Starting from the front of campus, beautiful buildings like Gibson Hall and Norman Mayer capture your gaze, designed in the Richardson Romanesque style these grand edifices among other similar buildings compete for your attention with the equally awe-inspiring live oak trees that dot the front quads setting an uplifting and stately tone for the campus. Such scenery emits an elevated feeling to all that come to Tulane, differentiating a place of higher thought from the drab architecture common to other public and commercial areas. In doing this all those visiting the campus and more importantly those studying there are pointed to something higher, something greater than themselves and the world around them ultimately leading their work in the same direction. Sadly this style and feeling are cut off right around the middle of campus where Freret street separates the northern more residential part of the campus from the Gibson and Academic quads. Starting with the brutalist Percival Stern Hall and other buildings in the area a style of drab raw concrete, blocky windows, and utilitarian blandness takes over.
Continuing through to campus staples like the business school, The Commons, and the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library these monotonous, worldly, and abjectly uninspiring building create a lowly and stark character for the residential side of campus. Instead of drawing one’s mind higher, they implant a tone of industrial utility that induces a feeling of smallness and dejection; such a style evokes a sense of machine-like existence where you are reduced to a cog in your surroundings instead of being drawn to a great long standing culture of beauty and fineness as you were towards the front of campus. Splattering new eyesores onto a once beautiful campus is even more questionable when taking into account the schools financial and cultural desires. If you look into the most lauded college campuses in the country you will be hard-pressed to find magazines and blogs pointing you to buildings that look more like commercial banks than classically designed statuesque buildings. Despite this, the school continues to build modernist monstrosities defacing the character, tangible history, and public recognition of the institution. What is likely the result of the administration yet again unconsciously stumbling into fads has the power to haunt the school and its student body for years to come. We can only hope those in charge of such decisions see the value both culturally and metaphysically of moving away from these past mistakes and embracing the styles that are uplifting, inspiring, and beautiful.
Featured image edited by Cooper Pugach