Designing the Ideal Grad Lounge

By Josh Sites and Steve Myers

  Introduction

In our inaugural article, Steve Myers and I discuss what we think would be the ideal (and hopefully plausible) graduate student lab and lounge spaces. You’ll find the structure of our articles to be a bit unconventional: we brainstorm the whole thing together, but write sections separately. – Josh This gives us the chance to jump in and comment on each other’s sections.  So this right here is Steve and I’m interjecting.  This style keeps the individual thoughts of our constant discourse which, if you know us, is in all essence constant. – Steve Thanks for reading!

Let’s Actually Do Work in the Lab and Lounge in the Lounge

At present, it’s no secret that not a whole lot of actual work goes on in the grad lab (with the exception of the game design class; +3 constitution to them).  Many of us enter that space with lofty goals of efficiency and achievement.  For me, this only actually happens when the place is empty. I wish I had that discipline. If it’s empty, I just end up doodling on the whiteboard.

With the merger upon us, there may be an opportunity to influence the design of our space in Franklin Hall.  These are our thoughts on how the lounge should be.

The Grad Lounge: It’s Colonel Mustard with the Candlestick

When I think lounge, I think Clue; windows, couches, nooks and crannies.  I think of my Grandmother’s sitting room, a space designed to entertain and communicate. The frame of reference in my mind when envisioning the space was Mother Bears. I love the angular, wooden tables and benches. It’s simple and inviting. It feels apart from the rest of reality, because it’s visually distinct.

The lounge should be a space where we want to go and spend time.  It should be a safe haven for grads to relax and socialize. When I talk to Ted Jamison-Koenig about heavy metal or to Niki Fritz about Wisconsinites, I want to be able to face them and not have to yell across the room over all the diligent people. It really is hard to doodle on the whiteboard with all that commotion. 

Bare minimum, the space needs couches and/or armchairs that face one another.  And I think it would only make sense to have a TV or projector setup that students can plug their laptops into to show projects, or honestly even just veg out a bit.  There should be power outlets everywhere. Let me echo this: EVERYWHERE.

A dinner table, conference table or restaurant booth would also be one of the spaces for a group.  Next to this would be a coffee (tea) station.  With a small sink, we could keep a collection of community mugs for different people to handwash and use quickly without having to exit the lounge. Which would double the indignation when someone doesn’t wash their mug.

These are our thoughts.  What are yours?

For the full version of this post, click here.

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