Friday, October 14, 2011

I love Hyland Hall's design. NOT! (by anon)

In 2009 the University unveiled its first new academic building in 22 years. Hyland Hall cost $41.5 million to build. It's filled with shiny banisters, sleek wood paneling, a cafe and several crippling design flaws that call into question the qualifications of anyone involved in the project.

The North side of the building has a large staircase, able to encompass both lanes of traffic. People can travel up and down without impediment. A problem, however, emerges when one considers that classes are held on both sides of the building, and the southern facing staircase is a sadistic abortion of architecture.

The southern side of the building, like the north, features on staircase. The caveat is that this one is half the size. When classes get out, people instantly bottle neck in the tiny stairwell, backing well down the hallway. The stairs are barely able to accommodate one lane of traffic, forcing people going up and down to grapple for control of their footing. No matter the time of day you try to go up or down the stairs, you will always be stuck by some stooge with a gargantuan tumor of a backpack, forcing them to walk like the hipster equivalent of some some mad scientist's assistant.

Sure, one could take the elevator. But that entails cramming yourself into a metal tube next to Bruno, the hapless muscle head who just ran 8 miles and wore his flimsiest tank top for your aromatic pleasure. These should not be my only two options. I should be able to travel on both sides of the building unmolested.

But there's also a problem with the bathrooms (at least the male ones). Hyland's bathrooms have been equipped with super sleek Dyson Air Blade hand dryers. This is all well and good. The problem is that they have been positioned on the wall adjacent to the door. This means less than a foot. Anytime anyone is drying their hands and someone enters, a strange soggy-handed shuffle must be engaged in. People are squeezing past each other in the most intimate of settings. Some people don't even wash their hands. I don't want to bump into those people. Keep those people away from me.

This could easily be avoided by moving a dryer directly across from the door instead of next to it. At least then one would have their back turned to the door. Or perhaps by removing a sink and putting a dryer in its place. Why are there 3 sinks but only 2 dryers to begin with? This leaves someone waiting awkwardly to dry their hands. Why not have 2 of each? Someone would still have to wait TO wash their hands, but that's better than waiting with damp hands, is it not? I feel like an idiot standing there with dripping hands. You should, too. Everyone looks like an idiot waiting for a dryer. No one knows what to do. You can't put your hands in your pockets - they're wet. There's no getting around it. This is a problem.

Better yet, why not have regular towels available, too? After all, there are large garbage bins in there. But they're always empty because there are no towels and thus nothing to be thrown in (spare the occasional candy wrapper). Who designed this? Why did $41.5 million dollars result in such a heinous building that clearly takes joy in regularly impeding my day-to-day operations?

There is no excuse. Hyland Hall has a faulty design. Period.


  1. I grew up in a family with 8 kids. My parents were both poor. My father was a mail man and the good people on his mail route knew he had a large family so they gave him used clothes, old coats, gloves and pants.

    Oh how I hated wearing other people's used clothes, sometimes they were the clothes of their dearly departed loved ones. I never warmed to the idea of wearing the old clothes of dead people. As a kid I always thought that they would one day return and claim their clothes. I knew that I would not want to be walking around in the hereafter naked as a jay bird.

    I complained bitterly to my parents until winter arrived and when the cold air hit my ass those used clothes were a godsend. They kept my ass warm during many frigid Chicago winters. So what does all this have to do with Hyland Hall and the bathrooms?

    So now you are complaining about bathrooms in the best academic building on campus. Just look next door at the run down building called Carlson. This, as you know, was the former home of business. Now isn't Hyland, even with the messed up design and bathrooms, better than this dump?

    However, they plan to renovate this dump and stuff the entire L&S faculty in it, perhaps with a giant shoe horn. But like the old used hand me down clothes, this building after renovation is going to be better than what they had before, and they can look out their office windows and see the palatial contours of Hyland Hall. What a view!

    So be thankful young Kenobi. You could be an L&S faculty member headed to Carlson, the hand me down building.

    Off to Mount Doom, Frodor, we have to destroy the ring that rules over them all.

  2. 1)Architects are paid a lot to make shit aesthetically pleasing.
    2)Engineers are paid a lot to make shit properly/efficiently working.
    3)Ergonomists are paid (something?) to make shit well-suited for the interactive human.
    All three together and what do you get?
    A cluster-fuck of a building. But guess what? It happens all over in just about every professional building that ever gets built by humans. There are always conflicting interests between architects, engineers, and ergonomists (ergonomists' interests are valued the least it seems, and since the problems between the architects and engineers are already pretty big, ergonomists would just complicate the mess, so their interests get put on the back burner more often). Pairing the architect's desire for a certain image/design of windows, doors, halls, lighting, ceilings, etc, with the engineer's need for a certain setup of pipes, wires, vents, walls, support columns, etc, typically results in structural conflicts. Working around these conflicts is what leads to ergonomic failures (recall the "decorative" slab of concrete that killed a person last summer after it fell from a parking garage due to being structurally unsound: Read the article). Unfortunately, architects and engineers are highly valued, and it's difficult (and probably expensive) to solve problems after ergonomics is factored in, so the people who end up using the building the most just get the shaft.
    Bottom line: Stop complaining and be thankful the narrow stairs or ill-placed hand dryers don't kill you like the concrete slab of a parking garage. Also, (and this goes for everyone) be aware of and avoid stupid, overpaid architects when adding a new building anywhere, and most importantly, never sacrifice practicality, efficiency, and/or safety for mere looks.

  3. Note regarding the 12:06 comment -
    Hover over where it says, "Read the article" and you'll see it is an actual link to the article, it's just not highlighted.
    That is all.

  4. Yeah, it is a fucked up design but what more do you expect, this is Whitewater, not Yale or Harvard. You are on a Chevy campus and expect a Cadilac ride! Besides, based on previous posts, you do not like to attend classes anyway. Do you Whitewater students complain and cry about every damn thing? You don't like this and you don't like that. My head is hurting. I am going to take a nap.