[WIND BLOWING] SPEAKER 1: Well, we promised ourselves that we'd try to--
[TOWER BELL RINGING LOUDLY]
Well, we promised we'd end here on the top of McGraw Tower, in and amongst the bells of the [INAUDIBLE] here on a day when snow squalls are blowing across the valley. Our first serious snow accumulation is about to begin. So we're going to watch this green lawn become white probably as we speak.
But anyways, if you look out over the quad, we began there with Morill. We went on to White, where we went inside to look at the renovation. Went to McGraw, and viewed its development as the concluding element in this threesome that became the first three principal buildings of what would become the Stone Quad.
We talked about Franklin Hall, which is now called [INAUDIBLE] Hall and how it became the first sort of masonry compromise, not being red brick or greystone, but red stone instead. Sibley and its sort of development by accretion and its becoming the home of a vibrant, up and coming school of engineering in the late 19th century. From there, John, where did we go?
SPEAKER 2: Well, we went to Lincoln Hall, took a look at that and turned the corner on the quad. There was quite a bit of to and fro before the Dairy building and Goldwin Smith established itself over there. In the interim, there was some contest between Goldwin Smith and the library--
SPEAKER 1: We ran out of greystone, too--
SPEAKER 2: Right.
SPEAKER 1: --out of the local site.
SPEAKER 2: Right.
SPEAKER 1: And then we went to the tan or gray sandstone, which characterizes the latter buildings on the site.
SPEAKER 2: And in the middle of that all, we marched from west to east on the south side of the quad with the Uris library, then Boardman Hall and Stimson.
SPEAKER 1: We begin starting the 20th century with Goldwin Smith and finally, ending here in the Tower, which is clearly the very heart of the University.
SPEAKER 2: So Ken, how do we wrap up this little tour through the Arts Quad?
SPEAKER 1: Well, one question is ask if it turned out as the founders had planned it.
SPEAKER 2: And how did they plan it?
SPEAKER 1: A quadrangle 1,000 feet on a side, ringed by buildings of stone. It's a rather simple vision, but one that was challenged right out of the blocks by the country's leading landscape architect, Frederick Olmsted. And it would be challenged many times in the future, as each incremental building was added to the quad. Remember that the plan for the quad was not drawn on paper, as far as we know. And there's little or no zoning bylaws or written code that governed its development.
It really happened by the grace of generations of decision makers along the way. In fact, part of its success is how comfortable it is. It was accommodated by a wide variety of architectural styles. [INAUDIBLE] quad has its share of buildings that would like to assert themselves. But the arrangement of the buildings subordinate to its grand space, and somehow it does, indeed, become a coherent ensemble.
SPEAKER 2: So it's no small feat that it stands today somewhat smaller than it was originally conceived. But it's still certainly grand and dignified. And in fact, as planned, ringed by buildings of stone. Any lessons to be learned?
SPEAKER 1: Well, one is that simplicity helps. The vision of a more informal grouping of buildings on lower campus-- it was more in keeping with Olmsted's advice, calls for a much more sophisticated understanding of open space organization. And it hasn't accepted new development as well as the Arts Quad.
The quadrangle form is so basic and fundamental that everyone understands it and works with it without depending on interpretation by specialists. Another is it helps to have an advocate such as AD White in high places, who can revive the institution during a long career of the vision, while and when expediency creeps into this vision process.
I guess I'd add a third, which is that this community puts a lot of value in the quality of open space. And we've seen this in the decision to build Kroch library underground. So all of us, Cornell students, staff, administration are the beneficiaries of this wonderful, grand space that really is a living room for the University.
SPEAKER 2: Yeah, it's sort of an incredible assortment of purposes. During World Wars I and II it was a drill field. And then in the 1960s, it was the site for anti-war demonstrations.
SPEAKER 1: And just last year, on September 12th, it became the place where we gathered together as a community of 12,000 to honor those who tragically died in the World Trade Center.
SPEAKER 2: Keep in mind, too, what the space means as icon. The view across Arts quad to McGraw Tower is probably the strongest shared visual impression of Cornell.
SPEAKER 1: Right. In closing, we should probably acknowledge that while the Arts Quad is the largest, the oldest, and the most sacred of Cornell's open spaces, it's not the only one. In fact, one of Cornell's strengths is that it has a good number and large variety of open spaces that provide structures to the campus plan. The difficulty is in evaluating these spaces and adapting them to accommodate the inevitable campus growth.
And I guess it's fair to say that it is possible, you know, as demonstrated by the Arts Quad, which continues to provide sites for new construction, such as that for the new architecture building Millstein Hall, or for the addition to Lincoln Hall for music. Lastly, I'd note that in the near future Tower Road will be changed again as alumni field becomes the site for new buildings in biotechnology, the first of which will be by [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 2: And this promises to actually be a very constructive stage in the campus development and bring new identity to that area of campus.
SPEAKER 1: Hope does spring eternal, doesn't it, John? [? Casey ?] [? Parsons's ?] book has a wonderful quote from White that I'll read now. "So large a landed property as ours ought always to have some special care by an expert who, when a building is to be placed, a road or path laid, trees cut or drains dug, can at once give an opinion worth having, and bring all improvements made into connection with the original scheme, which regards the whole work as a whole and not as a patchwork resulting from the whims, or perhaps the ignorance, of many individuals."
SPEAKER 2: That's well put.
SPEAKER 1: Well, as you might imagine, this story is much, much more elaborate than the one we told in this very brief session. And we'd be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions, or if you'd like to chat about the history of the campus in all of its exciting detail.
SPEAKER 2: See more of you later.
SPEAKER 1: Can you get some views of the lake?
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions about this request.
The story of the earliest days of Cornell University is about much more than the construction of buildings. The opinions and personalities of the men and women decision-makers, the political climate of the times, the financial health of the University, even the layout of the surrounding landscape all played a vital role in the formation of what we know today as the Cornell campus.
Join Kent Hubbell and John Ullberg as they relay some of the rich and fascinating stories behind the current day Arts Quad, home of Cornell's first structures, which today stand among a diverse collection of buildings representing many architectural styles.
This video is part 6 of 7 in the Ezra's Farmstead series.