Saturday, June 8, 2013

Around Aberdeen: Inside the Hideous Glass Cube

A few months ago, I showed you the Hideous Glass Cube (HGC) (otherwise known as the Sir Duncan Rice Library), both in daylight and at night. The thing is, the HGC isn't just a massive modern art sculpture (more on that later); in fact, it was designed to be a semi-functional building, by Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen - apparently the worst architects in the world. According the HGC's homepage:
The building... was conceived to mark the ice and light of the north. It received a rating of 'excellent' in the leading industry measurement of environmental standards, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).
Translation: the building really isn't very functional, at all. There are a handful of computers on the library's seven functional floors - nowhere near the number available at the university where I got my bachelor's degree - and there are a handful of breakout rooms and areas that, again, are nowhere near as functional as their equivalents where I went to school in the States. The other exceptionally bizarre thing about the interior of the HGC? Each floor has a giant hole in it, reducing the available area for students to study, and pretty much serving as a gaping suicide risk. As someone recently noted on the Things Aberdeen Students Don't Say Facebook page:
I guess the library is designed in the current way to avoid students jumping from the the 7th floor out of exam stress.
My colleagues and I have also encountered difficulty actually getting books in the library's collection - including books we needed for essays for which we had tight deadlines. For example, they had a copy of Thinking About Nuclear Weapons by Michael Quinlan - my copy of which is back in the States - but it was in storage, and wouldn't be available for pickup until several days after a student had requested it. The alleged justification for not having actual books available in an actual library is that the library's focus is on online media, but let's face it: the same Internet that's available at the library is available everywhere, while the whole point of a library is to store books for students to come check out.

Because I tend to study in the SOC, and because the HGC isn't really very functional, I don't tend to spend much time in there. I had originally expected to buck the trend I set as an undergrad and spend a lot of time studying in the library, but to date I've never checked out a book (mainly because most of my sources either aren't available from the library, or are available online), and I've only ever studied there once or twice. From what I gather, I'm not missing much. In fact, other than serving as a giant, hideous landmark, and being a bizarre place to take out of town guests, the only practical use for the HGC I've found is that it's a good place for taking pictures of Aberdeen - to include this one of either the MV Hrossey or the MV Hjaltland leaving Aberdeen on its way to Kirkwall and Lerwick.

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