October 6, 2014
By Simon Grayson

Greetings from Dallas! I'm Simon Grayson, one of the 3rd quarter Xchange fellows. Originally from the London office I am currently spending three months working with the team in Dallas.

My flight arrived late last Tuesday so the last few days have been spent getting to grips with both the new City and the office. Both are a big change from what I'm used to back home (and I mean "big"). Immediately the size of the Dallas office has come as a surprise. At 400-500 people it’s much larger than the London office and is in a significantly larger building. It’s going to be interesting to see how the team dynamics differ here (and how big the tea round is…). The team has been very friendly here and both Hutch and Zack have done a great job introducing me to all 500 of the office who have all been very welcoming.

Another big change is in the work I’ll be helping with. For the duration of my stay I'll be working with the Sports Team whereas at home I work within the education department. So far much of the work has consisted of trying to get to grips with just how popular football is here and the size and extents of the stadiums and projects compared to the schools I'm used to working on. However the similarities in how the projects are run and the generous timescales we get from our Clients are already coming through, and at first glance it appears that the UK school bidding process and the US Sports design process have a lot in common. Happily so far the whole metric/imperial issue hasn't come up... 

Dallas itself is also a big change, feeling much larger and being a lot taller than London but being significantly less-dense in plan and layout. It's also becoming apparent how unusual it is not to have a car here and how quiet the streets in Downtown seem when you're walking around. Shortly after my arrival Dan Noble was hosting an interesting talk on city design during which there was a lot of interesting points raised about walkability, livability and the density and amenities needed to ensure a vibrant city life. I’m sure as my three months progress it will be interesting to dwell on these points from a Londoner’s perspective living in Dallas.  

IMG_0099 Downtown Dallas      Dallas fire hydrant Other than football for work and football on the TV, the rest of my time here has been spent figuring out where to get food and supplies from and how to use the limited public transport to get things back to the apartment. At home we have the luxury (or misfortune depending on your point of view) of a Tesco of Sainsbury's on every corner, whereas here it seems you just have to buy a pumpkin big enough to last all year..!

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So I’m looking forward to exploring both Dallas and the surrounding sites in Texas, hoping for continuing success in dodging both Ebola and the storms that seem to have arrived with me, and in getting stuck in with the project work here.

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Tagged HKS Xchange Fellowship, Simon Grayson

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