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observations

Letters Praise and mercy; Office design, Skidmore-style
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O how the mighty...
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letters

Praise and mercy

Applause for the good job done on the fall Scope. It was not “flung shui”! To the fellow alum who wrote that she was ashamed because our government flunked the Hurricane Katrina test: Have mercy, my dear. Our government is made up of many people, and we did not all graduate summa cum laude.

Peggy Jouard Gibson ’41
Greensboro, N.C.


Office design, Skidmore-style

[Reading about Moore Hall in the summer Scope] made me recall Skidmore in transition between the old and new campuses. As the new campus was constructed it was clear that talented architects, working with an enlightened administration, were making a deliberate and thoughtful effort to transplant character and community along with students and curriculum. Community
was a key objective, and among the first new buildings erected were Barrett Center and Starbuck Center, each outfitted with comfy furniture and fireplaces ideal for study gatherings, individual solitude, and impromptu fun. Even after Case Center was completed, Barrett and Starbuck remained the most common venues for mixers, club meetings, and other events not suited to the Penn Station ambiance of Case.

I was sorry to discover at my fifth reunion in 1982 that Barrett and Starbuck had been chopped
up into temporary offices, and other offices had been shoehorned, Soviet-style, into nearly every available passageway. I’ve been back to Skidmore many times—most recently last fall, to drop off my son for his junior year. On each return, I hope to see the student centers reverted to student
use, those “temporary” offices gone, and air and light restored to those stuffy hallways.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not disappointed in the evolving new campus; its buildings have, with
the notable exception of the Tang Museum, kept to a high standard of harmony and taste (George Jetson and his boy Elroy would be particularly impressed by the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall modifications). But several years ago, approximately a trillion square feet of glass and concrete
was grafted onto Dana Science Center, while the roofless cardboard offices remained riveted like shower stalls along the windows near the center stairwell. Is Skidmore breeding faculty and staff so fast that new construction can’t absorb all those cubby dwellers?

Thirty years ago the priority of clearing out the old campus was expediently accommodated;
then it became easy to delay a permanent solution, as the focus fell on newer, sexier priorities.
Now it’s time to rejuvenate some earlier priorities and haul those “temporary” offices out to the Dumpster. My thirtieth reunion is coming up in June. Perhaps as part of that celebration,
crowbar-wielding alumni could be invited to bring some of Skidmore’s fondly remembered places out of their long darkness. It could be our gift to the new generation.

Art Richardson ’77
Washington, D.C.