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Designer’s block

December 20, 2011

Many people know the pure terror of staring at a blank page before writing the first sentence. As I found out something similar happens when you need to create a new lab. A senior professor once told me that he still remembered the time of his job interview, when the department chair showed him a completely empty room and said: “this is your future lab”.

Well, I had it worse since my lab did not come empty: it was full of cabinets, furniture scraps and random items left behind by the campus IT department. My first task was to imagine how this space would look completely empty. A buddhist exercise. Oh, and I forgot to mention – it was up to me to tear down existing walls and put new ones where I wanted.

I started by taking the layout of the Old Engineering Hall basement corner:

And erasing all walls from it:

Now, at least in my computer, I was left with an empty space of 2000 square feet. Then I had an idea: why not ask my colleagues in Delft for suggestions. What would they do in my position? The first proposal came from a friend of mine who just became a professor himself.

Apparently, they gave him a very small office… “Very well then”, I said, “and what about equipment?” Here the whole group contributed:

As you can see, I had my complete space figured out with very little effort! I only asked why nobody put a milli-Kelvin fridge in the lab, and the answer was that it would not be convenient – too far to run to the fridge form the jacuzzi for a beer.

Well, I promised them I’d think about this. I am still trying to get a quote for a 10 foot-long TV.

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