qotd + back to the run
many things make a post

it's a mystery

EDITED TO ADD: the mystery has been solved! Click on the comments if you want to know what these mystical outlets are for. Don't click if you prefer to live in your own rich imagination.


One of the buildings on campus has been renovated and reopened. The new space is gorgeous and has all of the modern accouterments one could want, from water bottle re-filling stations and unisex bathrooms. But it also has these, which are just outside each and every exterior door:


Here it is in situ:


And the long shot:


At first, I thought it was just a classy downspout for the rain gutters. But the long I ponder, the more I think it can't be because it would dump all of the water at about knee height in front of the door, which would soak anyone standing near and/or create a slipping hazard that the architects wouldn't allow. 

So what else could it be? A safe passage for the buildings gnomes?* A pneumatic mail system?** Or just a poorly designed rain control system?***

Thoughts? Or am I the only one who thinks about such things?


* SUCO switched from gnomes to elves ten years ago after the labor dispute so that one looks increasingly unlikely.

** Not pressurized.

*** Most likely.


I've seen those at colleges here, too. I never looked closely and always assumed they were somehow fire-safety-related. But, now I don't think so. They don't seem to be a fire-hose-connector, after all. Maybe not a downspout drain, but an air-conditioner-condensor drain? I guess we'll both have to go look at what they do in a heavy rainstorm.

My guess, having worked on "smart" homes, is that they are conduits connected to the electronics/networking hubs. Then power/phone/TV/internet lines could be run to desks or electronic signage outside the building and then pulled completely back inside the building when not needed.

Putting conduits and/or wires in during construction is very cheap, running wires through walls is very expensive. With technology changing so quickly, preinstalling pipes for wires is smart.

Note: some folks have trained ferrets to wear little harnesses to pull the first wire through. Are the pipes big enough for a ferret?

It's the perfect size for a ferret, actually. Hrm.

If you want to have the mystery solved, here is the answer from one of the campus architects:

"Those are roof overflow drains. If the roof drains are blocked for any reason, these go into action once the level reaches structural capacity. They are located in obvious locations, instead of being direct piped to storm drains, so that the problem becomes obvious to the pedestrians and gets immediate action. In all my years I have never seen one “wet”, primarily because we take care of our roof drains.

Kind of cool looking though. I like the idea that it is an acoustical voice transmitter, or a habi-trail for squirrels."

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