A Walk Around the Block

It seems easy to forget how old a university can be.  There are the building, of course, some look newer, others more modern.  Walking around campus, as I have done so many times before, I photographed first the place my mom pointed out to me a few years ago.  They mark the building section’s date of completion (1934).  On Suzzallo, the establishment date is stamped behind a pillar.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  Every day, we go to class, but there are little signs of the past that have made the campus what it is today.  My route took me from the Quad to Drumheller Fountain and back, passing through Red Square on both occasions.

Annotated Map of Walk Locations

The first set of photos I took around noon.  It seems almost strange that Red Square and the Quad are only a few feet apart.  Tree roots make the brick path to Red Square uneven.  Many of the paths crisscross with a main pathway going straight down the middle, from the music and art buildings to the heart of the campus.  Both Red Square and the Quad give a different sense of space.  The Quad is peaceful, whereas Red Square is surrounded by domineering buildings of cement and stone, seemingly towering over people.  In contrast, the buildings lining the Quad have plants scaling their walls and the sounds of twittering can be heard.  Of every place on campus, the Quad is the greenest and most family friendly.  It’s not just used by frisbee playing college students, but families and other students lounging on the grass.

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On my way to the fountain, which is a constant reminder of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, beneath where the cement was cracking, I spotted what looked like stone.  Perhaps this was done to make walking easier, as most of the campus is either paved with cement or bricks.  I will also add that a number of students choose to ride bikes, scooter, skateboards, etc. to get to class, so bricks and cement seem like much better surfaces to travel over.  Environmentally, it is probably bad for irrigation.  The bricks in in Red Square are meant to keep water from dripping down into the underground parking lot–it does, however, make for a very slick surface when it rains.  In Red Square, every brick and building is purposeful and not out of place, unlike the Quad where there are gaps between bricks or even missing bricks.  Red Square gives off a more academic feel with Kane squished between Odegaard and Suzzallo–which serve as the center of campus–, while the Quad is relaxing and laid back.

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At noon, Red Square was much busier than by almost 3 pm.  Nonetheless, there are tents set up for clubs and the Greek system.  Occasionally, there are the occasional tours, as seen in the above photo where it seems there is a large group of people next to Odegaard.  What I found most surprising about my walk was how different each building is.  Paccar and Denny provide a stark contrast to each other, seeing as Denny is one of the oldest–if not the oldest–building on campus, and Paccar is amongst the newest.  Walking around campus, from the top of the Quad and from the stairs of Suzzallo, it is hard not to take in how open this university is.  In a way, it is easy to forget how close to urban life UW is, because each building transports people to different time periods and feels like a closed environment.

Throughout my walk, it seemed as though there lacked a clear reference to Pacific Northwest heritage other than the Burke Museum.  Inside Guggenheim Hall, there is an amazing totem pole-esque carving mounted on the wall that greets visitors as they enter the building.  Nonetheless, there is a large respect for the environment, because even with helicopters, planes and other mechanical noises going about, birds can still be heard quite loudly.  There is also a clear view of Mount Rainier, and a view of the Sound as the statue of George Washington looks west.  Even within a closed environment, there is a connection with nature (dually note the Duckling Ramp in the Drumheller Fountain) and city life towards the west side of campus.

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2 thoughts on “A Walk Around the Block

  1. Your observations really point out how all the elements of the built environment – plantings, paving as well as the materials and scale of individual buildings – contribute to our experience of a space.

  2. I never really thought about the difference when you walk from the quad into red square or vice versa. It’s interesting to think about how each part of the campus makes you feel different (more open or feel a bit in a hurry) and how those are also associated with each person’s reason for being in the space. Your comment about the lack of reference to the heritage was interesting. I never thought of that before. Thanks for the new thoughts!

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