Wednesday, December 23, 2009
In less level terrain, it’s much more difficult. I lived in Pittsburgh near a street that went around hill in such a way that it ended up being parallel to itself on a map. When I lived in rural Vermont, I returned home one morning rather than proceeding on to work because a semi had tipped over blocking the two lane main road I used to get there. It’s not like you can just go around the block when you live in a bucolic little place like Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. Later that day I calculated it would have been about a 110-mile detour (literally over hill and dale) had I not waited until they had righted that toppled rig to continue that day’s journey to my place of employment.
That’s why “You can’t get there from here” is a New England expression and not one that would have had its roots in a place like Chicago. (To say it correctly, it needs to be said with that strange and wonderful New Englander desecration of the spoken English word where “there” and “here” each has two syllables, as in “ther-ah” and “her-ah”.)
If you’ve been reading the visions for the East and West Sides of this campus in the Phase 2 Report of the Campus Master Planning project, you would agree that even normally nasal, native-speaking Chicagoans might be saying “You can’t get ther-ah from her-ah.” Looking at all the buildings in our consultants’ preferred plans, it would seemingly require Bill and Melinda Gates both taking vows of poverty and bequeathing all of their jointly-held fortune plus all of their future earnings in perpetuity to UIC to implement those plans completely. We should only be so lucky.
The consultant team would rush to their own defense and tell us that there is really no expectation that all or even most of these buildings will ever be built. A Master Plan allows the campus to have a broad vision of the future to utilize when planning or discussing individual major capital projects in the years to come. Or to help put a developer’s proposal into a larger context. Or to show potential donors where their largesse would have the most beneficial long term effect.
Those consultant types would also point to the types of projects they are recommending in the short term which would not require significant capital investment, meaning they might actually be implementable in our lifetimes – projects that would not require Mr. and Mrs. Gates to move to a communal farm and live off the land. As I so eloquently ridiculed in my November 6th blog, these are being called "Immediate Impact Projects", a misnomer indeed in these economic times where even projects only needing relatively little capital can not get funded.
However, by having the “ther-ah” agreed upon now, we will be able to move more confidently from the “her-ah” by implementing, in the next three to five years, small projects that have a positive impact on the look and feel of the campus and begin our journey toward those visions of the future.
Question of the Week: Where could we best invest a few precious dollars in the next few years to improve the campus?
Until next year…
Friday, December 18, 2009
Speaking of fashion, after decades of personal observation, I have concluded, without a doubt, that “frigid fashionistas” is an oxymoron. Folks who are overly concerned with how they look stay inside or head south when the mercury in the thermometer takes a tumble. It is, I dare say, impossible to look cool while attempting to keep warm when it’s cold outside. (The one exception may be certain ski outfits, but they’re appropriate for ski resorts in the mountains, not the flatlands of Chicago.) What the fashionistas don’t realize is that nobody cares what others look like when it’s freezing because everybody is freezing; everybody is in the same bitterly cold boat.
I raise this because the West Side of campus has been having a few issues dealing with the cold weather because of problems with the power plant’s ability to generate steam. It was a great example of how the only time we appreciate what we usually enjoy (without giving a second thought to what it takes to make that happen) is when something goes wrong and we have to go without.
BTW: The Master Plan consultants have included a site for a new, modern, energy-efficient power plant in the preferred alternative for the West Side in their Phase 2 Report. (http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/Documents/Phase2/Phase_2_Report.pdf)
Other highlights of the vision for the West Side include:
Ø A “signature” building spanning Taylor at Ashland and Taylor to provide a distinctive academic “gateway” to the West Side of campus.
Ø A “greenway” extending from MBRB west to Damen.
Ø A new hospital fronting on Roosevelt and a new open, green “campus core” where the hospital sits now.
Ø Street closures and shortenings to make the West Side more “pedestrian-friendly” and to give it a more “campus feel”.
Question of the Week: Could I have used any more quotation marks?
