Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Delayed gratification is overrated.

After this latest painful deadline with Pomme de Terre, I went to Alex, my big boss. Alex is one of the owners of Design Associates and is licensed to practice in ten states. Each of the owners has their specialties in design, and Alex's is healthcare. I can't recall the last time he did anything else. Oh wait--our office did his house not too long ago. That was a nice pad, for sure. But other than that, he only does healthcare in our office, so I work for him.

"Any word on the Mendwell Center, Alex?" I asked him. He ran his hand through his salt-and-pepper, devil-may-care hair and sighed.

"The owners are still looking for a site," he replied. "I think they're close, but they just need a site. I'll call them today and see what's happening."


Wheatlands doesn't require more than about five to eight hours a week these days. Pomme de Terre is leaving me so wiped out physically and mentally every day that it feels like I've been riding around all day in the tumbler portion of a concrete truck. I spent today fixing a few departments, trying to find space for a few of the rooms that hadn't yet been given space. Space planning is the weirdest thing: a list of rooms and their square footages seems so easy to make fit in a given space, but it's a lot harder than it looks. Sometimes the list of spaces doesn't take into account the amount of space that a department needs to get around between the list of rooms. For example, most administrative areas only need hallways that are about 5'-0" to 6'-0" wide (depending on the number of rooms leading into the hall) to get between offices, but building codes require that hospitals have hallways and corridors that are no less than 8'-0" wide. That's a big-ass hallway, and it takes up more space than you'd think.

Then, there's structure to think about. In most houses, the exterior walls and a couple of interior walls support the roof and the floors above the ground, no problem. But in large buildings, like seven-story hospitals, steel or concrete columns are needed for support. Once the structure is in place, then one is required by code to spray fireproofing onto the columns to keep them from deforming from the heat in a big fire. Then, one has to cover the columns in studs and drywall to make them look pretty. THEN, one has to make sure that a person (or a person with a cart) can navigate around the column, or make sure that the column doesn't stick into a corridor or an exit passageway, or.... You get my drift. So once the structure is in place and the design conforms to all applicable codes, suddenly I can't get all of the rehab center's administrative offices in unless I make them all smaller than they asked for in their list of spaces (called a program). And that makes me a sad panda.

So, I guess it's more space planning tomorrow and waiting hopefully for MCRI to kick off. I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard to be that way when you're exhausted and annoyed.


The Wandering Author said...

All the details of your work are pretty interesting. I never thought about some of these things. I hope you keep posting, and I hope you find some way to keep the idiots off your back. (They seem to exist in every profession, don't they?)

The Wandering Author said...

I'm sorry; it's late, and the penny dropped after my first comment. You moderate comments, so I can ask a question, and if you don't want to be put on the spot, you can ignore it. I won't be insulted; I know this is a real hot potato. I didn't ask at first because I didn't want to put you on the spot.

It was your mention of fireproofing to keep the columns from deforming in a fire that got me thinking. I'm sure you've heard some of the questions surrounding the three building collapses on 9/11. Do you have an opinion you don't mind airing?

Sorry if the potato's too hot. As I say, I won't be insulted if this just disappears... I just don't know enough on the subject to have any idea what to think.

Sarge said...

You neglected to mention one of the things that makes space planning so challenging/entertaining/maddenning/etc... *adjacencies*. That wonderful practical/political battle that dictates who gets the office with the big window *and* is near the executive loo, while someone else get's the closet at the end of the dead-end corridor, which also happens to be the office of the person that does the most work and needs the most workspace. In a hospital, one department has to be adjacent to another, not too far from yet another, and as far as practically possible from yet another. Structure, by comparisson, seems like child's play.

Miss Kitty said...

All this makes me glad that I majored in English.

Still, though, I have students who are just like the nincompoops you work with.

BaxterWatch said...

Wait - did I miss something? Are you saying you're looking for MORE work?? Or just a different project? Because if its the first, then we need to have an intervention. Right. Now.

re:GT c/o98 - Girl, we walked together! How wild is that? In all the internets that we would have bumped into each other? My mom almost boycotted graduation because of Newt as the speaker. She's an english professor (retired) like your sister, who I love reading (hiya, Miss Kitty)

faded said...

When the project was programmed, were areas assigned to each function? After that was done and the areas were summed up did anyone add any space to account for the fact that the gross area in a building can be between 15% and 25% solid. This would be stuff like walls, columns, chaise spaces and the like? This might account for some of the space shortages on the Potato Head project.

Sarah said...

IN LOVE with this blog.
reading it gives me a 2 minute distraction from studio per day.

so true....

Mile High Pixie said...

Wow, lots of comments! Let's see if I can respond:

Wandering Author: Once again, you ask a question, the response to which must preempt my previous idea for a post....

Sarge and Faded: Adjacencies are another can of worms to deal with. The Treatment Room must be near the PT Gym but kinda near the Subwaiting but the manager's office needs to be in a quieter place.... Adjancencies add a whole new dimension to making rooms fit in a space. Added to this is that for some reason, master plans always seem to account for not enough circulation space, nor do they account for the fact that each floor in a seven-story tower loses space to mechanical and electrical spaces and shafts. The spaces need to stack from floor to floor, and the shafts need to be open on at least three sides (not backed up to other shafts).... I was attempting to simplify the problem, but now Faded has given me yet another post to do after I address Wandering Author's concern.

Miss Kitty: I too work with children. They're called architects.

Baxterwatch: NOOO! I don't want MORE work, I just want different work that makes sense and isn't utterly confusing like Pomme de Terre. And I managed to ignore Newt during his speech--I listened to 99X on my Walkman, which I hid underneath my graduation gown.

Sarah: Thank you, a thousand times thank you. A compliment from a student in the trenches is worth its weight in diamonds.