Vagabond Shark

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Archive for June, 2007

University Housing 2.0

Posted by Peter W on June 13, 2007

I haven’t moved in yet, but so far I’m not impressed with the student housing options at PSU.

Its not that its worse than at other schools — as far as I can tell they are all just as bland.

But couldn’t it be better? Check this out –

The MIT Simmons Hall looks both amazing and crazy at the same time (see architect’s page, photos, more info). Each dorm room has nine windows so you can do things like open the windows at the bottom and top to increase ventilation, and there are what look like giant holes in the side of the building, and cave like things bringing light into multiple stories, and really pretty staircases. Some of the cave like things even stick out into the hallways, which may be annoying if trying to squeeze lots of people through, but must make for an interesting experience. Mainly the residence hall just seems cool and exciting, and it is one of many cool new buildings being built at MIT. I wish I could say that buildings at PSU were that cool and exciting.

Looking around online, I didn’t find much else in the way of cool university housing, but Maple Hill Residence Hall in Arkansas looks nice. It isn’t amazing like the Simmons Hall, but it has a nice old mansion kind of appearance. I also like that it has a fireplace lounge on each floor – I think that adds to the “big old house” feel of it.

Apparently colleges are actually quite interested in Housing 2.0… so much so that the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International put up $25,000 prize money in a competition to design the next great dorm. The winner was flexDorm, according to this press release:

Stackable rooms, fold-out beds, and a one-piece sink and toilet are just some of the features that will be included in the residence hall of the future according to design concepts submitted by Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) of Boston, Massachusetts. These innovative ideas, along with technological advances such as a smart-media wall and glass walls with adjustable transparencies, earned the company the jury’s grand prize for best design…

But $25,000 is nothing compared to the $25-billion higher education construction industry. With schools spending that much, hopefully some of them are working on really great buildings.

So back to housing, what would make a really great Dorm 2.0?
Here’s some ideas for things that most dorms might not have:

  • a mini patio or deck for each room, or a shared terrace
  • window seats
  • lots of nice lighting
  • soundproof walls
  • quite study rooms and lounges
  • game rooms
  • exercise rooms
  • computer labs
  • movie room
  • nice furniture already in the rooms (optionally)
  • built in sound systems
  • wood floors
  • kitchens with mini fridge, stove, oven
  • high speed internet ports or wireless access
  • mixed uses including classrooms and businesses (like cafes) on the ground floor
  • sustainable features like a green roof with community garden, energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting, and recovering rainwater for use in the building (PSU’s Epler Hall is a pretty awesome example actually)

Posted in architecture, cool ideas, design, school | Leave a Comment »

Kudos to the Hillsboro Police

Posted by Peter W on June 12, 2007

It seems the Hillsboro Police are pretty bike and pedestrian friendly these days. They responded appropriately when I was hit by a car, and they are working on bike and pedestrian safety projects.

A couple weeks ago I was hit by a car while riding on 185th when the driver swerved to make a right hand turn on Evergreen. The police got there and investigated for a while then cited the driver for “failure to yeild to a bicyclist”.

And according to this recent article in the Hillsboro Argus,

In partnership with Oregon Department of Transportation, the HPD [Hillsboro Police Department] Bike Safety Program is committed to teaching bicycle safety to our community. Safety Town is an obstacle course that simulates a small town and includes real street signs and other typical riding challenges.

At these events each child will receive a helmet, reflective stickers for better visibility and educational workbooks and hand-outs. Lessons are given on hand signals, street signs and how to properly fit a helmet. A bicycle is required.

I’ve noticed HPD bike safety events at Intel Ronler Acres campus like this before, and can’t help but wonder if there is an bike advocate working at Intel who helped set this up.

Although not specifically bike related, the BTA posted that Hillsboro Police have been awarded a grant for pedestrian safety operations. (Of course, it still boggles me why police departments need special grants for those projects – it seems like ticketing drivers that don’t stop for pedestrians at cross walks would raise enough cash to pay for the operation!)

Anyway, Kudos to the Hillsboro Police!

Posted in bikes, washington county | Leave a Comment »

West Union near 185th to get bike lanes

Posted by Peter W on June 6, 2007

A 2.2 million dollar project will raise part of West Union by 5 feet so it doesn’t get flooded yearly, and of course they’ll add bike lanes and sidewalks: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in bikes, transportation, washington county | Leave a Comment »