Kaizen is “an easier thing to apply in operations,” she noted. “You can continuously improve how much energy you’re consuming per square foot, for instance.”
“However, we’ve been able to adapt these ideas by creating different kinds of metrics for those areas that may not be easy to measure,” she continued, citing a 15-question survey given to visitors. Those responses “become the basis for evaluation internally—this person says they’re really thirsty halfway through their tour, so maybe we can have water or rest stops.”
“I would venture to say that everybody on our staff knows the definition of kaizen and has participated in kaizen events,” Rales added.
The attention to detail shows up everywhere, from the meticulous planting of more than 8,000 trees, to the dove-white umbrellas offered to visitors in case of rain, to the two light-filled cafes with farm-to-table food. The buildings and the 230 acres of grounds (the Pavilions were designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, and the landscaping was by Adam Greenspan of PWP Landscape Architecture) were lavished with just as much attention as the collection, to create what Wei Rales called a “holistic experience of art, architecture, and landscape.” Glass walls around the water courtyard and the rest of the building stream natural light into the Pavilions, nearly eliminating the need for artificial lighting during the day; Rales beamed as he noted not a drop of chemicals had been used to treat the grounds in the past eight years.