I recently discovered McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – the web offshoot of a literary magazine also called McSweeney’s – which publishes snarky essays, lists and letters to the universe.
Recent posts include: Look, We Can Either Study for Our Law School Finals, or We Can Bring About the Violent Dissolution of the American Legal System, A Letter from a Theme-Park Employee Who’s Been Accused of Giving Parkgoers the Finger While Posing With Them in Photographs, Excerpts From Steamy Romance Novels for Parents of Young Children and I’m Sorry That My Robot Car Ran Over Your Robot Cat. The entire website is delightful, not least because of its minimalist web design, and I felt compelled to share my new love for it with the world.
By way of fitting it more specifically to this blog, I’ve featured a post that is architecture related.
Your Proposed Design For The New Roosevelt Elementary School
BY Michael Ward
To: J. Harris, Managing Partner; Harris, Logalbo & Boudreau, Designers and Architects
From: Roosevelt Elementary School Building Committee
Date: April 8, 2007
Subject: Your Proposed Design for the New Roosevelt Elementary School
Dear Mr. Harris:
Thank you for submitting a proposal in response to “Request for Proposal (RFP) #1020, Design Plans for the New Roosevelt Elementary School.” Though your proposal had some strong elements, we regret to inform you that we have selected another firm for the project.
Since our committee believes strongly in providing the full reasoning for its decision-making, below are some of the elements of your proposal that we felt to be the most problematic. We hope that these critiques will help you write future proposals. All in all, your proposal was certainly distinctive, and we felt it had many positive aspects. That said, there were some rather severe problems, too, which we list here:
The Cafetoriumatory: Though the concept of combining a cafeteria and an auditorium into a “cafetorium” is a common strategy for efficient use of space, we do not think it appropriate to include lavatory functions in the same space. Not only would this provide insufficient privacy for the children but our legal counsel informs us that this would also violate numerous state and federal health statutes.
Lockers: Although we applaud your recognition of the spatial needs of our students, we were a little disturbed at your description of your lockers’ dimensions as “large enough to fit the average fourth-grader comfortably, and with enough oxygen to survive for at least three hours. Documentation of tests conducted available upon request.” The teachers at Roosevelt strive for a zero-tolerance atmosphere with regard to bullying. They would actually prefer that there not be any possibility of fitting a student inside a locker. However, should this unfortunate circumstance occur, there shouldn’t be any concerns about a dwindling oxygen supply.
Staircases: We liked the fact that you wanted to incentivize student reading by including a reference to Harry Potter directly into the building structure. However, we do not think that “movable and randomly shifting staircases just like at Hogwarts” is the ideal way to do this. As a practical matter, the costs associated with this part of the proposal would be prohibitive. Legal counsel has also warned us of potential liability and copyright issues.
Smoking Lounge: As none of the children are allowed to smoke—by school policy, state law, federal law, and, hopefully, their parents’ rules—a “Student Smoking Lounge” will not be necessary at Roosevelt Elementary.
Moat: Although we were pleased that you attempted to fulfill the “Security Features” section of the RFP requirements, a moat is not exactly the type of security we had in mind. We were thinking more of built-in security cameras, a small room where a guard could sit at the entrance, etc. A moat would generally not provide effective deterrence against the problems that concern us most. Additionally, as you might expect, legal counsel flagged this one as a problem, too.
Holodeck: At this point, we have to assume that you were just being silly. Though, theoretically, a holodeck could be an outstanding learning tool for young students, legal counsel has again warned us of potentially massive liability insurance costs associated with such a room. Additionally, the fact that the holodeck is a fictional creation that is far beyond all conceivable current technology and probably violates several laws of physics makes it an unattractive inclusion in your design plans.
We hope that these comments have been useful.
Again, thank you for your proposal, and good luck in your future endeavors!
The Roosevelt School Building Committee