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Over the past week, several undergraduates have sent emails to residential college listservs calling for suggestions for what they call the “redesign” of McCosh Health Center. While not specifying in any further detail the extent of this apparent “redesign,” or describing in any detail how such feedback will be incorporated, they state that University Health Services (UHS) “is undergoing a major remodeling” and “they want student input.” As is typical for such mass emails requesting student feedback, they reassure students that the survey, whose link they provide, is “super short.”
In its recently published Sustainability Action Plan, the University set ambitious goals for reducing its environmental footprint. Aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2046, as well as curtail its water usage and waste production, the plan represents the second of Princeton’s formal commitments to sustainability. This is especially timely in the context of the recently passed student referendum, which called for clearer guidelines and timelines for how the University will achieve carbon neutrality.
France particularly, and the world generally, suffered a tragedy on Monday as the Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire. Construction on the cathedral began in 1160 and has since become a defining symbol of both the Catholic Church and the French nation as a whole. While the damage seems to have been contained, the main spire of the Cathedral did collapse, and only in the coming days will we realize the total damage done by the conflagration.
By some measures, interdisciplinarity seems to have gained a central place in our undergraduate education here at Princeton. Some courses, like “Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach” or “Interdisciplinary Design Studio” are explicitly termed cross-disciplinary. Others are given cross-listed course designations: to take an arbitrary random sample of non-language and non-writing seminar classes offered on Thursdays this semester at 11 a.m., 44 of 80 are cross listed between any number of other departments.
How does personal digital technology affect how we interact within our campus environment? Such a question, it goes without saying, is of great relevance to our lives as undergraduates. The argument that such technologies — smart phones, earbuds, smart watches, etc. — undermine personal interaction in the real world is not a new one. Here, however, I seek to more concretely articulate, through an architectural lens, the threats that such digital technologies pose to the uniquely spontaneous interactions that arise in our physical campus environment.
A student project this semester, which I saw advertised by email, sought “to come up with a way to help mitigate the feelings of loneliness on Princeton’s campus.” To do so, these students solicited student feedback on one building: Frist Campus Center. Their idea, as they explained, is “to build upon the current student center (Frist) in a way that fosters interactions and brings meaningful connections back to the center of campus so that students will encounter one another more naturally.”
We all know the feeling. It’s one o’clock in the morning. You’ve been staring at your computer screen for hours writing an essay, sending emails, programming, or doing anything else in our lives as students for which we use our laptops. At some point you notice you’re growing tired. The screen’s brightness starts to hurt your eyes. The inconstancy of its images becomes tiresome. Its endless notifications are overwhelming.
On the evening of Friday, Oct. 12, acclaimed American sculptor Jim Sanborn delivered a lecture to a crowded audience of students and community members at the University's Art Museum. In his talk, Sanborn described much of his life’s work that, in his own words, seeks to “bring science and art closer together.”
This year, for the eighth in a row, the University has put up an exhibit in the Friend Center on the “Art of Science.” These exhibits display images of scientific phenomena — cells, computer simulations, chemical reactions, the like — and assign them the magnificent and ambitious classification of “art.” In a proverbial pat on the back, the curators — all scientists, no artists — claim these exhibits form a new “synergy” between art and science.
It does not take a trained architectural eye to recognize the unabashedly modern design of New South Building. Built in 1965 and designed by the American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, this administrative center in the southern part of campus presents an uncompromising façade of reflective glass and concrete, scorning all ornamentation. At seven stories tall, it stands as a veritable skyscraper on campus, surpassed only by Fine Hall and Cleveland Tower, located in the Graduate College. Overall, its form is dominated by one of the purest of geometric volumes, the cube.
The assault on architectural modernism on campus continues.
Among Princeton undergraduates today, there exists a somewhat paradoxical consensus regarding what constitutes “good” architecture.