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Images from SwiftEnvirons presentation

Looking back at my tiny window as steward of a campus, I feel we succeeded in avoiding the obvious pitfalls of changing everything without comprehension of the history, the resources, the culture and the values of a university and the community.  There are many layers to a community’s history. Understanding that history means recognizing how the past shapes the present. 

In this case, societal changes – from Florence Nightingale’s hospital Pavilion Plan and the need to treat 19th Century disease – to the promise of electrification of the city and streetcar transportation – to redlining of districts and subsequent freeway construction causing displacement of people of color – to placement of major public facilities like the State Fair -all have contributed to that historical fabric.  Even the long range development plan from over 30 years ago by SOM and Richard Bender identified the need for a walkable campus – still driving many community issues.

The institution outlives any single human – so balancing history with current demands while evolving the institution is truly the role of the university architect. 


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