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April 06, 2006 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-06

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Top left: Law library's green
carpet and natural lighting
make it aesthetically pleasing.
Top right: Rackham lets
in natural sunlight where
in student study rooms.
Bottom left: Mirrors in Rack-
ham give it new dimensions.
Bottom right: Haven Hall
houses the likes of the History
and American Cultures depart-
ments.
SHUBRA OHRI/DAILY

Inside Edition: University interiors that aren't the non

W hen I lived in the dorms, there was
a kid down the hall with the nastiest
couch known to humankind. In the
fall, he found it abandoned on the side of
the road awaiting its final demise. Though
damp with morning dew and ugly as sin,
this kid dragged it up to South Quad's 6th
floor and gave it a new home. Rather than
clean it, he threw a sheet over it, thereby
transforming the "street couch" into "his
couch." When I found him curled up on
this ancient piece of dilapidated furniture,
I would shudder. It would be miraculous
if the couch was actually sanitary; it must
have been home to mice, termites, lice or
even some rare strain of the plague left-
over from the 1300s. One night I asked
him, "How can you stand to sit on that
thing?"
"It's comfortable, man," was his reply.
This condition of comfort cannot be seen
with eyes or heard with ears. Comfort can
only be experienced. Often experiences
surpass other senses, and sometimes they
combine all senses. Basically, an experi-
ence does not solely rely on any obvious
visual features. My hallmate did not want
to be bothered by what was festering under
that thin sheet, so long as the couch con-
formed to his body. Diseases be damned,
he wanted that experience.
Interiors are only about experience.
From the outside, architecture is but a pic-
ture we see from afar. Though a structure
may look externally intriguing, it cannot

It's Over Your Head
touch us or engage us. Our eyes can only cozy ati
see it as they see everything else, thereby This dui
dissolving buildings into the backdrop of peaks it
our daily lives. Yet as we cross the thresh- seating
old of a building's doorway, we are imme- intimacy
diately consumed by the structure, and grandeu
everything we sense is directly related to rium, al
the surfaces that envelope us. the ceil
Experience is feeling the fourth heavi- Without
est carillon in the world shaking my with intr
chair when I'm inside Burton Tower. An way. Lig
experience can be clarity or confusion. glistenin
First realizing that both escalators in the reminds
Duderstadt lobby go up gave me a learn- really is
ing experience, as did getting lost in the an expei
Grad Library's stacks. Our experiences off-putti
can even contradict realities. I experience
the atrium in the Chem building as out- Smith
door space, although it is indoors, and the ham set
diagonal passageway under West Hall as tion, an
an interior space, even though it is an out- provides
door corridor. 1981, the
Interiors that promote unique experi- to not de
ences are becoming rarer, but luckily the With no
University has some interesting spots right of Gunn
here on campus. I suggest four drastically rior. Reg
different locations as starting points to and itsE
try to experience architecture from the place to
inside. light int(
and prop
Rackham Auditorium: Recently reno- studiers
vated by SmithGroup, the 2004 Rack- space. F
ham revival received an AIA architecture is a uni
award. Stately both inside and out, ornate nary bui
furniture and tall ceilings give Rackham a

I

Architecture Din gwall

is an issue at all," Jahanian said.
"For example, in addition to hiring
undergraduates, Intel has hired a large
number of students with advanced
engineering degrees from the University of
Michigan. Arbor Networks' engineering
department has about 50 employees. There
are at least 15 engineers with advanced
master's and Ph. D. degrees.
University data for fiscal year 2001
to fiscal year 2005 supports Jahanian's
position. According to University
Tech Transfer, the office that transfers
University technological discovery to the
commercial market, general invention
disclosures averaged about 11 yinventions
per year, with FY200being the lowest
at 58 and FY2003 the highest at 137.
Invention disclosures in the Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science
department have generally supported
engineering's strengthin technology
transfer, with EECS data following trends
in all years aside from 2005, when there
was adecrease from 79 to 38 disclosures.
Mark Maynard, Marketing Manager of
the University's Tech Transfer division,
could not be reached for comment about
the statistic.
Even as trends show engineering
research is still going strong, the
University will have to address the
concerns of students who leave the school
as undergraduates to pursue entry-level
positions in major corporations as opposed
to performing University research.
Jahanian, although feeling secure with the
current state of research at the University,
believes both the College of Engineering
and its funding sources, such as the federal
government, need to be concerned with
the University's competitiveness as other
countries and institutions gain economic
strength.
"We need to allocate morefellowships
and assistantships to recruit top talent
to graduate programs in science and
engineering." Jahanian said. "There is
no doubt that the federal government
needs to invest more in basic research. A
significant fraction of additional funding
for basic research would be used to train
future scientists and engineers with
advanced degrees; this is crucial to our
economic competitiveness and national
security."
Both Oberheide and Linden place more
blame upon the College of Engineering
itself. "There are not many undergraduate
classes that go into enough depth on a
topic to really capture the bleeding edge of
research," Oberheide said. "So the people
that are interested in those topics only get
exposed to the academic research side of
things if they choose to attend graduate
school."
Oberheide offered his own
recommendation to the College of
Engineering: "1 think more emphasis
on independent study classes where you
might assist a professor with their research
would help generate more interest,
"It sounds bad, but I really haven't
learned that much here from classes. I've
learned most of the stuff outside of class
on my own time, and through work and
research experience," he said.
Linden believes that acquiring top
talent is not as simple as changing
undergraduate classes. "I think that
academia is attractive to a certain, select
group of people, and most people don't
like it 2Linden said. "You want a specific
type of person as an academic, not
necessarily just the smartest. They need to
be committed to research in a way that's
beyond profit-making: Linden thinks the
University is on the right track and offers

