20 August 2012

New year, new tags

One of my favorite things to do leading up to the fall semester is making new door tags for the undergraduate residents I live with.  What made this year's process even more exciting and different was having Marcus to help make them -- not that he hasn't helped in the past, but this time around he is a full-on GRT* instead of a spectator-helper.  Woo!

I was happy to be able to use the random and long-disused supplies I've accumulated over the years in architecture school.  The museum board?  From my stash of model making materials.  The india ink?  From an unopened refill left from my own college days (of yore) when I used to hand-ink drawings on mylar (... those were the days indeed).  All put to good use and finding happy homes.

Color code:
-- left paper strip designates the resident's year
-- right paper strip designates the suite she lives in

This year is also pretty different for another reason: the women for whom we made the door tags live in a completely different part of the dorm.  It was determined at the beginning of the year that I (with Marcus joining me) would be GRTs in the East Tower, moving from my home of two years in the West Tower.  It's a decision that was initially hard to digest, and the reality of it has been on my mind in the past couple weeks of settling into my new apartment and gearing up for the year.  On the one hand, I'm definitely excited to meet all the ladies of 6+7E and to have Marcus join me in making a community (and Tall Man brownies) with them.  It's also bittersweet because I've really grown to love the ladies of 4+5W.  What a mixed bag of emotions...  At least it's good knowing that they'll have great GRTs themselves, and that the space between East and West can be bridged easily.  And there are that many more cool McCormick women to know and bond with.

One thing I've noticed: the boundaries between 'territories' are flexible lines.  We each have a certain 'jurisdiction' of residents in the dorm, but when it comes down to it, the more connections the better the McC experience -- for myself as much as for the ladies who live here.  No one can physically be in two places at once, but we can each be - in some sense - GRTs for everyone.  Sounds cheesy, but somehow it's true.

Hello ladies -- let the new year begin!

(and now I go to bed.)

* GRT = graduate resident tutor

18 August 2012

Students finally able to "duck and cover"

A student and his professor at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem have designed a desk that can withstand 1 tonne of vertical force -- what they call an "earthquake proof table" that students can use to "duck and cover" during an earthquake.

It seems like an interesting concept, especially in developing countries where building construction is often sub-par.  However, the article featured on GOOD suggests that these tables can substitute for the more costly measures of wall reinforcement or reconstructing schools to be more earthquake-resistant.  While I agree that this kind of furniture could save lives and save money in light of more difficult infrastructural and architectural changes, I wonder if it might become a way to not improve construction methods because desks essentially provide the safe roof overhead.

The table is still a pretty great design innovation, in spite of these larger questions of feasibility and intention in the longer run.   It's also certainly creative and makes me rethink what really is part of the build environment that can be leveraged for life safety while being well designed.