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Let us explain a few things

UC answers frequently heard questions -- from scarce parking to the odd numbering of floors in buildings.

by Deborah Rieselman

We may not get answers to a lot of things in life, but we can get a few more if we keep asking. So in honor of our deserving readers, we chased down responses to some of the more frequently asked questions we have heard at the University of Cincinnati.

photo/Lisa Ventre

The Engineering Research Center. Photo/Lisa Ventre

Are those smokestacks on ERC?

No. The four cone shapes on the Engineering Research Center roof are vents, used to vent labs and a clean room in the basement. An extensive ventilation system sucks contaminants through the large stacks, rather than using hundreds of little ones as Rieveschl Hall does.

The College of Engineering and Applied Science

Why are floor numbers so odd?

Campus visitors are often bewildered when using an elevator to return to the ground floor. One of two things usually happens: The elevator buttons do not display "1," or when the doors open on "1," nothing looks familiar.

That's because the visitor may have entered the building on level four. Or maybe five. The problem comes from buildings having entrances on several levels because campus is terraced. "Which entrance is the first floor?" asks Andrew Williams, director of space management policy and analysis.

Floors, consequently, have been numbered according to a building's lowest level or even an attached building's lowest level.

The College-Conservatory of Music, for example, has multiple buildings connected by walls, tunnels and skywalks. "Yet all are numbered as if a single building," Williams explains, "so students don't get confused crossing some imaginary line between floors and buildings."

Of course, it doesn't work as smoothly as it should. While the new Student Life Center's floors relate directly to buildings on its north -- Swift, Baldwin, Rhodes, Old Chemistry and ERC -- the matrix falls apart on the south side, where Student Life Center's 400 level leads to 300 TUC, which leads to both 200 University Pavilion and 400 Mary Emery Hall.

"Unfortunately, a hodgepodge of methods have created a lovely mess," Williams says. "Plus landscaping has filled in sections of campus and altered its appearance through the years." Nevertheless, he offers some sound advice: "You've got to have a sense of humor about this."

Jerry Mays on his way up the blue crane photos/Andrew Higley

"How do you climb a boom crane?

This question nagged University Relations staff for months as we watched workers maneuver two towering cranes in the middle of Varsity Village construction. Photographer Andrew Higley volunteered to give us a first-hand account.

Turns out, dual shifts have two people working together on each crane, carrying food and drinks to the top, where a portable toilet waits. Everyone stays up until shifts end.

	Jerry Mays on his way up the blue crane photos/Andrew Higley

Jerry Mays [top photo] on his way up the blue crane. Photos/Andrew Higley

Jerry Maye can climb the 200 feet of ladders in about 10 minutes or 420-foot cranes in about 25 minutes. Higher working conditions, he says, usually have constant breezes, which can be a benefit on hot days or a significant hardship on cold ones.

How are the cranes erected? Taller cranes assemble shorter cranes, and a hydraulic crane, which arrives in pieces, often puts up the biggest one.

"Why isn't there more parking?

"Some campuses are blessed with a wealth of real estate, letting them use large blocks of surface parking," notes parking services director John Hautz. "Others, such as Miami, forbid students of certain years to bring cars to campus. But at UC, any student can purchase a parking decal regardless of standing or where they live."

Last year, parking grew worse, he admits, when construction closed the Stratford lot before the new Calhoun Garage opened. This fall, Calhoun's 1,000 spaces will bring campus parking back to the same number it had before any surface parking lots were removed.

Parking spaces are "rationed" among employees, students and visitors, Hautz says. "We try to balance those numbers with historical data to give us an equilibrium. All kinds of variables impact parking, including how many students live on campus and the schedule of classes on different days. Only during peak demand in the fall, does it become quite a challenge to find that equilibrium."

photo/Dottie Stover

Photo/Dottie Stover

How do computers work in the grass?

Connecting to the Internet, downloading assignments and handling tasks formerly required a phone line. About 35 percent of the Uptown Campus is wireless, including MainStreet, green spaces, University Pavilion and parts of many colleges, says Fred Siff, vice president of information technology. Access is restricted to people already in the UC database, although guests can be "authenticated" as needed.

"It's the way to do business today," Siff explains. "The concept of having to do business in a building next to a wall is so archaic."

Students love it, adds Justin Shafer, Student Government president. "For doing homework in lounges or for making presentations in a conference room, it's great."

Wires, of course, are still needed someplace, meaning installation becomes a funding decision. Furthermore, it's not for everyone, Siff points out. "For some people, sitting at a desk is fine. And you don't want it in classrooms where you need to manage what students are doing.

What's the whirly-gig?

Lily Rowe appreciating "Windy Sitty" photo/Lisa Ventre

Lily Rowe appreciating "Windy Sitty." Photo/Lisa Ventre

Watch how you talk about art. Functional art, no less. "Windy Sitty" was part of the fall exhibit at the University of Cincinnati Student Life Center's DAAP Gallery. Placed outside the gallery in the Mews, the artistic creation fanned students like CCM's Lily Rowe, who could turn the potter's wheel at the bottom with her feet, thus rotating the blades to produce a downdraft. Adam Hayes, Darren Glavic and Chris Burkhart created the piece with salvaged and recycled parts.

What are those archways in the lawn?

photo/Dottie Stover

Photo/Dottie Stover

Careful, we're talking about art again. Dennis Oppenheim's playful "Crystal Garden" consists of three pieces installed near University Pavilion in the summer of '03. "Based on geological crystalline forms, they conjure notions of architecture, artificial landscapes, natural forces and their interplay," says Anne Timpano, UC fine arts manager. They were funded through the State of Ohio Percent for Art Program, which funnels a percentage of construction costs to public art.