Editor’s note: British-isms in the text, such as theatRE, are bolded; translations, when deemed necessary, follow in parenthesis – for example, bingo wings (flabby underarms, associated with elderly denizens of gaming parlors).
Our guide, a tiptop British architect from Hopkins Architects of London, was showing us Yanks, Mark Simon and me of Centerbrook, several buildings that her firm designed in Nottingham, England (yes, as in “Sheriff of”). Centerbrook and Hopkins would be working together on Kroon Hall, the new home of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Within our half of the collaboration, Centerbrook was tasked with, among other things, translating British architecture into an American context.
I was aware that Hopkins’ portfolio bristled with impressive green architecture – vegetated roofs, mixed-mode ventilation, wind cowls, and the like – but our guide kept referring to the Plant Room on the roof. No greenery or greenhouse, however, was in evidence up there.
After three mentions, I had to ask. It turns out she was referring to the Mechanical Equipment Room, or MER, as we call it stateside. The difference between our two cultures, architecturally speaking, would prove to be greater than I had imagined. It was all a tad dodgy (tricky or suspect) at first. Continue reading Proper English, as in “Crikey, It’s the Loo!”