The perils of shared space

Aug 03 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

Our new building was built with buzz words. I'm not complaining, because the new space is great, but the "research model" that was forced upon us set up for us involves a lot of shared space. The general idea is for individual groups to have benches in large multi-group labs. This model has worked well for some, whereas other groups have divvied up the space by area of the lab, with a virtual line on the floor mentality. Some of my space is shared with two other labs that do very similar basic tasks as we do and it has actually worked out very well to divide the space by function, rather than group, but with each group having their own benches. This arrangement has minimized the redundancy in low use equipment and helped with student interaction. It also helps that all of the PIs get along and respect each other, facilitating group interaction.

I do have one issue though. One of the PIs in the lab group is getting close to retirement (CtR). Obviously that is not an issue, but the problem is that when we moved in, CtR brought 30 years of stuff into the new space. In general, this would not be a problem because there is a good amount of storage, but the stuff is still in boxes all over the place. We have boxes on benches, stacked up against walls and windows and any place where there is not constant foot traffic. CtR's people have been in the new building for over 4 months now, and are doing work in the lab, but the stuff remains, strewn about under empty cabinets.

I don't really know how to approach the situation, because CtR is very busy with other things and the boxes don't directly impact my people, per se. Not bringing it up, however, virtually ensures that the boxes will sit for many more months, which is a prospect that makes me cringe. I don't want to go directly to CtR's students, because they didn't create the mess. I may just have to talk to CtR directly and try and suggest that it would be helpful if they took some time to deal with the stuff. Whether or not that will translate into action is the big question.

7 responses so far

  • Odyssey says:

    CtR's boxes might turn into a bigger problem than they currently are. The administration will view it thusly:Boxes occupying space = unused space.Unused space = money not brought in.Hence, unused space should be taken from owner of boxes and given to productive faculty.Why is that a problem for you? Well, somewhere in the dean's office there is a map of your building with everyone's space assignment. I'm betting some of the space you use as shared instrumentation space with CtR and the other lab is assigned to CtR. That could disappear. And there's a good chance it will be given to someone who won't want to use it as shared space.I work in a similar building. That's how it works here. Of course if you gain CtR's space there's no problem.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I don't think we're currently in any danger of that, but it may become an issue, should the boxes sit for too long. I am going to have to find a way to best approach CtR on the issue, as they are traveling a fair bit in the fall.

  • Ink says:

    Dude, you put your stuff in there! (Sorry, SNL flashback, with's just every time I saw stuff italicized, I thought of that skit and I hope you know what I'm talking about, otherwise, never mind). But I hope you get your space back NOT subject to change anymore. I'm staying put. You may now change your endless Who loop from "Won't Get Fooled Again" to "The Song Is Over."

  • Hermitage says:

    In my prior multilives stuff was liable to be thrown out and if you pitched a fit all you got was an airy 'oh it wasn't labeled and we didn't know what it was and you didn't answer your emails lalalalala'. Then again our labspaces were warzones so that's probably not the best plan.

  • Toaster Sunshine says:

    I would buy a large bucket of the little plastic army men and construct massive battles upon the stacked boxes. If nothing else besides amusing you, it'd get the lab they belong to to notice them still sitting there. Especially if manipulating the battles became a Thing in which many people participated.

  • Requin says:

    Toaster Sunshine, I *love* that suggestion.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Ink - I remain skeptical, but I'll change the designation.Herm - It would be a bad idea to take that approach in this case. No reason to start any issues in the lab when there are none to speak of right now.Toaster - Interesting thought, legos might work as well. Of course, that would take a lot longer than just talking to the PI, but I like the subtle passive aggressive feel to it.

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