustainable products.
This issue of gb&d is devoted to high-performance workspaces that respect and support human and environmental health, from the regenerative Bullitt Center to Studio Gang’s living office in Chicago. A special thanks to Zurich Esposito, Emily Chan, Josh Mogerman, Samantha Snodgrass, and two hugely important individuals who are calling this issue of gb&d their last: Samantha Simmons, our inimitable staff photographer who shot the cover and every portrait in the Chicago workplace feature, and associate editor Melanie Loth, without whom this magazine would not be what it is. A sincere thank you to you both.
Timothy A. Schuler, Managing Editor