Cornell has many many wonderful traditions. Like Dragon Day, the playing of the bells, good hockey, and screaming at midnight of the first day of finals. They also have some lousy traditions, and one in particular is the policy pertaining to the designing of buildings.
It is written in Cornell’s charter that every building that is built must be constructed in the current style of the times. Well back in 1860, when the school was founded, that was fine and dandy and thus we have beautiful Gothic dorms on West Campus and the Arts quad, impressive auditoriums like Bailey Hall, and 1970 eyesore prison-esk looking buildings like Ives Hall, home of ILR.
Now, in one of more entertaining classes this past week, my professor commented on how buildings and campuses reflect the mentality of the classes. Her examples were of engineering quads all over this country. They all look the same: cold, calm, organized and quiet. This is because, and I quote, “because the engineers in this country need no beauty, they need to logically solve a problem and that is that”. So while Duffield hall may have great interior workspace, and Rhodes may have really cool windows, most of the engineering quad is pretty straightforward. Well what does that say about ILR?
As a little background to me: the middle-school that I spent some time at in Chicago was designed by the same architect that designed the Cook County Prison. So having little windows that have directionally guided sniper sight-lines and plain gray cinder-block walls isn’t all that new to me. (That is not a joke either).
The building is slightly upsetting compared to the rest of the campus, but I am willing to look past that because I ultimately think that old Uncle Ezra did an cool and interesting thing when he demanded that all the buildings here be built to reflect the time period. Also, I think that Ives Hall (the ILR building) has some of the best lecture halls on campus. I really do like the building, but what I hate having to look past is the unsightly cinder-block walls that line the ILR building where I spend most of my time.Not only can you not look past them (alright poor joke…) but this semester, the school decided to paint over some of the murals that had spruced up my day. The murals in the staircase used to depict a scene of trees that varied in season depending on what floor and what staircase you were in.
What happened? Call it budget cuts. Call it “cool new khaki colored paint that ups spirits”. Call it Dean Katz being sick of the lie that there wasn’t really a window there. Whatever you you want to call it, it is unfortunate that the building has gotten that much more depressing. I used to get at least a little smile after a bad prelim, looking at the painting, knowing that the building isn’t filled with solely bad things. Now I just cannot wait to go to class…