Past and future had a bit of a scuffle on campus last spring. As crews prepared to dismantle the College Barn to make way for a new Recreation Center across from the Mullins Center, a fledgling preservation group stopped the proverbial wrecking ball mid-swing.
Led by professor emeritus of wildlife biology Joseph Larson ’56, ’58G Preserve UMass, or PUMA, has more than 100 members, including alumni and active and retired faculty and staff. In the face of the barn’s demise, they convinced Preservation Massachusetts, a statewide organization with a kindred mission, to place the campus as a whole on a list of the 10 most endangered historical resources in the Commonwealth. (full article)
What I wish to suggest is that the architecture of this campus, far from being impersonal, cold, drab architecture that some see today was in fact a heroic statement of the value of a public university. As the college became a university in the second half of the 20th Century with aspirations to turn Massachusetts citizens into national leaders, it chose not to mimic the colleges nearby—brick Amherst College, Gothic Mount Holyoke, Victorian Smith. No, campus leaders decided that this national public research university would stake its claim as something modern through its architecture. This university would be elite but not elitist, it would be open and accessible, and it would pursue research in the public interest. There was to be nothing quaint or precious about this new university. It would unshakably place itself as herald of the future. (full article)