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The Fault in Our Stairs: Why the “W” Building should change

The

Paul Mullins

The "W" building upon completion in 2013

Jenelle Carlin, Feature Editor

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In 2013, our campus expanded with the addition of the “W” building. Though this building stands as an architectural pinnacle— earning Edison 18th place on the “30 Most Amazing High School Campuses In The World” list developed by Pinnacle Architecture Inc.— it is not nearly as functional as it could, and should, be. With such features as solar panels on the roof, an elevator, eighteen classrooms, and even a clean-water filtration system for filling up water bottles (implemented this year), it is surprising that it also comes with small doors, no bathrooms, and cramped spaces, making it an inconvenience for many students as well as teachers.

With hundreds of students going in and out of the building every 56 minutes, it is astonishing that the architects did not include larger doorways. Considering the size of the building, the doors are not to scale (they are standard [6’8″ by 3″] size), and considering the large traffic encountered by the building, they are not anywhere near the size they should be to accommodate all those students. It can be approximated that, in order to enter the building and get to class, it will take at least three minutes depending on whether or not you can “beat the rush”, so to say. Had the architects chosen larger doors with wider frames, this issue would not exist, because it would allow for more people to go in and out simultaneously. With everyone pushing and shoving to fight their way through the masses, it is astounding that doors of such size were ever approved and put in place.

Aside from the doors, the infamous “W” building comes without bathrooms. Considering that the number of bathrooms on campus is already limited, with some being closed at various hours of the day, it is a major inconvenience for students requiring such facilities. This is not to say that students are incapable of leaving the building to locate another restroom, but in an effort to conserve the amount of time missed outside of the classroom, it was not a very smart decision to choose not to include a bathroom. While it is true that a bathroom does exist within the “W” building, it is reserved for our teaching and administration staff, as if to say that teachers should be allowed the sake of restroom convenience, but it is acceptable for students to run around campus in search of an open bathroom when there could have easily been one right down the hall. Given the number of students within the building during class time, the choice to not include a bathroom was, perhaps, not too well thought out.

Coinciding with the door issue, the “W” building also includes tight hallways, strange cut outs, and limited, space-constricting stairways. The hallways, which do not appear to be small when looking at the building when it is in a tranquil state, are quite the opposite when you are trying to get to class and it feels as though every human possible is in the way and just will not move. Considering the amount of “dead space”, the railed gaps seem to exist for no real reason; perhaps they should have used some of that space to widen the cramped hallways. As mentioned earlier, the “W” building features a number of architectural designs meant to make it look modern and advanced— a place of learning and enrichment. On the inside, these create unnecessary gaps and hidden corners, which contributes to the choppy flow of students up and down the hallways. The worst aspect of the design in terms of restraint is by far the stairs. Divided by a railing most likely designed to promote one-way traffic on either sides (which no one follows), these stairs are the ultimate battle. With two sets of stairs to combat whilst fighting through crowds of people going the opposite way, it is difficult to squeeze your way through without knocking into someone at least three times. Not only is it stressful and annoying, but highly unnecessary. Once inside the building, the back of the first level contains a set of stairs going up on the left side, but not on the right side (which doesn’t really make sense considering there is plenty of room for another staircase, which would, in turn, allow for the traffic of the building to be better contained).  

Regardless of its grandeur and aesthetics, the “W” building contains many flaws that almost outweigh all the praise it has received. For students and teachers alike, it serves as an almost stressful inconvenience. Between having to wait five minutes just to enter or exit the building, fighting your way up and down the stairs, pushing your way across the hallways, and having to walk a considerable distance just to use the bathroom, it truly is not all administration or reviewers claims it to be. Until you have experienced the day-to-day struggles of the “W” building in between classes, you do not know just how flawed this building truly is. Despite having been designed well for aesthetics, and earning Edison a spot on a prestigious list, it was not designed for convenience or practical use by students and teachers for the numbers of both it is faced with.

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