Saturday, January 12, 2008

Architectural and Related Blunders

While I may have given the impression that my life is suddenly filled with gamelan rehearsals, let's keep in mind that the gamelan only rehearses twice a week, for less than two hours apiece.
Rather, I would say that my life has been much more full of tedious errand-running, mostly related to the likes of mundane medical matters and graduation-related paperwork. It is amazing to me how much time one can eat up trotting around campus delivering this and picking up that. I don't know how, but this sort of thing can result in my only getting in a couple of hours of work a day.
To be sure, while the exercise of walking around campus is doubtless keeping me from becoming as fat as Orion (jumping on the couch doesn't seem to keep him lithe and slender, I am afraid), it makes me aware of how poorly laid out many buildings are.
For example:
1) The office where one picks up and returns intent-to-graduate forms is tucked away behind two heavy doors. Between these two doors is a classroom. It must be very annoying for people in that classroom to constantly hear those two doors banging shut (they aren't the kind that are easily shut quietly).
2) The office where one picks up audit forms and does various other things relating to undergraduate courses is hidden up a flight of stairs that one reaches by going through a short, narrow passageway with a bathroom door on one side. There is always cross-traffic and oncoming traffic in this passageway.
3) The offices for the Russian and Eastern European Studies program are well enough hidden that despite having been going there fairly regularly since 2002, I still have to rely on signs to find the main door. And, when leaving the area, I still invariably start to walk into their lunchroom instead of going out the exit.
4) The main library does not believe it necessary to put signs by the elevator reminding one which call numbers are on which floors. I always, therefore, go to the top floor and gradually circle my way down hunting for the call numbers on my list.
5) On a related note, the library could certainly use a cloakroom. I realize that these have entirely gone out of fashion and no one believes it is necessary to leave coats anywhere when entering a building, but I get very tired of lugging coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and so on around as I gather a stack of books. While we are having an abnormally warm winter, it is still chilly enough that I do not want to go to the library without a coat or jacket.
6) Finally, let us not forget the many defects of the lovely Fine Arts building. I am not being sarcastic when I describe it as lovely; it is in many respects a beautiful building. But in other respects, I do wonder what drugs the architect was taking during the design process, or if the architect was experiencing senile decay. For example:
6a) Anyone who wants to enter the main stairwell to the left of the front doors is likely to collide with other pedestrians who are entering/leaving by an adjoining door, especially when floods of students are entering and leaving.
6b) It is likewise impossible to enter or leave the main offices (either ours or the Studio program's) when students are departing the auditorium; this would be akin to attempting to cross an urban freeway.
6c) The pillars in the Fine Arts Library (decorative or structural, I know not) are positioned exactly where the pedestrian wanting to go up the stairs to the balcony would normally walk. Since my carrel is up those stairs, I am reminded of this each day. Admittedly, most people don't regularly run up and down those stairs.
6d) Since the bathroom in the library is reserved for library staff, and since the other bathroom on ground floor is reserved for faculty, staff, and the handicapped, grad students using the library are obliged to run up or down several flights of stairs, out the library door, and up or down another flight of stairs (possibly crossing that flood of undergraduate traffic) to find a permissible bathroom. I am glad none of us seem to be too prone to digestive upset. Then again, this may explain why some people spend so little time working in our library.
6e) There are rumored to be elevators somewhere in the building, but I wouldn't know where to direct someone in a wheelchair to find them.

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Blogger Kristen said...

I hate to tell you this, but there are signs on each floor of Hillman near the elevators telling you about the call numbers... Unless they've removed them now that I've memorized them. (They did recently move some things around...)

Just blame Miss Frick for everything that's wrong with our building! ;)

January 13, 2008 7:06 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

And... I always use that restroom anyway. I figure I'm teaching, I'm faculty. Screw them. Actually, there's only one troublemaker involved with that one. I'm pretty sure they can't legally block access to a public restroom anyway. Well, at least to anyone who is allowed access to the building. The elevators are in the hallway to the right of the gallery. I found this out when I had foot surgery round 1.

January 13, 2008 7:09 AM  

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