When new buildings get planning approval in the UK, there are often very strict limitations on things like the number of parking spaces that the new building can have. The idea is that if you limit the amount of parking spaces then people will be “motivated” in to cycling or taking public transport. The actual result is that people end up parking in nearby residential streets, thus clogging up the streets and irritating the local residents.
There is a similar policy at Saïd Business School, but it has nothing to do with parking. You see I have my suspicions that when they were designing this building someone told the architects to find a way of reducing the amount of pi$$ing and cr@pping the students were likely to do.
(Advance warning – you may have come to this blog expecting shrewd VC and startup musings or commentary about economic issues that I have learnt on my MBA. Well, in case it isn’t already obvious enough, this post is about toilets. I make no apologies.)
That’s the only explanation I can think of for building a brand new building this size with enough toilets to perhaps support a building designed to house the UK branch of the George W. Bush appreciation society.
In the first two weeks at SBS, most of the induction-type lectures were in the largest lecture theatre (the Nelson Mandela Lecture Theatre), which can hold about 300 people. At every break massive queues would build up in the guys toilets, which had two urinals and one stall. The SBS Common Room has two stalls in the gents toilets. No urinals! In the first couple of weeks there could be 150+ people drinking beer in there! Then we have a pretty decent library, which must have enough study desks for a couple of hundred students, and there are no toilets. None! (well – one disabled one actually)
This leads to the unpopular “SBS toilet quests”. I’d say about 50% of the time you go to any given toilet here it will be full, which means you have to go on your quest to the other two toilets. Sometimes it can end up with you having to do multiple laps of the building until you find a space (like trying to get parked in a busy car park!). Often you’ll see the same students on the same quest but trying them in a different order. You give each other the “SBS toilet quest nod” to wish them luck with their quest, but at the same time hoping that you are the one that find the Holy Grail – an empty toilet.
Only the other day I saw one of these hardy crusaders falling to their knees, weeping as they made their 9th loop of the building in vain.
So if the new building parking problems are anything to go by, that must mean that SBS students are pi$$ing and cr@pping in the streets around the business school. That or using the train station.
There’s actually a big multi-million pound building programme going on at SBS at the moment. We’re told the expansion is to house more executive education facilities, but I have my suspicions that it could just be a giant toilet block.