Restored Frank Lloyd Wright Park Inn Hotel Opens

101 years after it first opened, Wright’s Park Inn Hotel is back in the lodging business.  While work is still taking place, guests can once again make reservations to stay at the renovated hotel, and a Grand Opening is planned for September 5-11.

I spent some time last week walking around the hotel and adjoining bank building, and the architectural detailing is amazing.  Spend a little time around this structure and you will begin to realize why it was worth the nearly $20 million that was spent restoring it.  Words cannot do justice to the mix of stained glass, rich woods, brass, copper and brick that have been blended together by Wright’s masterful touch into an architectural symphony.  I have included some recent photos below to help tell the tale, and more are available on our Facebook page.

The original bank and adjoining hotel were designed for James E. Blythe and J. E. E. Markley, two Mason City attorneys.  They wanted a building that could compete with the new, eight story bank that was being constructed across the street.  Markley was familiar with Wright because his daughters attended a school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, that Wright had designed.  The original Blythe and Markley structure contained a bank, the law offices of Blythe and Markley, and the 42 room hotel.  It opened in 1910.  It remained the area’s premiere hotel until 1922 when a more modern, upscale eight story hotel opened nearby.  From that point on, the story of the Park Inn was one of decline.

The Wright on the Park organization has overcome many obstacles to bring the Park Inn Hotel back to life.  Their website, wrightonthepark.org, has numerous photos covering the renovation process as well as background information on the building, the community and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Anyone with an interest in Wright should make a visit to see his only remaining hotel as well as the Stockman House, a private residence designed by Wright.  There are also several other homes designed by Prairie School architects in Mason City.   If you enjoy Prairie School architecture and the Arts and Crafts period, a trip to Mason City is well worth your time; and now you have a place to stay that epitomizes these styles.

Saving the Environment – One Digital Business Practice at a Time!

Although digital meeting and digital publication options for business have been around for some time, many businesses don’t take full advantage of them.  At MTI we realized several years ago that the old ways of doing business weren’t sustainable.  We also realized that if we were touting products that made buildings more sustainable and more environmentally friendly, we should probably be doing business the same way.

Technology is not going away.  While it certainly has negatives, the communication possibilities are so great, it needs to be embraced by businesses of all sizes.  The digital communication practices that follow are sustainable business practices we firmly recommend.

Minimize print matter.  There is no reason to maintain a binder full of product catalogs in the 21st Century.  PDF versions of product catalogs and product flyers are easy to search and easy to store, and they are much more environmentally friendly.  We have all been to major tradeshows and conferences where we’ve witnessed volumes of discarded catalogs, brochures, etc. packed into overflowing trash receptacles.  If we feel compelled to hand out some print matter, why not a business card with our URL?  Or better yet, let’s just put our QR code on a sign and let interested parties take a digital image.  The QR code reader on their smart phone can take them to our electronic media when they have time to look at it.

Digital media can do so much more than print media.  PDFs aren’t just about sending print and images.  They can also contain video and audio.  My document written in English can contain links to translations in other languages or explanatory movies with narrations in other languages.  The possibilities are endless, and they can be delivered in seconds around the world at little cost and on demand.  Utilizing email for product updates and company newsletters is also much quicker, much more economical and much more environmentally responsible than the postcards and brochures we used to rely on for getting the message out.

Rethink business travel and training.  Web meetings can and should supplant sales calls and business meetings.  Most of us complain about the cost of gas, the hassle of airport security checks, the threat of bedbugs, etc., but are we still heading off to a meeting in some other state or some other country?  Sure there are times when we have to be there in person, but many times we don’t; and the savings to the bottom-line and to the environment are huge!   There are many ways we can do meetings online, and the costs have come down tremendously because of the number of services competing for your business.   Not only can you hear and see each other, you can even work on the same documents online, and the down time involved with travel can now be used more productively.

Web conferencing can also be used effectively for training.  Most web conferencing software has a record function built in so that people who are unable to attend can get a rebroadcast of the session.  This saves on the instructor’s time and expense, and it makes the content available in the same format so you’re confident everyone received the same message.

Old habits die hard, but businesses large and small can benefit greatly from adopting 21st Century digital communication practices.  They are sustainable, economical and effective.