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September 29, 2005 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-29

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RANOSTUDENT IJTERVIEW
Random knows all kinds of chippendales
By Jeremy Davidson|/ Daily Staff Reporter

3B The Daily
Juan Cole
about the

Dish
talks
Middle

The Venturi Effect

It's Over Your Head

I

Architecture Column

East and blogging.

3B The List
Weekend happen-
ings around town.
4B Taking Care
The history of
Ypsilanti State
Hospital,
6B Book Excerpt
"'Paul Welistone:
The Life o a Pas-
sionate Progres-
sive," by Bill Lofy,
8B House Party
The tradition,
atosphere and
feeling ofFoot-
ball Saturday.
12B Point/Counterpoint
How good is
Picks?
13B ShopEatDrink
Earthen Jar.
14B Columnists
Brooke Snyder
and Forest Casey
discuss sex and
technology.
15B Building Up
Austin Ding-
wall looks at
the University's
architecture.

andom: Hello?
The Michigan Daily: Hi,
my name's Jeremy Davidson.
a reporter for The Michigan
Daily, you've been selected to do
the random student survey for our
magazine.
R: And the survey is?
TMD: It's this production we
do every Thursday where we flip
through the student directory and
the first person who we see in the
directory, we call them and ask
them a bunch of random questions.
R: I didn't know I was in the
directory
TMD: Oh, well ...
R: I'm not in the directory. How
could I be in the directory? What
directory?
TMD: The University of Michi-
gan directory.
R: What school am I listed
with?
TMD: The University of Michi-
gan - Ann Arbor.
R: I know that, but what school
am I listed with? Which college?
TMD: It doesn't say. It just says
(your name) and my finger landed
on it.
R: Well you ask me the ques-
tions, and I'll decide if I want to
answer.
TMD: All right, so are you an
undergraduate student or a gradu-
ate student?
R: That depends on what semes-
ter you ask me.
TMD: OK, this semester.
R: I'm all of the above. This
semester I'm an undergrad. Next
semester I'm a grad student.
TMD: So what are you studying
here?-
R: This semester, psychology.
TMD: And what about next
semester?

R: Uhhhhhh, I'm not sure yet,
I've gotta finish this semester.
TMD: Are you planning any
cool experiments for psychology?
R: I'm planning lots of cool
experiments, but they're propri-
etary so I can't tell you what they
are.
TMD: Ah, that makes sense.
Actually, that was going to be my
next question.
R: Wait, can you hold on? Some-
one's clicking in. It's probably my
mom.
TMD: Yeah, sure.
(about 20 seconds later)
R: Hello? So you're a student
reporter, and you found my name
in the school directory even though
I'm not registered except as a non-
degree student.
TMD: I guess that's what it says
here ... it tells me your phone num-
ber and your address.
R: Are you on the online, direc-
tory?
TMD: No, I'm looking at the
physical directory. It's like a book-
let ...
R: There's a booklet?!?
TMD: Yeah, it's a big book with
everyone's names
R: And it's from this year, it says
2004/2005?
TMD: Yeah.
R: This is important to me
because I shouldn't be listed, as
you've come to find out. Are you
looking at a 2003/2004 directory?
TMD: No, this is definitely a
2004/2005 directory.
R: And I'm listed?
TMD: Yup.
R: That's interesting. And in a
hard copy directory. Do you think
I could come by some time, not
today, but could I come by and
maybe pick up a copy of the direc-
tory you're looking at?
TMD: Yeah, I mean, you could.
I think they give them out all over
campus.
R: OK, so you're a registered
student? Let's go on with the

questions. Yes, I'm doing many
cool experiments, but they're all
proprietary, meaning I own the
experiments, they're intellectual
property, etc.
TMD: So what have you been
doing so far this year in addition
to school?
R: Feeding animals in my neigh-
borhood.
TMD: Oh yeah? What kind of
animals do you feed?
R: Uh, squirrels, chipmunks,
rabbits, muskrats ...,
TMD: Wow, you've seen musk-
rats?
R: Yeah, you know, just anything
along the Dixborough corridor.
TMD: So do you go by yourself,
or do you go with other people?
R: I usually go by myself because
they come up to my back door.
TMD: Have you heard of the
group called "Students for putting
the fear back in Michigan squir-
rels?
R: "Students for putting the fear
back in Michigan squirrels?"
TMD: Yeah, I think they're
too intimidated by the squirrels
because they grow so huge.
R: Students are intimidated by
squirrels?
TMD: Yeah, because they're so
big. They're like lapdogs.
R: They must not live in my
neighborhood. My squirrels are
tiny.
TMD: Well they're pretty big
down here.
R: I used to live in a place called
Squirrel Hills, so I'm used to squir-
rels of all sizes.
TMD: Wow.
R: I'm serious. I really did live
in a place called Squirrel Hills.
TMD: That's excellent. Did
you ever watch that show "Chip 'n
Dale, Rescue Rangers?"
R: Nope.
TMD: That was about two chip-
munks. They went on all kinds of
adventures together.
R: "Chip 'n Dale," what is it

called?
TMD: "Rescue Rangers."
R: Chippendale Rescue Rang-
ers? I haven't seen that show, what
station is it on?
TMD: Disney Channel I think.
You know, Dale had a red nose and a
Hawaiian shirt, and they used to go
on all kinds of crazy adventures ...
R: Oh, I know Chip 'n Dale.
Different kind of Chippendale
though.
R: You don't know who the other
chippendales are, I take it?
TMD: I've seen the Chris Farley
skit on "Saturday Night Live."
R: Ah, well just to fill you in,
if you want to include this in your
article, Chippendales are some
dancers from Beverly Hills, Cali-
fornia. You might want to check
that out some time.
TMD: Right ...
R: Chippendales is also very
expensive reproduction Louis XV
furniture.
TMD: Wow, I didn't know that.
R: Lots of chippendales. I'm
familiar with all chippendales I
guess you could say.
TMD: Just like you're familiar
with all squirrels, right?
R: Well, I don't know that many
squirrels. I know the ones in my
backyard and the ones in- Squirrel
Hill ... I used to know a few squir-
rels in Arizona, too, in the Grand
Tetons, so I guess I know all the
squirrels, too.
TMD: That's impressive. All
right, well look for this on Thurs-
day.
R: OK, bye.

