Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to our panopticon

Things are quiet in our new building right now -- classes won't be in there until next semester -- so I took the opportunity to take a few pictures.

The following are pictures of the "town square" (or some other dumb name for the center of the building) of our new digs at RBU, including a close up view of one of the classrooms with the lights on:

I've got a suggestion for a new name:

And here's a picture of my office from outside its bars, er, window:

On the inside I've hung curtains on a tension rod, which I can close when I'm working and not having office hours, and open when I am having office hours:

Actually, I don't entirely mind the window, since it means when it gets noisy around me and I need the door closed, but I'm still meeting with a student, the window still leaves things open to view.

But the classrooms, I imagine, are going to take some getting used to.


Bardiac said...

Wow, it does look like a high end ultra modern prison!

And from the view you gave, it doesn't look like there's nearly enough board space. I need at least a wall of board space!

But I'm jealous. Our building was built in late 70s brick ugliness hell. But at least I can see the outdoors from my window, and occasionally get treated to a bald eagle flying by.

My furniture is from the 50s (down to my rotary phone), and my office looks about 1/3rd the size of yours.

Institutional architecture tends to suck, doesn't it?

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Having taught in a fishbowl classroom many times before, I say from experience that the teacher adjusts very quickly (that is, learns to ignore completely the parade of passing bodies), but the students never do.

Anonymous said...

So clearly the architect didn't talk to any faculty before designing that! Aside from the fishbowl aspect, I would imagine that the noise level from that high open space is going to be awful - and harder to shut out. The room I teach most of my classes in has a window wall overlooking a campus walkway, and that is distracting enough for students (especially when they tear up part of the walk during my class!) I think Jeffrey is right that there will be a problem keeping students focused on the class.

Anonymous said...

I think what I always think when I see an exciting new building. Paintball! This is fundamental to the male psyche.

Not sure Foucault is Newfangled enough to get naming rights. Also, one of your colleagues (uh, "Herman", I guess?) had an extensive Foucault-was-a-fraud-and-a-sociopath rant, as he does about so many things, so you'd face some internal opposition. But these are the battles worth fighting!

Dr. Virago said...

Bardiac - You're right that there's not enough board space. In the other recently redone classroom building, I frequently have to erase. BUT, at least this time someone got the message to them to put the projector screen *next* to the board instead of overlapping with the board. In that other classroom building you can't use the board and the screen at the same time!

JJC and Anon -- Well, at least the desks face forward and all the windows are behind them, except in the case of small groups or sitting in circles.

And Anon -- no, they really screwed up on all sorts of ways we work. The secretaries were absolutely furious about their space. And maybe I'll do a post on the stupid energy-saving motion-control lights that go off if you don't move around enough. You know, like if you're reading.

Dedalus -- Paintball! I love paintball! Is there a good place around here that isn't full of scary militia-wannabes? Do you play often? (Clearly, either I have a male psyche or else it's not just a guy thing.)

As for Foucault, well, I didn't have a "Jeremy Bentham Place" sign, and anyway, this is less like Bentham's design than Foucault's use of it as metaphor (however historically problematic).

And "Herman" -- ha! That's a weird rant coming from him, though.

Sisyphus said...

Ahhh. Looking at your lovely gothic pics I can see why you'd be disgruntled at moving into Chez Mondrian, but I kinda like it. Hopefully everyone will adjust.

And motion-sensing lights? My brother sent me that Dilbert cartoon, you know, where they pay an English major to walk around and flap his arms to prevent the lights going off, when I first went to grad school. Sigh. Brothers.

Guess at least we'll know there's a niche for our grads to fill in the workplace though!

Dr. Virago said...

Sis -- Hey, I was just comparing it to Mondrian to a colleague last night! (And then we had a discussion of how Mondrian is supposed to be pronounced. Do you know?) Actually, I kind of like it, too. I just like making fun of it because, well, come on -- it *does* resemble either a prison, a mall, or an airport. Also, it is unfinished, and yet we had to move into it in the middle of the semester. WTF?

As for that Dilbert strip, I don't think I'd seen that one. I must find a copy of it and put it up in the office!!!

medievalkarl said...

how Mondrian is supposed to be pronounced.
Oh thank god I've been doing it right. Just checked.

My building, built in the 20s or 30s I think, reminds me of nothing so much as my Junior High school, built in the same era and I'm convinced on the same plan. Needless to say the associations are not pleasant.