Friday, April 24, 2009

Prepare Yourself


So, I'm approximately a week away from finishing up this capstone project. This weekend I'll run through the floorplans I've created and pick the best ones, then start on the write up for CTR. Our project abstract was due (via email) today, so here's that:

UT’s Center for Transportation Research library is set to move its facilities in spring 2010. The goal of this project was to compile a space planning and moving guidebook for library staff that included a comprehensive literature review on the subject (focusing on the concept of the ‘Information Commons’), possible floor plans based on building blueprints, and general suggestions for things like d├ęcor and new furniture. After visiting the site of the new space, consulting the blueprints, and reviewing current library space planning literature and research, two final products were delivered to CTR library staff: the first was a literature review that included initial suggestions for space planning and moving library materials, and the second was a collection of possible floor plans (created using Microsoft’s ‘Visio’ software) with suggestions for future decorating decisions and furniture arrangement. Space planning is an important part of moving to a new library facility. Ultimately, it is hoped that the work done on this project will help CTR staff to use their new space to its fullest advantage to better serve their patrons.

I've read plenty of abstracts in my years of graduate and undergraduate classes, so I tried to do something in the same spirit. The word limit was tough to stick to! Describing a few months of work in less than 200 words is tricky, to say the least. I wanted to go into more detail about the idea of the Information Commons and how Louise was interested in and requested it, but I suppose that's what the poster session is for!

As you can see, I've managed to take some photos around the current library space too. Here's another that I want to talk about:

As you can see (or not?), this is the current front desk at CTR. First, the positives: it's right next to the door! It helps create the welcoming environment that's so good for libraries to establish, and it's connected via phone/internet. But, on the downside: because of the small space, it's really crammed in. It is part of the library entryway, but that entryway is very, very crowded because of it. If the door is slightly less than completely open (floating away from the wall, in other words: they open in to the library) then it can completely block the view of the GRA that is sitting at the desk.

So this is the sort of thing I'm trying to fix! The new space allows for more openness, and a front desk that is near the entrance, part of the entrance... but not breathing down the neck of the entrance.

As this picture makes sort of clear, almost all of CTR's shelving faces parallel to the lengthwise walls of the building: effectively blocking light that comes from the windows. The new space will allow for sunlight- glorious, glorious sunlight!- to filter into our Holy Lady of Pavement Standards and Specifications (sorry, I suddenly reminded myself of something written by a priest putting a cathedral together... he was a bit effusive about his windows, to say the least. I finally get it).

I leave you with one last picture: it's what the Visio floorplan looked like after I had created all of the furniture, but hadn't begun to arrange it yet. It was a great feeling: I felt like I had finished something, but still had plenty to do. Which is probably what I'll feel like once I get my degree, I suppose!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Design, Design, Design?

Looking at that picture, the end of my project seems closer than ever. I still need to create properly sized furniture and arrange it in a few different ways, but wow. It's been a lot of fun, and truly interesting/challenging. That took me two hours! Just trying to get it to actual scale, and figuring out Visio. It's not pretty yet, but take it from me: it works!

Funny enough, the consultant hired to do the building plan handed in their initial sketches right as I was putting the finishing touches on my own preliminary layout. The consensus: not great! She went through the whole floor, but I'll focus on the library (for obvious reasons, personal vendettas, yadda yadda yadda). First of all, the consultant had all of the shelves facing parallel to the windows. This essentially would block any light from coming into the building, and Louise had specifically mentioned wanting perpendicular shelving. The front/main desk was actually placed so that part of it was behind a wall column, which doesn't make for a great first impression. And finally, there was other assorted weirdness as well: file cabinets floating out in the middle of rooms like islands, shelves extending a few rows past walls the were lined up against (creating walls of shelves in the middle of the space, which would be somewhat bizarre)... basically, most of the things that could've been done wrong were done wrong. At the very least, it gives me a good idea of what not to do! I would post a picture, but that could cause some trouble...

I also went to a capstone poster session informational yesterday morning. Turns out: since there are so many of us graduating this semester, they've done away with the 'minute madness' portion of the proceedings! In lieu of that, everyone has to hand in an abstract (200 words or less), and these will be compiled in a program for the day's events. So I suppose I'll just be standing next to my poster, answering questions. I think I can handle that! Though I will have to remember to schedule the business school's printer, since apparently it gets sort of hectic near the end of the semester.

By next week I hope to have at least one finished floorplan with furniture. After that, I've just got to write up my narrative/suggestions for CTR, and I'll be finished! If I wrap things up a bit early, I'll have time to revise and work on poster design, which will be nice. Not to mention other classes. All in all: still work to be done, but I can see the finish line. That's a good feeling, to say the least.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Furniture: The Blog Post

Things are moving right a long here in the land of Cap'd Stone. I'm pleased to announce that the Literature review I turned in went over quite well this week: Louise has already started to peruse some of the articles, and she gave the whole package (introduction and all) a thumbs up. It was a nice way to sort of say good by to the research phase, and now it's down to the nits and grits. Here's a link to the lit review:

Anyhow, about those nits and grits: this week I set about (tape measurer in hand) to inventory the furniture and shelving in the library. Here's what we've got!

Furniture: Library Proper

Large Table, Front Desk (5ft x 2.5ft)
3 Small Side Desks (2ft 8in x 1ft 6in)
1 Circular Table (4ft Diameter)
1 Small Computer Station/Desk (3ft 6in x 2ft)
1 Large Computer Station/Desk (3ft 6in x 2ft 8in)
1 Conference Table (6ft x 2ft 10in)

Shelving: Library Proper
1 Small Wooden Shelf (3ft x 1ft)
1 Taller Wooden Shelf (3ft x 1ft)
1 Magazine Rack (3ft x 11in)
7 Grey, Slatted Shelves (3ft x 1ft)
19 Tall Grey Slatted Shelves (3ft 1/2in x 1ft)
1 Large File Cabinet (4ft 6in x 3ft 7in) (weird size!)
1 Small File Cabinet (2ft 4.5in x 1ft 3in) (is it a file cabinet thing?)
2 Odd Shelves (Small Grey Slats) (3ft x 9 1/2in)

Work Room:
Large Desk (5ft x 2ft 9in)
1 Computer Desk (5ft 10in x 3ft)
1 Side Desk (3ft 6in x 2ft)
4 File Cabinets (3ft x 1ft 6in)
2 Shelves (3ft x 1ft)

States Room Shelves: 9 (2ft 8in x 1ft 1/2in)

So that's the situation! I'm going to try to get the floorplan drawn up in Visio next week, then I can start diagramming and pasting furniture pieces in different configurations. All the while looking for furniture and decoration. This is the fun part!