Swing space for architecture students is ‘just different’

Kaylee McIlvaine, sophomore in environmental design, cuts foamboard for a simple space model in Seaton Hall on Oct. 6, 2014. With construction for the renovation of Seaton Hall beginning this month, architecture studios are temporarily being relocated to a swing space near Manhattan Regional Airport. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

Construction for the renovation of Seaton Hall is scheduled to begin this month. Because of this, the second through fifth year architecture studios were relocated to a swing space near Manhattan Regional Airport.

Earlier in the year, architecture students grumbled about the upcoming change, but now many students have positive remarks about their new setup.

Johnathan Disberger, sophomore in architecture, said he finds the new APDesign West studio to be a more collaborative environment. In Seaton, smaller groups of students shared a studio classroom. At APDesign West, hundreds of desks line the one room all students share.

“I personally like it,” Disberger said. “The pros are definitely that it is open and you can communicate with each other.”

David Sachs, professor of architecture, echoed Disberger.

“One good thing that I see is the students moving around between the sections,” Sachs said. “They are looking at what the other students are doing, and this makes it easier for students to see how the different sections are being taught.”

For Christian Berger, junior in architecture, the best part of the relocation is the project opportunities that followed. His current studio project is to design a partition wall that will divide studios in Seaton’s renovation.

“The move set up some really cool opportunities (like the wall project) that people are really taking advantage of,” Berger said. “That is something we never would have gotten to do in Seaton.”

Though the feel for the swing space is generally positive, there are still some difficult adjustments for the students and faculty. The seven-mile drive west of Manhattan is one of the biggest challenges. For students, a lot of planning must go into a trip to studio.

Disberger, who resides in Wamego, must plan for a 30-minute trip to studio from his home. For other students living in Manhattan, the drive can take up to 20 minutes. The ATA Bus transportation system runs a 20-minute loop from campus to studio, which means students must plan ahead to catch the bus if they choose not to drive.

The commute also makes it difficult to work in studio for just an hour between classes, meaning students must plan for longer stretches of time spent at their studio desk.

“It’s kind of an unavoidable issue that (K-State) has attempted to resolve with the shuttles,” Berger said. “They’ve done all they can, and it helps a lot. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s just something you have to plan for.”

The commute also affects the availability of food. If students plan to work over meal time, they must either pack food or rely on vending machines, which are the only on-site food source currently. The department is looking into providing an on-site food truck, which Berger said would be very popular.

For faculty, the distance often makes it hard to have teaching resources immediately available. Sachs said he can no longer quickly run to his office to grab a book to provide an example to a student. Instead, he must wait until his next trip out to bring it. One way he counteracts this issue is having a bigger collection of resources at APDesign West for quick reference.

A few other initial concerns of students were security of the building, the shorter studio hours, parking and noise. Many of these worries have been resolved since the start of school.

K-State hired security guards to watch over the building. So far, students have been able to work around the building closing at 1 a.m., in contrast to Seaton being open 24 hours. The parking lot has space for 320 vehicles, but according to the students this is only “adequate.”

The faculty has been flexible in teaching style to accommodate the open layout, where several professors are trying to teach simultaneously. Noise may have been an initial concern for students and faculty, but according to Berger and Disberger, the noise level has not been a distraction while they are working.

Sachs said the noise has not been an issue because the students are respectful of the other students in the building and refrain from being disruptive.

No new situation is ever perfect.

“There are two ways to go about it,” Berger said. “You can either sit and complain about the problem … or you can take it and roll with it and try to make the most of it. We are going to be there no matter what and we are getting a new building which is a positive.”

The adjustments, both positive and negative, made by the students and faculty to deal with the change have gone smoothly, according to Sachs.

“I’m happily surprised that everyone is adjusted as well as they are,” Sachs said. “We are remaining patient with things where there seems to be more friction than there used to. I can’t say it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just different.”