Tuesday, October 19

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Blair Arch railings: Grab this!

As if returning to a jungle climate of mist and fog and finals despair is not painful enough following winter break, students must also endure Blair Arch's stocking stuffer: industrial pipe railings. Though the need for the unsightly safety measure is questionable in itself, the Physical Planning and Risk Management staffs, after approving the project, could have easily devised a less ugly alternative.

University safety engineers say they have repeatedly suggested the Blair Arch steps needed to be safer. However, railings are not necessarily the best answer. Individuals who have trouble climbing stairs should avoid Blair altogether. People seeking a safer route could use the staircase between Blair and Witherspoon, which has hand rails, with only a minimal detour. A sign placed at the foot and top of the Blair Arch steps directing pedestrians to this staircase would lead them to an easier, safer path and would have kept Blair's facade untarnished.

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Physical Planning and Risk Management certainly could have minimized the railings' impact on the arch's appearance. They might have placed a single, unobtrusive rail on one side of the steps, as they did for 1879 Arch. Even after deciding that the rails had to stand where they do now, a material more authentic than cheap pipe could have been chosen to make the railing blend with the structure's age and nobility. Blair Arch was originally constructed as the gateway to the University's campus and today is arguably the most architecturally distinctive building on campus after Nassau Hall – it's the prototype of Gothic architecture on college campuses. The placement of the tawdry railings is similar to putting a Six Flags bumper sticker on a Mercedes. – The Managing Board of The Daily Princetonian

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