Public Spaces as “Readable” Texts: Purdue’s Campus as Argument

In “Campuses in Place,” the architect Frances Halsband reminds us that “the best university campuses are places that have been carefully designed over decades, even centuries,” and that on today’s college campuses “dynamic new typologies of mixed-use places for research and learning” are emerging, especially near the edges, or fuzzy boundaries, where campus and city meet.

What sort of argument does Purdue’s campus make to students? To the public? To prospective Boilermakers and their parents? Let’s take a brief tour of some of the buildings around campus. Look for recurring patterns in the architecture.

WETHERHILL CHEMISTRY LAB:

Weatherhill’s Main Entrance

A closer look at the relief panels that decorate the Weatherhill Chemistry building.

One of the reliefs on Weatherhill's facade listing the five branches of chemistry, here "Inorganic."

AN EXAMPLE FROM GREEK LIFE:

The front of a fraternity house across from Hicks Undergraduate Library. Do the pillars look familiar?

THE LIBRARY “BUNKER”:

The above-ground portion of Hicks Undergraduate Library.

THE PURDUE MEMORIAL UNION:

The State Street entrance.

A closer look at the stone relief above the State STreet entrance.

Right relief sculpture above the PMU doors.

INSIDE THE STATE STREET ENTRANCE OF THE PMU:

A memorial to Purdue veterans of WWI and the bronze busts of various Purdue influential "fathers," or presidents.

 

Another view: The veterans' memorials and a miniature model of the campus and town.

 

The bust of former Purdue president Steven C. Beering.

A plaque inside the PMU, near the memorial: "An American's Creed."

The armed forces....

 

...and the civilian forces.

KRANNERT’S ARCHITECTURE:

The stark facade of the Krannert School of Management.

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