Sunday, September 08, 2013

Oxford's New Mathematical Institute (aka the "Andrew Wiles Building")

I just got back from a two-week trip to the US, and the stuff in my old office in Dartington House got moved into our shiny new building while I was gone.

We are going to have the official opening conference for the new building on 3 October.

The building is a bit of an eyesore from the outside, but the inside is excellent. There is one large visual kluge (where a walkway and an otherwise-nice architectural feature butt heads in a particularly grating manner), but the whole ambiance of an Escher-esque ant farm on the inside just works. (We are, of course, the ants.) There are a bunch of diagonal walkways within the floors and also diagonal vertical stairways and a very open feel. This will increase the chances of random encounters (and I expect many of them will be useful), though I'll need to be careful not to make a Bugs-Bunny-like wrong turn at OxPDE. :)

My office seems about twice as large as my old one, and I have tons more shelf space, a desk to facilitate meetings (finally!). Presumably, I also finally have working windows and blinds, and the Powers That Be could never manage to get either of those truly working properly in my almost 6 years in my old office. My office is also located strategically. For one thing, many of my lab members near it, and a restroom and both grayscale and color printers nearby. Moreover, when using a grayscale printer, I get to choose whether to use a printer that passes the offices of my lab members or one that does not... how very convenient :P ). Arguably even cooler than that is that my office is situated so that its entrance is just above one of the diagonal staircases. This will allow me to rain 'Death From Above' on people as they walk up and down the nearby staircase. (Now where are my red shells when I need them?) Truly, this building's layout would make one truly awesome arena for battle mode in a Mario Kart game. I will simply have to try to resist the urge to drop things on people as they are traversing the nearby staircase.

And, of course, there is the following extremely important fact: Once everybody has moved in, the mathematics department is going to be in one building (though a few stragglers will likely still be using an office elsewhere as their main office), and that is simply awesome! Most recently, we had been split over 4 different buildings (and we had gotten up to 5 at some point), so this consolidation will simplify things like having quick conversations with graph theorists without e-mailing back and forth to schedule something for a month later, etc. It's also very helpful for everybody that all of the support staff are now in the same building. Many of the ones with whom I dealt were in Dartington House (the building I was in) and quite a few things needed to be delivered by hand, and this is a royal pain in the butt when the deliverer and the deliveree are not in the same building (which was often the case for many of our faculty).

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