Saturday, September 12, 2009
This vaguely disturbing shot is of the interior of one of York University's largest buildings, the infamous (Gilliam-esque? Weberian nightmarish? Ayn Rand's dream of spatial efficiency?) Ross Building, wherein the Linguistics and Languages department (pictured) is located. In other words, this was where I spent a good deal of time during the 12 months in which I worked on my Master's Degree in Linguistics (September 2006-August 2007).
I've always found it ironic that these kinds of blank, uninviting institutional spaces are supposed to support educational success, that they constitute an 'educational environment' (only by virtue of designation, if you ask me). This floor of the Ross building shows a total lack of consideration for the spatial elements of social and scholarly relations; though York in general suffers from a good deal of under-consideration in this area. Even the in building where my current program is housed, which was renovated shortly before I began my Ph.D, the same problems prevail. Not only was this exact uninviting design utilised (a deficit of social space in any area where people are likely to move through it regularly), but the graduate students' area was moved into the basement.
Another example of this under-consideration is that of my weekly teaching assignment last year. This consisted of one 34-person tutorial, fifty minutes long, held in a small lecture theatre with seats arranged in rows facing the front of the room and sloping upward towards the back--all seats bolted to the floor, naturally. How there could be any notion of a room such as this being sufficient for a small group discussion is beyond me, but these are the kinds of issues that may only seem significant to those who end up having to resolve them first-hand.