Sunday, January 22, 2012

Circles, Groves, Stacks: Blog Post 2

One of the design principles we looked at this past week throughout the history of design and early architecture was the repetition of circles, groves, and stacks in design. We took a walk around campus on Friday looking for examples of circles, groves and stacks on campus. Most of the places we walked implemented at least one of these design elements. Here we have a covered walkway from Ferguson:

The repetition of the columns speaks to the concept of groves, which stems from the idea of groves of trees reaching vertical mimicked in the created spaces around us. The arches between the columns are also repeated along the bottom row of windows and the circular planters next to the trees (viewed through the columns).

Team Indigo took a walk down College Ave to the Music Building to check out more of the campus.

College Avenue cuts right through the heart of campus. It begins perpendicular to Spring Garden and at the Music Building. There is a  repeating series of squares and circles along the road, with the center circle the largest of the rest (seen above). This center circle marks the center of campus, with the library to the west. The concept of the circle often signifies a sacred place.

Standing in the center of the circle in the center of campus looking west, is the library. It has a circular entrance with columns (groves) that opens up to stacks of books. The concept of stacks signifies the gathering of resources, which for academia is knowledge. The center of knowledge is the library, here directly off the center of campus.

The Petty building on the other side is another excellent of all three design principles in the outside architectural design alone. We have the repetition of the circular concept (two symmetrical arcs connected through the negative space) in the stairs, bridge supports and sidewalk below. The columns at the entrance speak to groves, and the rows of windows on top of one on another speak to stacks.

Off College Ave heading towards the music building, the path intersects several large dorm buildings. These buildings speak to both stacks (of windows and floors) and groves (of students).

The walkway to the music building (the red tower building above) has repeating arches (circles) and horizontal bands of steel (stacks). These pick up on the theme of the cylindrical building at the end of the walkway, held up by thick columns (groves). There are horizontal bands in the red brick that also hint at the concept of stacks.

The garden outside of the music building also keeps the same theme running, with groves of trees, a circular man-made pond, with a fountain from a stack of stone.

The interior of the tower at the entrance is an open circle with the groves of trees from the park visible through the man made columns. 

Inside the theme continues, with a repetitive circular pattern on the floor, and the real groves of trees seen through the man made groves of columns and stacks of windows. A clear indication of the relationship of the man made world and the natural environment. 

In the center of the music building where the various wings meet, underneath the repeating circular space, with its horizontal bands, is the one anomaly to the circles, groves, and stacks concept of design: people. There is a statue indicating a clear human presence, playing a trumpet (a clear nod towards the music building). 

This journey across campus makes a solid case for architecture and design that stems from rituals influencing the creation of environments. There are themes constantly represented across the campus that are decidedly used in the design and construction of the buildings. I would make an argument though, that once the environment is created, it often contributes to the creation or adaptation of new rituals. The location of the music building away from the main part of the campus most likely lends its students and faculty a more isolated sense of community, where "running for a cup of coffee" would elicit more time and planning, then say, those in the psychology building that are located next to Tate St. I think that the sometimes environments influence rituals and sometimes rituals influence the environment.


  1. terrific photos!! keen observations...

  2. You have made really excellent points in you observation of circle + groves + stacks throughout campus, and connected them to what we have talked about in class.