Group-based Anti-Feng Shui?

23 June 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

| Chihmao Hsieh |

I’ve got a dream of building a house sometime in the next several years. Not for the matter of pride, but because around my 40’s I’d like a bona fide party house. I thought one key would be to have a loft-like open-air layout.

Then I read this post on Dr. Keith Sawyer’s blog about The Building that ‘Threw Up on Itself.’

It describes MIT’s Stata Center, which houses that university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, as well as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. Keith writes:

From the exterior, some people say it looks as if a crazy architect dropped a pile of kid’s blocks onto Amherst Avenue. Some locals call it “the building that threw up on itself”.

Many architects love it. In a rave review, Boston Globe columnist Robert Campbell wrote “Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. That’s the point.”

On the first floor there are no “hallways” in the conventional sense. Wide thoroughfares cross at odd angles, bringing people into constant contact. There are seating areas in niches designed to encourage spontaneous meetings, and whiteboards are everywhere. You pass a cafeteria, where the tables are placed so that you almost have to walk through the seated diners. A branch of the library offers internet workstations, but not in cubicles: in a separate zone defined by two parallel walls. You get the feeling that you’re in a buzzing bazaar, surrounded by activity.

So I guess I have a few questions. Would the building’s bizarre exterior and groupthink-inducing interior work for other companies? And what about this kind of design for your house? I’m not exactly sure how those ‘odd angles’ would work to bring people into constant contact, but it makes me reconsider that a loft-like open space may not be the best party environment. But then again, I suppose it matters what kind of people are at the party (e.g. sets of total strangers vs. sets of best friends, introverts vs. extroverts), and what kind of party you want.

Entry filed under: Ephemera, Former Guest Bloggers.

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