a recommendation that is reassuring
to current University methods: "If you
want the research quality to be high, the
University needs to keep doing what it
does best: hire professors at the top of
their field, who will in turn attract the best
graduate students eLinden added that the
University should "keep spending large
amounts of money on constantly keeping
up to date with technological advances,
upgrading facilities so the professors can
do cutting-edge research, which costs
many millions of dollars a year:'
Although a study of the EECS
department may seem too. narrow to
extrapolate to the University as a whole,
general University trends seem to follow
the same pattern as EECS. According to
the University's Annual Research Report
to the regents, research expenditures have
increased every year from 1994 to 2004,
with 2004 being the lowest growth year
(which, according to the report, was any
exception due to a fiscal bubble inthe
University's Institute for Social Research).
Future research expenditure predictions
from the University's Office of the Vice
President for Research seemed positivesmr ana
upon release of its last report.
The EECS department is also closest
to any possible shift due to Internet
operations. In recent years, the softwaref
industry has witnessed multinational
enterprises send entry-level operations
overseas due to the abundance ofh
inexpensive telecommunications
solutions and less expensive labor as well x~
as a volatile employment cycle during the
dot-coin bust of the late 1990s. Graduate
and undergraduate computer science
enrollment, Jahanian said in a phone
interview, has been equally cyclical.
The College of Engineering may
now be in a comfortable position, with a
large number of students attracted to the
program and strong fiscal data supporting
research, but complacency could quickly
shift student priorities to an increasingly
attractive corporate world. As Linden and .
Reddy left for private ventures, it is possible
that money and real-world experience
may move more undergraduates away
from advanced degrees, placing them
in corporate positions more financially3V
lucrative and practical for commercial n.,"""
applications. Meanwhile, as Jahanian
said, the University must work to secure
a greater amount of funding and support
for its research programs to keep itself
in the ranks of elite research universities,
international competitors who offer their
own educational institutions and research
programs. If the University maintains its
high level of support for research from both PHOTO
students and funding institutions, it will ABOVE: Many students use the computers for more than just surfing the web.
continue to help the growth of American BELOW: Jon Oberheide started a web hosting company while still in high schoo
academia as well as the economy overall.

mosphere that commands respect.
plicity of elegance and authority
in the auditorium. The stage and
area are small enough to evoke
;y and large enough to promote
r. When first entering the audito-
1 eyes immediately move toward
ing that ties everything together.
relief, the ceiling radiates outward
ricate patterns of paint guiding its
ghts poke through the ceiling like
ng stars, yet the low ceiling height
us of how near this interior sky
. In all, Rackham Auditorium is
rience of tangible style without any
ng elitist flare.
h Law Library Addition: Rack-
rves experience through decora-
d the underground Law Library
a spatial experience. Opened in
e addition was built below ground
etract from the existing Law Quad.
exterior to consider, the architects
ar Birkerts could focus on the inte-
gardless of the vivid, green carpet
exclusivity, the library is a great
visit. A light well reflects day-
o the entire subterranean structure
vides crazy cantilevers that allow
to appear as if they're floating in
rom anywhere in the library, there
que experience not found in ordi-
ildings built above ground.

Haven Hall: The 2003 addition to
Mason and Haven Halls is far more suc-
cessful than any could have imagined.
Creating a vital link to the Diag through
what was once a back door, the glass prom-
enade provides an experience that every-
one sees as they walk by. At night, when
the dancers use the reflections to perfect
their moves, the hall space becomes per-
formance space. Transparency, spectators,
and voyeurism all make this interior space
an experience to those inside or those just
passing by.
IM Weight Room: As a patron of the
IM Building for many years, I dare you to
look at the 2003 weight room renovation
in a different way. A climbing wall is nice
and the weight room is decent, but imag-
ine what was there before. Seven nasty
squash courts were replaced by an expanse
of open floor punctuated only by columns,
what architects call a free plan. The space
went from specific to general, from modu-
lar to unbound, from cramped to relaxed.
Not originally intended to be a weight
room, the area both looks and feels totally
different from the rest of the building.
Whether visiting for the first time or
the hundredth, next time you inhabit
these spaces, absorb the atmosphere,
consult your feelings, and ask yourself,
"Would I risk getting the plague for this
experience.?'

J

4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 6, 2006

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