Boston architecture students complain about "unacceptable" studio space

Architecture students at Boston's Northeastern University are petitioning for improved studio space, alleging their current working conditions are unsanitary, unsafe, cold and cramped.

Their grievances were outlined in a letter published last week in the independent student newspaper, The Huntington News.

The letter was addressed to university president Joseph Aoun, and was signed by the Northeastern University Architecture Student Advisory Group and the School of Architecture student body.

The architecture program – which is part of the university's College of Arts, Media and Design – is currently housed in a portion of the Ruggles Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Station, which opened in 1987.

"The quality of the space has greatly deteriorated and no longer fosters the creative atmosphere needed in an architecture studio," stated the students.

"We have outgrown Ruggles Studio and require a better facility that will help us remain competitive in the world of architecture."

The students claimed the space "leaks constantly," which has resulted in models, drawings and equipment being destroyed. Buckets have reportedly been set up to catch water, but they get removed due to being fire hazards.

The signatories also cited electrical cords that hang from the ceiling, "which have injured students in the past by falling and hitting them in the head". Glass window panes have allegedly popped out and ruined student models, they added.

"The studio itself is dangerous," the students alleged.

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Other reported issues included rodent and insect problems, cramped quarters and a lack of desks, disruptive rumblings from nearby buses and trains, and cold temperatures inside the building.

"Though relatively mild, even this past winter has resulted in multiple complaints from students who had to work while wearing blankets because the studio has been unable to provide a comfortable space for them to work in," the letter stated.

The students went on to say that the architecture curriculum is not the problem, just the facilities.

"The conditions of Ruggles Studio are unacceptable, and we, as an architectural student body, refuse to be treated like second-class students in the lengthening shadow of the university's new ivory tower, the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex," the students said, citing a new Payette-designed science complex that is opening this year.

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"We need and deserve a new studio with the proper technical equipment in order to produce cutting-edge architecture."

The group has created a petition, which 193 architecture and landscape architecture students had signed as of 29 March 2016, according to the newspaper.

Dezeen contacted the university's president and the School of Architecture's interim director, Peter Wiederspahn, but has yet to receive a response.

The school's American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) chapter said it could not comment on the issue.

"Unfortunately, the issues that the school of architecture are dealing with at the moment are on more of an internal scale and we do not feel it is quite our place to speak on behalf of the entire school," the group said.

Update 08/04/16: Dezeen received the following statement from the student body in relation to this story: "On Monday 4 April, five days after our letter was published in Huntington News, we, the Northeastern architecture student body, received an email from the architecture administration regarding the potential of a new studio space. The message positively acknowledged our letter and petition, and explained how it was well-considered within the Northeastern community.

"Our action stimulated the university to create a Architecture facilities working group, consisting of university planners, architects, etc. The creation of this group is a great first step, and they are already searching for ways to upgrade our facilities to reflect the amazing architecture program we have at Northeastern."