Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
From left to right:  Deputy District Director Bill Reagan (Design), Lewen Kuo, Vicente Valido, Vivian Nguyen, Oji Kalu, Aline Antaramian, District 7 Director Doug Failing, Deputy District Director Deborah Robertson(External Affairs), Paul Ramiro (front), Ted Macalinao (back), Deputy District Director Ron Kozinski (Environmental Planning) and Dan Tran.

by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 02/2007

Once yearly, Design Branch B squads explore more artistry and color in their interior design work than the usual specifications of gray metals, asphalt and concrete.

About 12 years ago, the friendly “Decoration in Design” holiday office decorating craze began.  Each December, life and work on the 6th floor remains just as friendly -- and perhaps a bit more spirited.

That’s because, what started out as a enjoyable endeavor to participate in holiday cheer by adorning work areas with colorful garlands, ornamentations and other decorations, has turned out to be that and much more: a fun and friendly decorating competition among different groups in Design.  But it’s not so much a contest, as it is a tradition.

“This has been a long-standing tradition as far back as when I was an Associate Transportation Engineer in Design,” said District Director Doug Failing, who headed a festive tour during the Executive Open House on December 21.  And employees in Design have looked forward to it ever since.

Several participants recall the name of the late Office Chief, Peter Hsu, who is credited for launching the decorating rage in the District’s Design Branch B office some time ago.   And each holiday season, the tradition continues.  “Every year it begins by someone instigating action with a heartfelt desire to decorate,” said Elsie Robinson, Transportation Engineer.

“Although interior design qualifications are not part of the job, it’s amazing to see what creative sparks the teams come up with after a year of keeping their noses to the grindstone,” says Bill Reagan, Deputy District Director of Design. 

Branch B consists of six groups called “squads.”  Each squad consists of co-workers who come together in the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie to celebrate and decorate.  A donation from each manager goes toward purchasing decorations and awarding the winners with lunch or other activities or opportunities to have some fun together.  “Regardless of each individual’s backgrounds, all seem to enjoy and participate in the activity,” added Robinson.  “Everyone, no matter what their religious, cultural or spiritual custom, is in favor of this holiday decorating project.  Among us, there have been no objections.”

Three impartial judges score from one to ten points based on categories pertaining to theme, creativity and workmanship.  “I encourage this enjoyable activity, said Aline Antamarian, Branch Chief.  “It gives the Design staff a creative break, too.  They all work so hard together to deliver projects and now they can also have fun together.  And it helps to give us all new energy as we prepare for a new year and new challenges.”  

The first-place winners from Senior Transportation Engineer Rene Yin’s squad say that they started with the theme of “gifts.”   Other first-place squad members includ Myrna Dominguez, Cynthia Chang, Moe Mirza, Hien Nguyen, Incencio Reynon, Art Salazar, Ida Sedler and Le Nguyen.  Second-place went to Oji Kalu’s squad and third-place to Paula Durham’s team.  

Arent designers supposed to think outside of the box? Not if the design theme is Gifts.  Oji Kalu's squad took Second Place for the extreme Gingerbread House effort. Paula Durhams squad took Third Place for this display -- much of which was made by school children. Honorable Mention goes to Mansoor Khans team.