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Entrance from Park Street

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Two other views of the back are below.


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#1 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On March 27, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

Good for the architects. I always thought the entrance into Baxter from Park Street had the look of an afterthought (or no thought).

#2 Comment By PTC On March 27, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

Guy- Having seen it in person, I disagree. The view from my church was once more scenic and the west end of Baxter much less imposing on Park street and the landscape.

#3 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On March 28, 2007 @ 1:22 am

“From the BauHaus to your house,” indeed.

I can’t help but loving the first perspective view: Berkeley (architecture) is a BauHaus school, after all, and this view is one of the first of Moholy-Nagy’s lessons in space and void.

Yet a little naive, don’t you think? “Referentiality” between buildings being all the rage among architects these decades, the point of the design principles was not to give me and the folks in Art History fodder for criticism– and to make it impossible to tell if you are in Dessau, Williamstown, Toulouse or Brasilia– and the perspective lines projected by the segments of these buildings are supposed to line up with other elements, frame the horizon and the path of the sun, reduce energy consumption and orient our lives and perspective to to the world and environment around us…

Does this piece of human artifice do that?

Do the lines match the environment– or are they, like so many sub-urban (really: post-urban) developments, merely plans taken out of a form-book and thrown down on top of the environment; or is this a ‘place’ where ‘there’s no there there’– speaking of Berkeley!– a moonscape, cut off from locality and identity?

The second and third views are simply horrendous: I can walk three hundred yards to see the same perimeter fence design along the northern edge of Vanderbilt, and in both spaces, there is absolutely no ‘authenticity’, nor attention to the (historical) traditions of landscape or space. Vandy and Williams are not in this instance spaces that reference other spaces at all: it’s merely a stock design, a page copied out of the textbook-cookbook. You’re in the bathroom in Baxter/Paresky: but you could be in BNA or OAK or MSP: and there few or no cues to tell the difference?

Where are you?

Why is that wall ‘there?’ Because some ‘architect’ who never lived ‘there,’ nor had to use the space, pulled the design off the shelf and imposed it on the landscape. “Site specific…”? No architect who understands space in the least has to pull such a stock phrase and design out of their vocabulary.

How much energy is saved by aligning windows with the prevailing course of the sun? No building from the middle ages ignores this basic physical principle.

How much did we pay for this piece of template design (and bathrooms that are indistinguishable from those at Nashville International, because the designer used the exact same template?) Williams students could certainly do better, on their own, if given the responsibility.

I have to concur with PTC: the previous transition from Park to Baxter was incredible: full of paths, curves, and unintended uses crafted by decades of human use; a ‘natural’ series of transitions from the classrooms in the church, to the mailroom, defined by human needs. Now ‘we’ have have an (unnecessary) barrier that restricts impromptu use and flow for no good reason other than that someone didn’t bother to see what was already in place.

As for the wall: better to simply tear it down and see what use people make of the space, as Mr. Wright was wont to advise.

Didn’t he have something to say about Griffin?

#4 Comment By hwc On March 28, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

The wall is there to keep people from seeing (or falling down into) the ugly below grade loading dock area.

I don’t know why they need the big security fence. Is that to keep the intruders out or the inmates in?

#5 Comment By frank uible On March 28, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

As Williams should be in all respects – it’s entirely about the kids. If they embrace it, it doesn’t matter what opinions others have.

#6 Comment By PTC On March 28, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

Frank- I believe you are wrong. It is not all about the kids. It is just as much about the brand name (alumni) as it is about the kids. If you look good, you are good. If you look like old money and prestige, you are old money and prestige.

Would you rather be associated with, Jackie O or Paris Hilton? Of these two, who would you rather entrust with your hard earned money?

Can you say, “identity crisis.”

#7 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On March 28, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

PTC: As with some of my points above (which have rather questionable roots), and Dan Drezner’s “vlog,” Frank may be being excessive and even ironic.

But I like the Jackie vs. Paris metaphor. If you have to choose one– character, style, substance–, which is Paresky?

And hrmmmm… could we even say, that (parts of) Paresky are a strumpet, a physical artifact of the kind of sexual expression that Wendy Shalit does such a good job of critiquing?

Does this wall have a meaning, an intellectual content, a purpose (of the worst sort), that has everything to do with David’s fears for his daughter’s world?

Is it — and the “urban scape” in “Morty’s” “backyard”– the kind of physical space a Whitney Stoddard would have cherished? “Why or why not?”

(None of which are easy questions to establish criteria for judging).