30 March 2006
College Tuition vs School Tax Revenues: Architectural Design Can Waste Both
I manage very large woodworking projects for a living. Today I was at a jobsite doing a survey and taking photos of my work areas to prove how far behind schedule the other trades were. The project in question is a new building for a well-known Ivy League School which I won't name (hint: this school cost Paul Newman a fortune in "The Gambler")
So here's a picture of an elliptical skylight, positioned above a spiral staircase. Surrounding this staircase are walls which I will be cladding with quarter sawn maple veneer paneling, soaring about 50-60 feet high and costing the school about $100,000. Yikes. I have little doubt that the spiral shape of the stairs and the eliptical shape of the skylight added at least another $100,000 to the overall cost of the project. Private schools can afford this stuff, and you can't fault them for trying to create the most beautiful space possible for their students. They pay a fortune for their diplomas. Still, having this kind of cash to throw around speaks volumes about the cost-prohibitive tuitions students are faced with..
PUBLIC schools on the other hand, can't spend money so frivolously, or at least they shouldn't. For example, I'm managing a middle school project where the architect specified $1500 under-counter refrigerators in the science labs. I can give them cheaper equivalents that would save about $8000 for the school, the town and the taxpayers. Do you think the architect or general contractor are interested? Let's not go there.
Posted by IMA at 3/30/2006