Justin Li


The Labyrinth Called Tech

2007-11-18

I thought I should show you around the "home" of most of my classes for my college career, Northwestern University's Technological Institute. Among one of the academic buildings with the most floor area, numerous graduate students have gotten lost inside, starved to death, and to this day still haunts the hallways at the dead of night...

No.

But I really won't be surprised if people have gotten lost for over 15 minutes in the building. Consider what would happen, for example, if you walked through the following doors:



The first one is a door from the 4th floor to the fifth floor, and it just hangs above the turn in the staircase. I believe it is just outside L552, but it could be on the other side too. The second photo was taken from the third floor of Ford, meaning the door is on the second floor of the G wing, right about where G225 is.

Which of course, means that they're not the same door, which means Tech has multiple doorways which lead to nowhere.

By now, if you followed the links in the paragraph above, you'll realize that there are maps of the building online, and specifically a room finder to help you find the room. There is also an interactive version of the map in the lobby of Tech, maps of the building with room numbers on the second floor outside the McCormick offices (L269), and directions to each wing and the rooms on that floor at every intersection of the hallways. The directions, by the way, are wrong for one room, MG28. The map shows it tucked away in one corner, but the arrows will point you into the M wing corridor.

Yes, this building has wings. Further examination of the maps will also show that it leads to 7 other buildings through bridges. There are also supposed to be air vents which go all the way down to the main library and back, and have been mapped out by a friend of mine. I have not, unfortunately, explored them.

Besides the sheer expanse of the (connected) building(s) though, the rooms in Tech are actually fairly logically numbered... if you can find the pattern. The map of the ground floor shows each wing clearly labeled, going from A to N but skipping I and J. I don't know why they skipped J (I always thought there was a J wing until now), but I suspect skipping I has to do with the room numbering system. Each room has a four character tag. The first character is the wing, the second character the floor, the the last two characters the room number within that area. If I had been used, it would look too similar to a 1 and therefore confuse people.

For the outer wings, there are no specific room numbering system that I know of. For the center two wings (L and M) though, the rooms actually ingeniously numbered. If you know the system, you can just say where a room is without ever having noticed it before. The pattern goes like this:

Notice that the third rule above makes the hallways of Tech more like roads than corridors, with the odds on one side and the evens on the other.

With these few rules, you can easily pinpoint where a room should be within the main corridors of Tech, which I have done with more than a few students (freshmen!) and visiting parents/scholars. Hopefully it will prevent you from being lost in Tech as well.

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