view showing the many landscape and architectural obstacles to accessing the upper floors of building FA4 on the CSU Long Beach campus

Architecture & Urban Planning – The Wedge

ID Banner for Art 110 at CSU Long Beach for Spring Semester 2017

This week we get to redesign a little bit of the CSULB campus. You get your choice of either of two space flow problems on campus. The first choice, The Wedge, you already know about. I’ll call it The USU Wedge, to distinguish it from your other redesign choice, The FA4 Wedge.

The USU Wedge

It’s a legendary “problem.” I put problem in quotation marks because even though it’s a flow nightmare, it’s often remembered with idiosyncratic affection by alumni.

Photo of the CSU Long Beach University Student Union where it meets the road and the Brotman Hall plaza showing a pedestrian choke point between 2 architectural decor panels

The Wedge: where the USU meets the road – some decorative architectural elements conspire to make one of the worst pedestrian traffic choke points on the CSULB campus. The designer of this detail may never have intended it for foot traffic, but a body can squeeze through, and it’s a few steps shorter, and so “The Wedge” was born.

Photo of the CSU Long Beach University Student Union where it meets the road and the Brotman Hall plaza showing a pedestrian choke point between 2 architectural decor panels

The Wedge: USU heading toward Brotman

Photo of the CSU Long Beach University Student Union where it meets the road and the Brotman Hall plaza showing a pedestrian choke point between 2 architectural decor panels

The Wedge: Brotman Hall heading toward the USU and Upper Campus

The FA4 Wedge

It doesn’t get nearly as much traffic as the big USU Wedge, but in terms of space & flow, it’s probably an even worse problem. There are 3 ways to get to our classroom, FA4-311: The elevator or stairs on the west side of FA4, or the stairs on the east side of FA4. I think most of you take the west side elevator / stairs, so you might not even know about the mess that is the FA4 East Stairs. I don’t really know the history of this access path, I suspect it might be a Frankenstein of different construction mods over the decades. As it is today, it’s a maze of trees, railings, columns, hedges, and the door itself, all conspiring to make this one of the worst access points on campus.

The East End Door to the upper floors of FA4. It is surrounded by hedges, a tree, a railing, a column, and wedged in by the opening of the door itself.

The FA4 Wedge: believe it or not, the only East side access to the 2nd & 3rd floors of FA4 is hiding behind all of these landscape and architectural elements.

view of the east end access to the upper floors of building FA4 on the CSULB campus

The FA4 Wedge

view showing the many landscape and architectural obstacles to accessing the upper floors of building FA4 on the CSU Long Beach campus

The FA4 Wedge

Your Mission

1st pick which of these 2 campus architectural problems you’d like to redesign. Then go and spend some time with it. Walk through it yourself. Sit a while and watch students use the space. Take photos. Make sketches.

2nd, think through your redesign. For The USU Wedge, it’s a real traffic problem. But some current and former students might have affection for this quirky “mistake” of architecture. Do you forget about that and just make better access? Or do you try to create some improved flow while also incorporating a nod of some sort to the history of the space?

At The FA4 Wedge that tree is way overgrown. Tearing it out would really help with flow. But it’s also beautiful. If you tear it out, people will complain. It’s far too large to move, so you’ll have to make a choice.

Think through these and the other questions about the space and its use that you can think of.

When you’re ready: redesign it!

You can do your design in any media you like. Pencil sketch. Pencil drafting. Computer sketch. CAD design. Use whatever tools you choose to give a clear presentation of what your redesign of your Wedge area will be.

Your Blog Post

  1. Show your designs
  2. Explain what you’re changing
  3. Talk about how it will be better
  4. Discuss the tradeoffs at your site and how you made your choices
  5. Describe how you think students will talk about the new access route a year from now