Until next Wednesday…
Friday, December 11, 2009
On the other hand, the UIC East Side Story continues to be written and the preferred alternative vision (and the runner-ups) of what it could be like in the future has now been posted to the Master Plan website. Check out the complete Phase 2 report at http://www.uic.edu/master_plan/Documents/Phase2/Phase_2_Report.pdf
There may be no happy comrades singing at the top of their lungs while driving tractors and sweeping factory floors in this East Side Story, but there’s some pretty interesting other stuff to be found in there, nonetheless.
Ø What would the East Side of campus look like if University Hall were taken down and replaced by a tower on the east side of Halsted?
Ø How about a communal water fountain in the new “Peoples' Plaza” in the campus core?
Ø Are you tired of all the hours you’ve spent in those windowless classrooms in Lecture Centers B and E? See how demolition of these two eyesores could yield an expanded area for the Peoples' Plaza!
Ø What would UIC be like without BSB?
Ø Who'd a thunk it – Student Housing next to SES?
Ø Quo Vadis, Ye Olde Student Services Building (and former retail mall)?
Question of the Week: What do you think, comrade? Does the preferred East Side alternative work for you?
Until next Friday…
Friday, December 4, 2009
There’s been a lot of talk about turkeys lately thanks in large part to the recent holiday. Around my house, there has been a lot of post-Thanksgiving talk on the subject as well. Specifically, the talk has centered on what we’re going to do with all the leftover turkey now aging in our refrigerator. Since the great Thanksgiving Day feast which featured the grand old bird (with “all the fixin’s”), we have now had cold turkey sandwiches, hot open face turkey sandwiches (twice), turkey tetrazzini, turkey casserole, and turkey melts with cranberry sauce on Boboli pizza crusts. Help!
Don’t get me wrong. I like turkey and I love turkey sandwiches. But I think you can indeed have too much of a good thing. This may be the reason for another oft-used meaning of the word (lower case “t”) “turkey” – as in “a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser” (dictionary.com).
This meaning could certainly apply to the 2009 edition of the Chicago Bears. “Turkey” could also apply to a Broadway play that opens, is panned by the critics and closes down almost immediately. It could most definitely apply to the flying saucer / mother ship re-design of the home stadium of the aforementioned-already-well-into-hibernation Bears.
A few blogs ago, I mentioned seeing a wild fox on this campus. I dare say we see a lot more turkeys than foxes on campus. Not wild turkeys. (Not Wild Turkey, either.) Turkeys that were constructed for various and sundry purposes and which now find themselves somehow magically deemed appropriate to be incorporated into the UIC campus space inventory.
Perhaps, in their present usages, it would be more fitting to call each of them not a turkey, but a turducken, a multi-fowled concoction composed of a turkey stuffed with a duck which in turn is stuffed with a chicken – something that certainly isn’t now what it started out its life as.
We currently have on campus:
an (how can I say this delicately?) undergarment factory (CUPPA Hall)
a staff apartment building (Marshfield Avenue Building)
a tuberculosis sanitarium (Applied Health Sciences Building)
a bank (Roosevelt Road Building)
a shopping center (Student Services Building)
a nurses’ residence (Medical Center Administration Building) and
several former medical buildings of various types (Clinical Sciences Building, Disability, Health, and Social Policy Building, and the School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute, among others)
In its previous incarnations, what is now called the Human Resources Building was once the home of the College of Pharmacy, which was supplanted by the Illini Union, and then the Administrative Services Building.
Finally, until very recently, we even had the former St. Mary's Convent, shown on the list of campus buildings as the School of Public Health – East, but, thankfully, it was torn down several months ago.
I’m sure these re-purposed (isn’t that a great consultant-speak word?) structures are not the only turduckens or straight out turkeys sitting around campus, but far be it from me to comment further. It’s your turn.
Question of the Week: What turkeys / turduckens have you had to live / work / learn / teach in at UIC and what makes them qualify as full-fledged, fowl-ish facilities?
Until next Friday…