Two Quads

We had more internet drama at my house last night, so we went out and drowned our sorrows at the Red Lion pub. It came back on this morning, but only long enough for me to write a post about Newton Rayzor that was promptly lost when the signal went out again. So all I can manage right now is a short post sent from the library of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, near beautiful Hobby Airport. (I’ll get back to Mr. Rayzor later in the week.)

I was in Chicago last weekend for a wedding and in true homing pigeon fashion wound up down at the University of Chicago. This is a truly beautiful campus and it’s earliest parts were built not all that long before Rice’s. The architectural styles could hardly be more different, though. I have, in the course of my work, looked at thousands of images of Rice’s main quad, to the point that sometimes I don’t even really see it anymore. But looking at these beautiful neo-Gothic buildings at Chicago let me see it with fresh eyes. Both campuses are lovely and both signal real intellectual seriousness, but it’s striking how differently they do it.

In the end, though, I can’t help but think of the great president of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, and something he said at his inaugural address in 1929: “If the first faculty of the University of Chicago had met in a tent, this would still have been a great university.”

Yes, indeed.

Bonus photos:

I’m a little bit more dubious about this one:

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1 Response to Two Quads

  1. Jim Marks says:

    Amazing coincidence, since Liz and I just came from two years living in Woodlawn, the neighborhood just south of Univ. of Chicago.

    And yes, when we first got to Rice, after two years of living in the shadows of the neo-Gothic campus, the open brightness of the Spanish Colonial was quite a shock.

    Unfortunately, Univ. of Chicago has done a very poor job, with their explosive growth, in retaining that aesthetic feel of the main quad throughout the rest of their campus. As you point out, there are some real post-modern eye sores, and the entire “south campus” on the far side of The Midway is a long, dreary row of grey, featureless, concrete boxes.

    To be fair, though, some of the residential structures along the fringes of Rice’s campus are equally dubious, aesthetically. One could argue however, as the self-professed architecture capital of the country, Chicago has less excuse.

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