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Put Wet Towels On The Sensor
December 20, 2007 12:23 PM   Subscribe

How to wash your hands and ride the elevators in the new New York Times Building.
posted by Xurando (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

"If it was stopping at floors 4 and 7, when the doors opened at the 4th floor, the electronic sign above the elevator doors would be displaying 7 - and people going to the 7th floor would see it and get off"

How the designers could miss this elemental part of the UE 'story' is mind-chilling. Then again, that would explain it if they didn't even bother to put themselves through the user story process to begin with.
posted by panamax at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2007

Fast-forward 50 years: technology is developed that allows elevator riders to request to exit at a different floor than the one initially requested. Huge efficiency gains are recorded.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:48 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

The same building whose facade has been likened to a parking garage or a futuristic prison. It does have handy access to the bus terminal though — it's right across the street.
posted by smackfu at 12:52 PM on December 20, 2007

There's nothing NY-Times specific about the annoyance of those motion-sensor faucets. I adore this story because of the human ingenuity aspect of the work-arounds. Beautifully organic.
posted by Miko at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2007

Fast-forward 50 years: technology is developed that allows elevator riders to request to exit at a different floor than the one initially requested. Huge efficiency gains are recorded.

Not really. The cost of having everyone stop at a floor where no one exits because someone changed their mind inside the elevator seems much bigger than having that person get out at the floor she first chose and then take another elevator again.

I had one of these installed at my previous job's office buillding and it didn't take more than a month for people to adjust. In fact, I heard people complaining other buildings didn't have it and they had to stand through a long ride of stopping at every floor to let people out. Once you get used to it, it's great.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 1:03 PM on December 20, 2007

Has anyone else stood mindlessly waiting for water to come out of a faucet only to realize that you needed to turn a handle?
posted by itchylick at 1:10 PM on December 20, 2007

If someone has changed their minds in the elevator, many elevators let you double-click on a number to deactivate it.

If you want to play the Office Edition of the Tragedy of the Commons game, skip all the other floors. (works on many Otis elevators)
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]

They have updated the software on the elevators so that they display the current floor, so that issue is fixed. Also, I've never had a problem with the sensor faucets here (I work in the NYT building)... they are better than most of the ones in airports.

In the old NYT building it was not uncommon to go into a restroom and find one of the faucets running full blast with no one around. I busted someone leaving the faucet on a couple of years back and his defense was that he didn't want to touch the handle to turn it off because it would get his hands dirty again. Jesus, people are idiotic.

The new NYT building is amazing, but like every other place I've worked that has moved offices it would seem that there is literally no end to the complaints.
posted by n9 at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2007

Has anyone else stood mindlessly waiting for water to come out of a faucet only to realize that you needed to turn a handle?

I have a few times when I've gone to some movie theaters. Most I go to have the automatic spouts, but occasionally one doesn't. Also at work, most of the faucets are automatic, but I'm the hand-wavy guy. But I just found another bathroom the other day that has that giant semi-circular sink like from grade school, but the thing was so huge I couldn't find the sensor so after trying for a minute to turn the water on I had to leave to find another bathroom. I did eventually locate it.
posted by Phantomx at 1:44 PM on December 20, 2007

My restroom at work recently got converted to sensor faucets. They work quite well, but I discovered that the power outlet next to them has that little tester button on it and if you hit it and turn off the outlet you also turn off all the faucets.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:17 PM on December 20, 2007

Has anyone else stood mindlessly waiting for water to come out of a faucet only to realize that you needed to turn a handle?

I do this all the goddamn time. It's definitely one of life's "I'm a huge ass" moments.
posted by rusty at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2007

I took him there seeking to solve a mystery has been puzzling the crank in me for years

The crank in John Tierney is John Tierney.

A few years back, I visited a public restroom in Tokyo. There was nothing to touch. The urinal flushed automatically, the sink ran automatically, and the UV-enhanced hot-air dryer blasted my hands automatically. Instead of a door, there was a serpentine corridor. Brilliant.
posted by adamrice at 3:13 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

...and about dem automatic terlets...
where i pretend to work, the toilets have a mean little red eye on in the wall that is supposed to flush when you stand up to leave. And it usually works, except if you are wearing BLACK.
Then, it's dim little brain thinks the slightest motion means 'he gone' and FLUSH. Ten seconds later, FLUSH again. It makes it hard to keep score.

And this in NYC, where black is a not infrequent clothing color.
posted by hexatron at 3:22 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm washing my hand right now.
posted by nola at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2007

I've never fancied auto-flush toliets. I've found pushing the lever to start the swirling process the exclamation point to a good dump.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:01 PM on December 20, 2007

That Tokyo bathroom sounds amazing. How clever.

Like the Times Building itself - all those clever little tricks Renzo Piano's team did (the ceramic tubes, the garden in lace on top, the elevators) and yet it just falls flat. I walk past it every day and it really hulks. It really does not live up to the renderings. Sad, I really want to like it, but I can't. Perhaps the interior will be different, I haven't been inside yet.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:35 PM on December 20, 2007

I used to have a regular feud with an auto flushing toilet at a client's building. Clinging to my fragile illusions of hygiene, I would meticulously arrange the paper ass gasket on the seat, but just as I would turn to sit the auto-flushing contraption would assume I was finished, pull the trigger and suck the seat cover away before my butt could pin it down.

I should have thought about bringing a wet paper towel in with me. Instead I became quite acrobatic and flexible, keeping a body part in front of the sensor at all times while running my pregame drill. So... -1 intelligence, +2 agility. Evens out, I guess.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's another "yes" vote for the building. Go inside. See Mark Hansen's screens chattering away, dissecting and diagramming little filaments of what we know. See the garden. And I love the orange staircases, and the "veil" outside, a counterpoint to the neon branding alternative available at Ernst and Young, a few blocks away.

Haven't had a chance to use the bathroom or the elevators, as the security guards kept a careful watch over our activities (we wandered into the lobby at 9 on a Saturday night).
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:52 PM on December 20, 2007

The problem with those smart elevators seems to be that they don't account for the one guy with the big trolley when figuring out how many people fit in a car.

From a user interface perspective the one I've used was pretty terrible - the pad for keying in your floor looks like a security keypad. I thought they were locked elevators, for people who had the code.
posted by grubby at 1:11 AM on December 21, 2007

The paper towel dispensers in my office are the worst I've ever used. They never, ever recognize me. I always have to touch the sensor before it notices that I'm there, which defeats the purpose.

Somehow I don't think the wet-paper-towel workaround is going to work for this one...
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:55 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

My workaround for sensor toilets that feel the need to flush while I'm still sitting there. I fold a square of toilet paper over the sensor. When I'm done I take the square off and the toilet flushes.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:35 AM on December 21, 2007

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