May 082013
 

Author: Kelsey Contouris

If there’s one thing I learned from this week’s exploration, it’s that bridges make buildings infinitely more awesome. I originally set out to explore Forestry, but when I found the second-floor bridge to Natural Resources, I couldn’t resist. And seeing as this is my last post of the semester, I figured the bigger the exploration the better.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry's main entrance.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry’s main entrance.

With the trees around campus finally sprouting their leaves, it felt like a good time to check out the forestry building. I went in through the main entrance off of West Drive and was greeted by a shockingly new space for a building constructed in 1937. The walls were painted a pleasant, soft green; the hallway floors were done in a shiny, beige wood with stone tile running along the edges; round, modern light fixtures hung from the crown-molded ceiling down the length of the main hallway. This was quite possibly one of the newest old spaces on campus that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

Immediately to my left and right were hallways lined with tiled squares displaying the preserved leaves of probably a couple hundred plant species. After admiring some of these, I ventured down the main hallway. Old black and white photos hung on the walls in sharp contrast with a large TV screen displaying department information.

As I was busy taking pictures, someone came in through the front doors. Fearing that he would ask me what I was doing or if I was lost, I scurried around the nearest corner and happened upon the basement steps.

Not wanting to turn around and look more lost, I decided I might as well check it out. It was a strange space that seemed more like a basement you would find in a normal house. The ceilings were much lower than in the rest of the building, and they were crowded with an unsettling array of pipes that led into a room with even more unsettling building guts. The rest of the space served as storage.

I crept back up to the first floor and found a stairway leading to the second. These hallways looked a bit older, with the exception of the nice wood and tile floors. I was surprised to find that even the classrooms in Forestry looked newly renovated.

The second floor was unexciting until I remembered that from the outside I had seen a bridge connecting Forestry with the Warner College of Natural Resources. A woman I saw in the hallway pointed me in that direction.

Eagerly, I walked through the two metal doors out onto the bridge. The north side had windows, but the south side was open and provided an excellent view of Sherwood Forest and the sidewalk below. I drank in the fresh air for a moment and continued on into Natural Resources.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

I explored the second floor for a bit, noting that the classrooms looked much older than those in Forestry. The walls were covered with all sorts of maps and posters, and display cases were filled with weathered equipment and geological artifacts.

I went up to the third floor through one of the cavernous concrete stairwells. It was up here that I got the best view of the front entryway. The space is somewhat difficult to describe – industrial, yet earthy. Cold, yet inviting. I think I got this feeling from the concrete coupled with the more natural elements. A small garden and pond sat beneath the gray, twisting staircase; sunlight filled the space from skylights up above; dark wood covered some walls, while others were covered in jagged stone bricks. A collection of tables and chairs sat below, and I realized that this would be a great place to come and relax.

I toured a few more hallways and decided to end my double exploration. Judging Forestry and Natural Resources from the outside, I had never expected to find what I did on the inside. The same has been true for all of the buildings I explored this semester. They’re all on the same campus, yet so wildly different from one another. The best part is that even though I’ve seen so many buildings, there are still so many left to discover.

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