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    Density in the Incubator

    Daniel Kidd Sep 30 '08 2

    The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics


    The next time you’re in David Benjamin’s studio on the third floor of Avery Hall in the South East corner, don’t pick the most secluded ‘corner-iest’ corner of the studio. It is not such a good a strategy. If you find that you have made this strategic mistake, there may be some tactics at your disposal;

    Tactic 1) You can try to bribe people to switch seats with you; And be sure not to tell them you want to switch because you hate your spot. Instead try saying something about the bad lighting and the onset of seasonal depression.

    Tactic 2) You can try to be a little more extroverted and make an effort to go talk to your classmates about their projects and your own. You may be able to salvage your semester.

    I think the main problem is isolation. I have had a very secluded desk in the past, and it was great. It was a bit easier to focus with less distraction, but the studio this semester is unique in that we are all collectively learning new software, and it is very difficult to do that on your own. My seat is against the back wall of the studio and the aisle space is so close to the wall that I have to ask people to move every time I want to go to and from my desk. This is annoying for everybody. On the positive side maybe it will force me to stay at my seat more so I can get actual work done.



    Before I came to Columbia I had heard talk of the cramped spaces of “East Coast Schools.” I can only assume that if there is a place that epitomizes this stereotype, it is this very school, where our dean begins each year by praising the virtues of “density” (said with a New Zealand accent = “deansidee” ). So this “incubator,” this “think tank” has not failed to meet my expectations. It is cramped beyond cramped, and yet each year we are admitting more students than the year before. Three years ago the number of incoming students was about 50. Now there are 96, yet the building has managed to stay the same size. Rather than relocating to another part of campus, or requesting to be included in the future expansion of Columbia’s Morningside Campus, we have instead been packed into tighter and tighter arrangements. Last year they even built additional desks on the ends of the existing aisles to accommodate the increased number of students.



    At Utah I had enough space for a coffee maker, a fridge, and enough desk space to hold several models, a few open books, and lunch. At one point we even had several community couches and a hammock in the studio.

    While there are serious drawbacks to the lack of space here, I have to admit that the same lack of space has proven to spark interesting conversations with other students that might not happen were we to be a few extra feet apart. The fact that we cannot help but look over each other’s shoulder every day also means that we have more opportunities to see all the work that everyone else is doing. There are some pros to the density. If tactic #1 proves unsuccessful, I will just have to try and get out of my corner on a regular basis.



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    My New Home
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    My Row of Obstacles
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    There are SOME Not-so-Unlucky spaces at GSAPP.

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    • 2 Comments

    • _JC
      Sep 30, 08 6:22 pm

      my biggest challenge would be the surface area of those desks...on second thought, it would probably be finding the time to diagram the surface area of my desk. Very informative...I guess you can only hope Sharon is an annoying neighbor so Michael regrets taking the best seat in the house. good luck.

      Courtney Healey
      Oct 1, 08 7:19 am

      I love this! I remember visiting your studios a couple of years ago and cringing at the cramped Anne Frank's attic feeling... Makes me not feel so bad about our West coast Modern studio plan... even if our windows never close properly... and we're in Canada for chrissakes! Be nice to Steven, he holds alot of power over that 12" gap...

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