A Slightly Windy Physics Lab Update

I will never stop marveling at how much I don’t know. I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how the physics building works but as soon as I started looking at it really hard I became aware that I didn’t understand it at all. I spent well over an hour today inside and outside of it and even barged into people’s offices in Lovett, trying to make sense of the windows. The windows in this building are really complicated and they dictate a great deal about how the interior space can be used.

Here’s one example. Zoom in and look for the false balcony on the second floor near the middle of the picture. It stands in front of three tall windows. To their right are three somewhat shorter windows and to their right are three even smaller ones. Same pattern on the left. I hadn’t realized until today that inside those windows are two sloping lecture rooms. Physics Near Full

So, to get to my main point, it turns out that both pictures in yesterday’s post were taken in the same room, 207, from opposite corners.  Here’s the first one and then one I took today:Physics lab 1914


Obviously, much has changed. (The benches are original, though.) Many of the changes are due to a hundred years of wear and tear; others because of safety regulations. The room was actually shortened significantly at some point. If you zoom in on the old image you can see a set of what look like french doors to the right of the blackboard. Those were the elevator doors and they are now outside this room (and metal).

Here’s the other set, which I had pretty well figured out before I got here. I was standing by the door in the picture just above when I took the second one.

Physics Lab Ricker c1914

Physics Lab towards Lovett

It was the long window that gave it away–the only place there is a single long window is at the end of the building, next to Lovett Hall, which you can see above in the image of the exterior. The window just to the right of the display case is no longer in fact a window, but rather a door, which was also added later for safety reasons.

Physics Lab from Lovett

I certainly feel better now and I hope you do too.


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14 Responses to A Slightly Windy Physics Lab Update

  1. Karl Benson '62 says:

    I like the original room; it had more character than today’s version. It looked like that when I spent many a frustrating hour there in Physics 100 lab in 1958-59.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    I agree. It seems to be functional and not much more.

  3. Grungy says:

    That’s a lot of boxes.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I wondered if anyone would notice that. It was the boxes that were the reason for the picture. I took it on the day they were moving the new furniture in for the political science department and it was the only image of that view that I have. I was interested to learn that in my concern to take photos of things that aren’t frequently photographed, I have neglected the front sides of most buildings almost completely.

  4. mjthannisch says:

    That was very neat, especially about the windows and the sloping rooms. I had never noticed that before. BTW, at least some of the steeples on the physics building are useful, some containing doors into the attic, and at the very least a place to stand while those on Sewall Hall are not.

  5. mjthannisch says:

    It is amazing how long you can sit in that steeple watching things below without anyone noticing you. Most people don’t look up.

  6. Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

    These wonderful excursions into building history are what keep me coming back to read this blog. Isn’t it amazing what we can keep learning from a 100-year-old building? I agree with Karl that the original rooms had more character. Those acoustical tiles in today’s fifth picture are particularly jarring. I mean, couldn’t they have sculpted them around the arched windows instead of just plopping them up there on the wall?

    • Grungy says:

      They also had to find space for the HVAC ducts, and that’s probably up there in the ceiling. It is unfortunate to lose the original shape of the room.

    • Richard A. Schafer says:

      While I agree the tiles on the wall are ugly, what I’m struck by more is the loss of all the natural light from those wonderful windows. I’m hoping those are just shades that are down for some reason, and that normally, they’re open, instead of making this a fluorescent cave.

  7. I had noticed the windows for the lecture halls, but I’m a photographer, so I’ve learned to look for symmetry and asymmetry.

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