By Austin Dingwall

t nowhere else but a college
campus can you find such a
lash of architectural style
trying to meld into a collective
whole. When planned, these dis-
tirctive buildings can act wonder-
fully together. Anyone sitting on a
shady spot on the Diag lawn can
attest to the magnificent enclo-
sure provided by a hodgepodge
of architectural flavors. When
unplanned, the ideas of separate
architects come together like oil
and vinegar. Just one glance at
the bend that turns East Huron
Street to Washtenaw Avenue will
shed light on to what I am talking
about. Neither pedestrian-friendly
nor attractive, the space between
the Life Sciences Institute and the
new Biomedical Science Research
Building is just plain uncomfort-
able. It is kind of like salmon and
chocolate, each good in their own
respect yet positively absurd in
combination. The University hired
an acclaimed architecture firm,
Venturi, Scott Brown and Asso-
ciates, to try and sort out these
ingredients before they became a
problem, but what they got instead
was a giant pot of stew.
In 1997, then University Presi-
dent Lee Bollinger handed the
campus master plan over to
VSBA, and for good reason. They
are the pioneers of architectural
information dissection and have
recently had success on many
college campuses. Robert Venturi
and Denise Scott Brown are the
icons of the architectural post-
modernism that took place in the
'70s. Still revered as guides for a
major revolution in architectural
thought and criticism, their work
has become virtually invisible
- even when it is everywhere.
Here at the University, the Ventu-
ri Effect is not some physics law
about tunneling air; it is the fact
that everything VSBA tried to
accomplish for th campus ends
up thwarted.
This phenomen - occurred
during the 1998 renovation to
Michigan Stadium. In typical
postmodern fashion, the Michigan
fight song was erected on the sta-
dium rim - dubbed "The Halo"
- along with cartoonish pictures
of football helmets as symbols of
Michigan pride. Despised by most
fans and patrons, it was quickly
taken down. Not that surprising
due to the fact that postmodernism
has been dead for decades, but it
was a sign of things to come for
Venturi at Michigan.
Dare to walk through from the

Power Center to Palmer Field and
you will find the work of VSBA.
Even without the hazardous con-
struction, one would never guess
that VSBA had actually planned
that space. The Life Sciences com-
plex cowers over the sidewalk and
crowds pedestrians into oncoming
traffic. Bridges seem offer solace
from the traffic but finding where
they start is like finding the end
of a rainbow. With no pedestrian
crosswalk, the road curvature
makes it lethal to even think of
going anywhere but down a side-
walk that really goes to nowhere
that anyone would want to go. I
never would have thought a shiny,
pink building fagade would actu-
ally scare me - but it does. Even
when driving, the new traffic sig-
nal makes it a cumbersome route.
VSBA was hired to develop a
campus plan and had focused on
that specific area to bridge central
campus to the medical campus. Yet
with all their investigations and
site-plan diagramming, something
went awry. There was already left-
over space between the two hubs,
and VSBA tried to extract elements
into the space and create vibrant
interstitial areas. By considering
everything from the sports field
behind Alice Lloyd and Mosher
Jordan to the roadway's chain link
fence, VSBA's joint effort with the
architects at Smith Group to create
a life sciences complex as connec-
tor became muddled. The ingredi-
ents were just not right to make a
delicious souffle, and forcing the
matter just made it worse.
Across the street, the new Pol-
shek Partnership's design of the
Biomedical Science Research
Building adds more confusion to
the mix. Slapping VSBA's ideals
of symbol and diagram in the face,
the Polshek building is a cool,
contemporary vision of technol-
ogy and style. Standing alone, it
has all the right elements: state-of-
1i--art double layer glass fagade
the anal system, ultra-morphic
glass aenihetic and a Gehry-esque
undulating auditorium. Yet all
that architectural style only faces
one very strange direction. Vis-
ible solely to 25 mph traffic and
people playing ultimate Frisbee at
Palmer Field, the building's glam-
our seems unwarranted for its
audience. The front is hidden from
the rest of campus by the uninter-
esting Life Sciences Building and
University power plant, and its vis-
ible, plain rear faces the residen-
tial valley heading toward North
Campus. Again, the intentions of

FOREST CASEY/Daily
The Biomedical Science Research Building on East Huron Street is
not conducive to pedestrian traffic.

VSBA go unseen as the connec-
tion between Central Campus, and
the medical campus is still unreal-
ized and actually worsened.
There is one more chance for
VSBA to make a perceptible differ-
ence on Michigan's campus. With
their master campus plan, VSBA
made evaluations and recommen-
dation options as part of what they
called a Law School Architectural
Programming Study. Although it
is more possible for a more digest-
ible public space in the Law Quad,
I doubt that VSBA's suggestions

will have any impact on the final
design. Rockstar architect Renzo
Piano has taken over as the archi-
tect of the Law School expansion,
and he isn't likely going to listen
to anyone, especially once fellow
postmodernist colleagues Robert
Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
The Michigan Venturi Effect will
probably continue, but no one will
notice.
Austin wants VSBA to design
his dream house. Share your
thought on architecture with
him at adingwal@umich.edu.

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