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IRL2 Building Up, pt. 2

This is a continuation of my blog post from a few weeks ago about the original planning that went into the IRL 2 development. Plans change, and so after the original planning for IRL 2 went out, we set out to iterate. Major changes included wall moves, furniture changes (as a result of wall moves), electrical considerations, and more. At each step in the process, these changes were precipitated by factors outside of our control (building codes, etc), but important factors to discuss nonetheless.

For instance, Chicago has some very tight restrictions when it comes to the use of extension cables (not allowed) and power strips (also not allowed). This limitation forced us to add additional quad outlets, and to think about where those outlets were located in relation to where power would be used. Imagine having to determine, then, where students are going to linger in a space that doesn’t even exist yet. Where will they want to plug in their laptops? Phones? Etc.

Even further, imagine having to map out where every machine in a dynamic space will go and then determining electrical load based on the sum total of machines plugged into an outlet. How those machines would then facilitate traffic flow in a space. Would they be noisy? Dirty? Would students want some to be adjacent to others for ease of between-use?

That’s something I did!

Additionally, we had to worry about things like emergency exits, noise (there are classrooms adjacent to the space, lighting (the area is quite dark, so we built in some lighter furniture/flooring options to adjust), breakout space flexibility, and more.

I think the reason why I enjoy these projects so much is that they are an extreme challenge in systems thinking. Holistically anticipating how an environment and the objects within it will interact with each other is a test on one’s forethought. The constraints, whether they be building code, electrical, community, or otherwise all interact and contribute to some end product. In part, you can’t anticipate what that will be.

But you can try.

Updated and revised plans for the IIRL:


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

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