A Campus Geography Puzzle

Sad but true: this is my job, but sometimes I still get quite confused about where things are (or were). As I’ve continued to look closely at the slides I found in Joseph Davies papers, I find myself both increasingly impressed and frequently a little puzzled. Here’s one example.

Here’s a slide from the Davies collection. None of his pictures are labeled, but I believe it shows the view from the Keith-Wiess Geological lab looking north through the then brand new Space Science building:

When I went to see how it looks now, it’s obviously quite a bit different–big trees, a parking lot to the north, a new ramp:

This is all about what you’d expect, I think. But if you zoom in and look closer, you can see an extra pillar on the right side of the covered walkway by Space Science. That is definitely NOT what you’d expect. So, what the heck? Am I looking at this wrong?

Bonus puzzle: What’s this?

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15 Responses to A Campus Geography Puzzle

  1. Don Johnson says:

    As for the Davies photo, how do you know it’s not viewing Geology from Biology. These were built at the same time I ‘ll bet he was MUCH more likely to show views from his spiffy new building.

    And the puzzle: It’s a flattened Buckyball (fullerene), probably one of the panels in Brockman.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      You could be right–I might have been too hasty. I’ll go check it out Monday morning.

      • Wendy Kilpatrick Laubach '78 says:

        That’s funny — the new picture doesn’t look familiar to me at all, but the old photo is just as I remember it. It was Geology, then Biology, then Space Science, right? So your photo has to be of Biology and Space Science (and the parking lot and the edge of campus in the distance), with Geology behind the photographer. But I have no idea what that stray column is. I don’t remember anything being off in that direction.

        As for the pattern, we were going to say an unfolded soccer ball, but Buckyball is obviously right instead.

  2. C Kelly says:

    Is that a flattened Bucky Ball?

  3. Melissa Kean says:

    Yes, it’s a flattened Bucky Ball. It’s on a sliding window in the offices of the Smalley Institute.

  4. Keith Cooper says:

    I believe that Don is right, but you are reading his remark the wrong way. The first picture, the Davies photo, appears to be Geology seen from Biology. The second appears to be the Space Physics building seen from Geology. Notice the different placement of the door in the breezeway wall. I am off campus now, but a quick walk past the three science buildings would settle the issue.

    Of course, these buildings underwent a renovation to improve personal safety back in the late 1990s. If you look at Anderson Hall (Biology), you will notice that some of the ground floor was enclosed, stairwells were secured, and (I think) the outside halls were fully or partially enclosed with glass. The design work, by Rice’s own William T. Cannady, was sufficiently tasteful that people tend not to notice the changes.

    • dobelman says:

      Keith is correct, although you can still climb on the bricks into the higher floors of space physics. Of course, the buckyball plaque was a recent addition after the assimilation of Space Science into Smalley.

  5. Joseph Lockett ('91) says:

    Add me to the list of those who believe Davies’ picture is facing *south*, from Biology to Geology, along the western end of those buildings, rather than *north*, from Biology to Space Science, along their eastern ends.

    The Ley Student Center didn’t exist then, so the foliage visible through the breezeway is presumably *not* what is now North Lot, but the grassy area that was presumably west of the Rice Memorial Center.

  6. Mike Loeb says:

    That looks like the ceiling plan for Jones Hall!

  7. Grungy says:

    I believe Don is correct.
    That’s Geo from Bio, looking north, before Spac existed.
    There has never been a row of trees or foliage like that looking south from Geo through Bio.
    Looking south back then you would have seen either the widely-spaced crepe myrtles around G-lot or Wiess and the tennis courts.

  8. effegee says:

    I’m with Don.

    When I look at the size of the grassy area visible in the background in the two pictures between, I see a sizable area in the Davies picture whether that’s a road or a parking lot back there. The strip of grass between the road and parking lot in the modern picture is barely visible and the strip of grass between the building and the road is completely hidden.

    The feature best supporting Don’s argument is the masonry visible in the middle of the Davies picture just to the left of the shadowed stairwell wall of the foreground building. I think that is a wall that is behind and well to the right of the mid-ground building — effectively in the background but closer to the road or parking lot. If I’m not mistaken, that looks like the masonry around Hamman Hall. It is not visible at all in the modern picture.

    The trees in the background at the near edge of the road or parking lot look like they could be crape myrtles. However, the shadow cast by the foreground building appears to be toward the mid-ground building suggesting a shot to the north. And wouldn’t the stairs on the east end of the buildings be on the left of a shot toward Wiess rather than on the right?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yes, this has to be right. It tells you something interesting about the human mind–or at least mine–that once I thought I knew what it was, I couldn’t see it differently.

      Still, I’m going to go check!

  9. Barney L. McCoy says:

    I was one of Davies’ lab instructors in 65-66. That’s the view north from the Bio lab stairwell to the Geo lab. Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  10. Barney L. McCoy says:

    Incidentally, if the view was south, you would see the RMC in the background. Barney

  11. Pingback: My Geography Puzzle Solved | Rice History Corner

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