Stanford and Keenan
Nathaniel Gotcher | Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In Tuesday’s Observer, there was a photo of Stanford Hall after having been decked out in new windows along with its twin, Keenan. In the caption, it read that these two dorms received the window makeover as a part of a renovation that included some rearrangement of rooms and painting. In considering future renovations to dorms, and in particular Stanford and Keenan, I would hope that the University looks to the Vitruvian ideals that are at the heart of our Architecture School: strength, utility and beauty. What we have are a couple of dorms which I believe were meant to be temporary dorms and thus not designed and built to last. They are not sustainable. They are not attractive, do not fit in with the surrounding campus (St. Liams, Zahm, Cavanaugh etc.) and yet they are need of renovation. Let me propose that before the University spends any more money on renovations to campus buildings, it first look to design principles that include both exterior and interior renovation and unity. A dorm should be easily navigable, sturdy and pleasing on the eyes. I take new windows to be a sign that perhaps we are going in the right direction, but what good is putting “new wine” in “old wineskins”? As a sophomore architecture student, I am learning all about composition of a building and design principles (Thanks, Profs. Hoyt, Salden and Buccelato). The composition of a building is the synthesis and ordering of parts to form a unified whole. I hope that we can continue in our path towards this in our campus buildings, even in renovations. I am not advocating that we tear down the dorms (not yet, anyway, knowing how much waste comes out of demolitions), but rather I wish that we solve the problem of making them better dorms since we’re spending money on renovating them anyway. I understand that many students have attachments to these dorms, and so I would hope that using the architectural resources that the University has, we could come up with a solution.