by Rick Winterson


   South Boston Online was invited to take part in a recent tour of the newly entitled “Innovation and Design Building”, now commonly known as the “IDB”.  The tour was arranged and sponsored by the Friends of Fort Point Channel (the FFPC), headed by Rachel Borgatti, its Executive Director.  Early on Thursday morning, April 12, approximately 40 members of the “Friends” gathered in the Ann Sacks Showroom (21 Drydock, Suite 120E).  Ms. Sacks had graciously offered her design space for this; coffee and a collation were served.

This tour’s purpose was aimed at introducing interested Fort Point businesses to the commercial and scientific activities that now occupy the Innovation and Design Building (the IDB).  There’s an interesting growth and transition pattern going on within the IDB, which has always been noted for its numerous, striking design offerings.  Now, the IDB has also become the home of some highly interesting businesses that are technical (or “technological”, if you like big words) in nature.  One example of these was Reebok’s development and marketing functions that moved into the IDB last fall.

The two destinations on the April 12 tour were America’s Test Kitchen and AUTODESK’s Build Space.  Both destinations offer a good, professional look at the imagination that goes into design these days – design of both robotic creations and perfectly prepared foods.  There was also plenty of technology to mentally digest, ranging from techniques to make artifacts with robotics to statistics that establish the best way to prepare foods to eat (and enjoy).  If you would like evidence of the latter, simply log onto ATK’s “Cook’s Magazine”.

Meghan from American Test Kitchen and Jared from AUTODESK expertly conducted the tours of their respective businesses.  Their explanations were both clear and interesting, and they answered any and all questions briefly and accurately.  Both presentations were fascinating, as were the visits to the laboratory areas and the actual production facilities.  These are large – AUTODESK is located in a 35,000 square foot, two-level space; America’s Test Kitchen occupies 55,000 square feet, which is considerably more than an acre under roof.

As a proof of their technical expertise, the two enterprises also have extensive, highly technical libraries.  Many of the volumes in these libraries were authored by employees of the enterprises – AUTODESK has published a new, high-tech manufacturing guide they call “The Future of Making”.  And America’s Test Kitchen has a number of laboratories.  As just one example, an American Test Kitchen scientist named Dan gave a short laboratory lecture on the science of bread.  Yes, bread – the human race’s original and oldest “made” foodstuff.

Thus begins networking in South Boston’s new and rapidly developing business/technical areas.