Smile Politely

BFL for the CIF

Tom Ackerman

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a BRAND NEW building on campus. Okay, it’s actually a year old, but I’m just now taking the time to review it. Strap in as I give the full B/F/L treatment to the “Campus Instructional Facility!”


The Campus Instructional Facility

Yes, it’s really called that. Perhaps the most laughably generic name besides: “The University Learning Place,” the “Space Where Teachers Teach,” or the “Classroom Rectangle.” Reading up a bit more about the CIF on the web, the name does kinda make sense. The building is meant to provide high-tech classrooms for any class that needs it regardless what college they’re part of. The classrooms are meant to encourage discussion and student engagement, plus the building uses geothermal energy for heat and cooling. Unfortunately, I’m NOT here to talk about those things. I’m a shallow guy and I’m just here to critique the looks!

A large building with a sidewalk extending along the front of it. It has red brick rectangular sections alternated with windows along one side, and all windows on the end.
Tom Ackerman
A view of the all window side of the building, There are two small trees in front of it.
Tom Ackerman

The CIF has a LOT of windows, wow. (Fun fact the windows are mostly “smart glass” which also helps with heating/cooling costs, but will birds and distracted freshmen still run right into them? Likely.) Some have complained about the CIF’s aggressively modern looks, but I think it’s not too bad. I appreciate the use of bricks to make it blend in with the other University buildings. I also like the variety of materials and textures, though some bits of the building are a bit dystopian if viewed on their own….


A gray stone wall that is sectioned into rectangles. Six gray stone cubes sit on the sidewalk in front of it.
Tom Ackerman
Long rectangular stone benches are placed along a sidewalk. Behind them is a space with dirt and several small trees.
Tom Ackerman

Oh, what’s behind this grate?

Close up of a round metal grate attached to a red brick wall.
Tom Ackerman

Ah, a damp pipe. Not sticking my arm in there, not even for you dear readers.

Close up of the author's hand lifting the grate to reveal a metal pipe opening underneath.
Tom Ackerman

Even the bike racks look futuristic. At least they’re more functional than some of the older racks I’ve seen elsewhere.

Two rows of metal posts on a sidewalk. There is a bike hooked up to one of them.
Tom Ackerman

What’s this block of windows that juts out from the wall?

The side of a building, focused on a column of windows that stick out from the side.
Tom Ackerman

Well folks, I don’t always do this, but I did venture inside the CIF as well. Turns out these glass outcroppings are at the end of the elevator vestibules. Pretty cool that you can have a panoramic view while you wait for the elevator. 

A view out windows that meet in a corner, overlooking a parking lot with several cars, four bike racks, and a path that leads out to a grassy area.
Tom Ackerman

The interior of the CIF strongly matches the exterior: industrial, minimalist, slightly futuristic.

A series of light gray panels on a wall that depict a grayscale pixelated image of a woman on one side. One panel is black with the word IMPACT in white lettering.
Tom Ackerman

VERDICT:  There’s a fine line between simple and sterile, but I personally think that the CIF succeeds in being an inviting space despite all the hard edges, sans-serif text, and very large grayscale portraits of people. 


The Unbearable Urge to Play The Nintendo 64 Classic “Diddy Kong Racing” on the CIF Big Screen

Inside the CIF there’s a large space called the “Monumental Steps.” It’s kind of a big amphitheater that’s open for studying or events. The steps are pointing towards a very large screen. It’s so big it’s visible to anyone driving east down Springfield.

A series of large wide steps, looking down towards the floor. Several people are scattered on them, most with computers on their laps. A large screen showing a women's basketball game is on the wall in front of the stairs.
Tom Ackerman

Readers, I’m sure you agree that I, and several of my friends, simply MUST be allowed to play Diddy Kong Racing on this screen. 

A series of large wide steps, looking down towards the floor. Several people are scattered on them, most with computers on their laps. A large screen showing a video game is on the wall in front of the stairs.
Tom Ackerman

VERDICT: Perhaps you too have an aging videogame that you’d like to play here. That’s fine, but I get to go first. 


The All-Gender Restrooms at the CIF

There are multiple restrooms on all five floors of the Campus Instructional Facility. The coolest ones are the all-gender restrooms. Not just because they’re inclusive for everyone (which is great), but because they have a shower! 

Like the rest of the CIF, these bathrooms are industrial, but clean. They could use a splash of color though I think. As you’d hope for a bathroom in a new University building, everything is in working order.

A gray toned bathroom with a white sink, white trash can, and white toilet in a row. There are metal rails on the walls by the toilet, and a mirror above the sink.
Tom Ackerman

There’s “dis-pos-a-bags” for your sanitary napkins.

Close up of a paper bag with purple printing on it. It says Dis-pos-a-bag and has an image of a flower and two rolls of toilet paper on stems.
Tom Ackerman

I asked some friends of mine who have more experience with these things than I, and they all said the one-eyed flower roasting two marshmallows was not a normal thing to have on a sanitary napkin disposal bag. 

Anyhow, the real gem here is the full shower! I so rarely get to review showers for this column.

A metal shower head and faucet is attached to a gray wall. There are metal hand rails attached to each wall as well.
Tom Ackerman

Of course I tested it. Water pressure is solid and runs nice and hot. I did not take a real shower myself (because I hadn’t thought to bring a towel), but I certainly would shower here if the occasion arose. 

Close up of a shower head spraying water into a gray wall.
Tom Ackerman

The folding bench uh, gets caught on the hand railing….Not great, but a firm shove gets it into place. 

Close up of a white folding bench, partially pushed down. A metal hand rail is attached to the wall.
Tom Ackerman
The full shower with shower head attached to the wall, folding bench pushed down.
Tom Ackerman

VERDICT: I’ve heard from the internet that students don’t shower enough. Hopefully these bathrooms help with that. 

That’s all for my deep dive into the Campus Instructional Facility. I urge ya’ll to check it out. It’s a cool place. 

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